News from our Uttarakhand Field Institute
Seminar on Teaching–Learning for Children with Special Needs, Dehradun, March 2012
An educational seminar on the teaching-learning problems of children with special needs was organized at Azim Premji Institute, Dehradun on 31st March 2012. The SCERT, State Project Office Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, and Azim Premji Institute members as well as teachers from private schools participated.
Smt. Manju Singhania, Director, Latika Rai Foundation, Dehradun, shared her views as reference person on the topic. She has been doing important work with handicapped children’s learning problems for the last 30 years. At the seminar, she elaborated upon the various programmes being run by the Latika Rai Foundation for children with special needs. She threw light in detail on the different types of children with special needs and the problems faced by them. She then explained how an inability to learn is a kind of neurological disorder in which children’s brains function differently, due to which they have trouble learning. She concluded by stressing how teachers should understand the problems of children with learning disorders and inspire them to learn by assuring them that they are not ‘stupid’ and they can also learn.
Bal Choupal, Uttarkashi, March 2012
A ‘Bal Choupal’ was organized by the Azim Premji Institute, for children from government and private schools in Azad Maidan, Uttarkashi, on 27th March 2012. Approximately 250 children and teachers from 20 schools participated in this. Various kinds of stalls were put up wherein children could engage in activities according to their interests.
Theatre stall: this was very interesting for the children. The presentation of stories in a theatrical style captured the audience. All the children, teachers and parents appreciated the presentation by the organizer. The art of storytelling, expressions, and gestures, were attractive to the children. They also learnt the nuances of dance.
Ringal Stall: with the objective of increasing awareness in children about arts connected to the local environment, a local ringal stall was put up (Ringal is a kind of dwarf bamboo). The reference person connected to ringal craft, Shri Keshar Lal ji, told children about things made with ringal and also demonstrated the craft to them by creating some objects.
Science Stall: Applying science by connecting it to life was intriguing for most children and teachers. The children greatly enjoyed activities such as balancing twelve nails on one, linking three islands, making eggs stand vertically, and so on.
Potter’s corner: Children used clay to create piggy banks, glasses, pitchers, and bowls. Many found making clay vessels in Uttarkashi to be amazing artwork and were captivated by the potter’s wheel. Some even crafted their favourite animals with the clay. For children and local youth, this stall remained a topic of intrigue till the end.
A world of books: This stall attracted everyone with a colourful array of books for children and adults. It was decorated with posters which featured songs celebrating the importance of books.
Art stall: The children lost themselves in the world of art. Colours in hand, they brought out the shades of the earth - mixing water colours, designing new shapes with oil colours. About eighty children sat with the reference person Talwar ji, an art teacher famous in Uttarkashi district, and learnt how to make pencil sketches.
Cycle ride: This was a unique stall. The children really enjoyed the process of taking a cycle apart and then putting it back together. Several dirtied their hands over the cycles - removing the tires, taking the tube out, locating the puncture and fixing it, fitting the tube back in the tire, and pumping air in the tires. Children from remote schools even wanted to learn how to ride a cycle, and some attempted it. Children learnt the science behind a cycle through playing and doing.
Bal Choupal’s train of songs: This was unique, with children singing together. Every child felt like singing, and they sang whatever they knew. The organizers encouraged them and added accompaniments to their singing. An air of song and music pervaded the entire Bal Choupal.
Wool and spinning wheel: Here, children were taught the intricacies of making woollen garments by a Bhotiya family from Dunda. More than the children, the adults showed interest in this. Cleaning the wool, weaving yarn, running the spinning wheel, and such details were taught. Some even learnt to work the spindle. The organizers kept stressing that they should concentrate on the spindle and maintain balance to learn how to make woollen clothes.
Teachers Seminar, Dehradun, November 2011
Innovative efforts to make classroom teaching in government schools lively and interesting have been attempted for several decades. Yet, if looked at closely, it is doubtful if any meaningful results have been obtained. It is worth thinking about why despite countess attempts, no positive results are seen. To understand these points from a psychological perspective, the city’s well-known psychologist Ms Rashmi Wadhwa shared her thoughts with the participants at Azim Premji State Institute, Dehradun on 19th November, 2011.
In this discussion, SCERT, state project office, Sarva Shikska Abhiyan, Zilla Education and Training Institute, Dehradun, and teachers from private schools were partnered by NGOs working in the field of education. The discussion mainly focussed in detail on how to understand the child, as also how to make teaching processes during classroom teaching lively while keeping them child-centred.
Theatre Workshop, Uttarkashi, November 2011
A 10-day theatre workshop was organised for teachers and students to develop their interpersonal & creative skills by the Azim Premji District Institute, Uttarkashi from 22nd November to 1st December, 2011. 22 girls and five teachers from three Kasturba Gandhi Girls Schools being operated in Uttarkashi participated in this workshop. The aim was to help the group of teachers and students to employ theatre activities in their academic work and activities.
This workshop was an initiative in innovative education in schools in which the Foundation is collaborating. It was jointly facilitated by Azim Premji State and District Institute member, Subhash Rawat, and Sanjay Semwal and Ganesh Baluni from the Zilla Institute.
The workshop hoped that the participants will incorporate these activities in their schools.