Saturday, January 2, 2010

Views: India--Moving Beyond the Textbooks

Dear All,

In India, there is an effort to use local Indian writers and film/drama directors' writing in the classroom.

Below are the views of stakeholders and a few articulate Indian teens expressing their support and reasons for this move to supplement their English textbook.

Rodney Tan

Moving Beyond the Textbooks

Mumbai: Lessons learnt through visual medium will register permanently in their mind
The move to include Satyajit Ray and Amitav Ghosh to class XI elective English syllabus of CBSE is a good move. According to me, students should be made to read novels from primary school, because it not only helps them to instil reading habits, but also opens them to a new world of thoughts. At our school, we start reading exercises from class I. We also focus on showing movies and connect them to different subjects. For example, a film like Pay It Forward can be used to understand social study and literature.
Moreover, if a novel is set in England then we teach our students about currency conversion. Mixing different subjects makes it not only interesting but easy for the students. Instead of class XI, CBSE educators should introduce the change from lower classes since it will inculcate a passion for reading among students. It is scientifically proven that stories touch the emotional core of the brain.
This makes learning more powerful. Also, one might forget dates or names, but it is difficult to forget a story or a plot. All education institutes should focus on teaching the works of various authors and directors, since we live in a globalised world. Children need to know about different cultures and literature.
—Lina Ashar, educationist and chairperson-Kangaroo Kids Education Ltd

Pupils need to look beyond video games
Introducing novels and movies apart from the usual English syllabus is a wonderful idea. It will inculcate reading habits in children. Today, children are addicted to the world wide web and spend most of their time either surfing the internet or playing video games. Hence, we need to introduce some reforms so that students start reading books apart from their textbooks. Indian authors like Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh are world class writers.
And reading their books along with international writers will not only provide an insight into what wholesome writing is, but also give an insight into different genres of literature and diverse cultures. ICSE showcases plays by Shakespeare which help students in improving their language skills. Many students might take it as an extra burden and opt for easy options like internet or guides for different subjects, but in the long run it will prove healthy since it will improve their imaginative skills.
—Cyril D’souza, teacher, Campion school

Will create curiosity about fine arts
Today it’s essential that children have to be proficient in all areas. The way our curriculum has been made, it seems that children need to mug up the course. The initiative to go beyond the normal curriculum has some positive aspects. First the positive benefit is that it will create awareness among children about the legendary work of Indian writers and filmmakers. Earlier they were known to be legends in their lifetime but hardly anyone got to know about their creation and work. Secondly, in this way all schools will be forced to inculcate the reading habit and appreciation for films, which is quite exciting for children.
—LK Jain, parent

All education boards must follow this
The initiative of CBSE Board to include a renowned author like Amitav Ghosh and filmmaker Satyajit Ray is really commendable. In this way, our children will get to know the genius of Satyajit Ray and the movies he made. Writing stories in the past and in contemporary age has changed, with a writer like Amitav Ghosh. Since this won’t be an imposed study, the students will enjoy reading the book and watching films. Moreover students have more chances of scoring more marks with their own interest. But the benefit of this idea should be used by all the education boards across the country.
—Kavita Majithia, parent

Dramas and theatrical productions must be part of study
I’m an avid reader. I really relish reading novels
and story books. If such books are made part of the
syllabus, then I will be happy. We will not just read them, but get detailed analysis of the same from the teachers. Many authors and well known filmmakers have established a good reputation aboard, but youngsters, like me, today often miss out on their works. So I think this is a break from the usual academic
learning that we have been doing till date. Of late, our syllabus has moved beyond just rote learning. Apart from novels and movies, it will also be great to watch some plays and give a critical appreciation for the same.
—Tanvi Parulekar, 14, St Ignatius School

Educators must think out of the box to make learning more interesting
Contrary to popular belief, students are keen on reading works by Indian writers and watching classics. I don’t think academics is bookish any longer. There are subjects that involve more than textbook learning. Many changes have taken place during the past few years.
The initiative to introduce films and books for compulsory study, will make learning more interesting. It has the potential of reducing the pressure of purely academic subjects. I think practical knowledge is more important. It will also instil the habit of analysis and appreciation which is diminishing these days. The current education system is good, but such new ideas are welcome.
—Candice Samuel, 14, Carmel Convent School

Will revive interest in cultural heritage and generate creativity
Rigid academic curriculum forces us to study only our syllabus. This makes the course quite boring. Moreover, children source reference material from the internet, so there is hardly anytime to read the valuable contributions of writers and filmmakers. If students will be judged on the same, more students will opt for reading books and watching films of renowned Indian directors. It will introduce a temper of creativity among pupils, they will learn to appreciate more than what is printed in textbooks and guides. Moreover, few remember the classics made by Satyajit Ray due to the overdose of Bollywood movies. It will revive interest in our heritage.
—Noopur Sen, 16, RN Podar School


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