[Post updated on April 20, 2016] After quite a few visits to Eklavya Nyasa, we decided that we should now focus on teaching the kids something concrete. So this time, we went there with a map of India, to teach them the states and the capitals, but in form of quizzes and games instead of lectures. It was a huge success actually, and the kids learned pretty well! We had an e-mail chain with the group later, asking each other’s feedback. Presenting a part (again! heheh) of the e-mail I wrote…
“And yes, the learn@fun strategy is a must! There’s no way we can make kids learn something unless we introduce the fun side of the learning. This clearly reflects in the attitude of the children too. As Nandini (one of the kids we met last Saturday at Eklavya) said, “didi jab hum log book leke baithte ho padhne ko tab kuchh capitals yaad nahi rehte…par aaj achchese reh raha hai.”
Another thing I would like to suggest is that when we are talking about the overall development of the children, we should not just restrict ourselves to increasing their knowledge; we should also focus on increasing their capacity of thinking and understanding, not just in terms of numerical or logical problem solving, but in terms of making them understand general concepts about life (this is very important for them because they come from such an unprivileged background.) I’m saying this because since I met these kids first in July, I have always felt that they are very brilliant, and can excel in academics and other fields; it’s just that they don’t really see a reason why they should. Motivation to live life normally is what is lacking in them and I won’t say it’s their fault. They just need to be reminded that they too are important members of the society, and what they think and do makes a difference to the world! Like what a man whom we met there did! He was talking to the kids about life in general, and I would say the response he got was mixed. Some kids were very interested, and gave such thoughtful answers to his questions, that we were amazed!!! I mean absolutely amazed! He was talking to the kids about the meaning of being good and bad, and what’s God. And to this, guess what Navnath (a really bright kid, I must say!!) said? He said “We make idols out of stone and offer flowers, oil and other goodies to that idol. If instead we use the same money and efforts to help the needy, or for some good cause, then that’s called God.” I was completely stunned, and so was everyone there. Such insight, such thoughts are definitely not expected from a normal 12-year-old. I am not saying that this thought was his own; maybe he read or heard it from somewhere. But the fact that the thought appealed to him, that he understood it, that he believed in it and also had the courage to say such a diagonal thought in front of everyone; is really commendable!
The other kids also had their own different views on these topics, and I won’t discard any of them. Some didn’t have any ideas and were very quiet. So our task would be nurturing the thoughts of children who already have some of their own, and encouraging others to start thinking as well. So I would suggest that apart from knowledge building activities, we should also slowly start looking for ideas to involve these children in “thinking process”. That of course will not come soon, for them, and for us.: -) I think it would be better if we ask the elder members of CSR to engage in such stuff, coz most people of our age are not mature enough to do that. Also, as I observed last time, the children look forward to meeting us, and they look up to elders for what they feel and have to say. Well, these are just a few thoughts. These apart, our normal activities and those now suggested by Joseph n co will definitely help the kids, and help us in getting a smile on all our faces! 🙂 “