Interactive session in class
Although I have to spend a lot of time outside the school I wait for the opportunity to interact with the kids whenever I am in school. Yesterday I found there was no teacher in the Mercury class (Grade1) in our Jayanagar school and I just walked in. In Parikrma, we have moved away from the boring nomenclatures of Grade 1, 2 ,3 etc and have instead named all our classes after planets, so our children have a great time traveling in space inside school! These six year olds are anyone’s delight. We spend so much of time in education forums discussing how to inculcate critical thinking, creativity in teaching but find it difficult to have the teachers actually implement it. I thought I should give it a try. I asked these first generation learners, who have spent a year in Parikrma and are fairly conversant in English, the name of a wild animal with a long neck. Most of the thirty little hands in the class went up and the unanimous answer was a giraffe. This is what followed: I said, “So, tell me what is the name of another animal with a long neck?” This time no hand went up. I was surprised. “Children, are there no other animal that has a long neck?” One child said, “Akka (they call me Akka in school. This means an older sister), even a camel has a long neck but it is not a wild animal.” One child also said that the camel has a hump and a giraffe does not. I then asked, “That is true and where are camels found?” They all said, “Where there is sand.” But could not give me the name I was looking for… a desert. These six years olds had not been taught that word as yet. So, I wrote the word on the blackboard and played a game of testing how many other words they could give with every letter in the word ‘desert’ they had just learnt. I then went back to the camel and asked them, “What is the difference between a giraffe and camel?” I was surprised that they knew exactly what the word ‘difference’ meant and one child told me that the giraffe had black and white lines which the camel did not have. That led me to introduce the word ‘stripes’ into their vocabulary list and again we played a game of other words with every letter of the word ‘stripe’. This travel with letters and words went on for a few more minutes and then I wanted to test their retention and application and asked them, “So, if camel lives in a desert where do people in a desert live?” Some said, ‘house’ and few said ‘tent’. One child said an ‘igloo’. I feigned ignorance of what an igloo was and the children taught me about how an igloo was made and what kind clothes the eskimos wore. The children then themselves said that an igloo could not last in a desert because it would melt. But the melted ice would be good for the people and the camels in the desert. Then the camel will not need to store water in the hump. These six year olds told me that they would like to make a large refrigerator and carry and igloo to the desert so that the camel does not have to go far to look for water! So, in ten minutes we had travelled all around the world, learnt many new words and even developed an ambition. We did critical and creative thinking all in one. And, I am not even a teacher!
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