Monday, November 22, 2010

Bedtime conversation

 'J' is going to her new school for a week now. She is getting up every morning without complaints and coming back every afternoon with a smile on her face. She likes the bus journey also. What else can her mum want?

As she is little behind in her maths (she was learning time and money there but here they are teaching division before going to time, minor differences among different schools) and as she is learning Hindi from zero, so there are few pages of home works every day. We tackle with those together (mummy, daddy and 'J') in the evening. By the time 'J' goes to bed, she gets tired and the clock denies any time for bed time story (used to be our strict ritual previously). Anyway, we both agree to the fact that after few days, we will be able to start that once again (I doubt though, considering her school timing and time being eaten up in her daily commute to and from school, anyway lets see). But we still talk a bit before she dozes off. As I feel this is the most relaxed time for both of us and this is the time when she opens up completely. I generally let her talk and resist asking much questions, she opens up,  I just listen her chattering. This is the time when I get to see her real self.

Yesterday, I asked her whether she has a story time in their class? She yawned, but she wanted to talk too. She said "No Mama, here there is no story time or golden time (where a child can choose what they want to do between reading storybook, art, computer and play), no project or drama. Everyday it is the same as is written in the Almanac (what we used to call school diary). Maths, Hindi, English and EVS (Environmental Sciences)." I asked "What about the computer class (before her admission we were shown a computer room in the school with many computers), that must be fun?" She replied "Oh! today computer teacher said computers are not working so we learned computer in our book."I asked "'J' did you have art and craft today?" As I know this is her strong interest, she said that she liked and made a greeting card using her own art things (this is new to her as previously the art and craft material were provided be her school and so there were ample varieties of types of coloring medium, papers and brushes or pencils).

I know her time table, it is given in her Almanac (what we used to call school diary). And there are music, library, drawing, computer, games  and yoga classes one at each day of the weak along with Maths, Hindi, English and EVS (Environmental Sciences). But still I asked her as story time, golden time project and drama were in her previous school curriculum in UK besides art and craft, sports, music, English and Mathematics. Children were very fond of story time and golden time as their imagination was harnessed in these times. We all know that they love to imagine, pretend and dream. The class rooms there were divided into special corners where they can make models with Lego blocks, do jigsaw puzzle or make models using cardboard  or other materials, no not only in lower primary but in higher classes too. Kids were more mobile (always in organized manner though) and they did not need to sit at one place all the time. The tables and chairs were arranged so that 4-6 children sit with each other face to face and do their work as a team and not always as an individual. Here 'J' is little sad as they are supposed to sit in their class all the time except for morning prayer and games/yoga/mass PT time. Art and craft, lunch, music everything is done on her desk.  Also the tables are arranged in rows so she always need to look at the board, turning back or leaning forward is not a good manner, she knows that. Also she seemed to be little bored as everyday it is same thing going on, teachers coming in class, opening the text books, reading something, writing something, copying the home work from blackboard. I guess she is lacking the surprise element which her class teacher used to create in Scotland, a little introductory story before starting a topic, involving the kids by asking them what would they do if they were born in Roman period and so on. Kids were encouraged to bring materials /books from home which can be helpful for the topics being discussed at school. Like if they are studying about water animals at school then kids can bring some plastic toys they have at home. They were encouraged to show that to the class with proper explanation hence opening them to public speaking. The focus was more on creating interest towards a topic and then letting kids free to figure out how much information they want to collect and how much they want to memorize. Here the focus is restricted to the few pages of the textbooks, spellings, learning the facts, writing them down in question answer, finishing the syllabus every year. While in Europe syllabus was a broad concept to be completed in five years of primary schooling. I am not dead against of the system in India as I myself had same kind of education and the repetitiveness of reading, writing and Mathematics is essential for grasping education in a languages which are not our mother tongue (English or Hindi is not mother tongue of most Indians)  and also in India the books the materials were not in plenty even few years ago, but I was just wondering if kids can explore little more and let their curiosity expand, will that not be even better? 

These were all the thoughts going through my mind as I was listening to 'J' speaking. But then the clock was ticking, so I told her" 'J' now you should sleep, otherwise  you will miss the school bus tomorrow." She said "Yes, Mama." I kissed and hugged tightly my newly obedient child  and put off the lights.

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