My Magical School
Child, I went to an incredible school. Today, I feel powerless and sad because I can not offer this kind of education to my son – Anand. “Our childhood was so different. Things have changed beyond recognition,” ancient times often groan and groan from the past. But my heart is heavy. Can you ask what was so different from my school?
Until the ninth standard, I studied in a school that followed the principles of Nai Taleem (basic education) established by Gandhi. With that, I spent four years at the Nai Taleem School at Sevagram Ashram in Vardha. Education should not be confined within the four walls of the classroom by waving boring songs away from Mother Nature. Nai Taleem Gandhi firmly believed that children learn best by doing socially useful work in the midst of nature. Hence the minds of children would grow and generate a variety of useful skills. To implement such a system of education, Rabindranath Tagore, at the request of Gandhi, sent two brilliant teachers to Sevagram. Mr. Aryanakam came from Sri Lanka and Asha Devi from Bengal. This duo has combined Gandhi Tagore’s teaching methodology with a love of nature and the arts. My parents were involved in this educational experience as they arose. The school has experienced many new experiences in education. Here I will try to remember some of them.
Introduction to Animals
Today, there is much discussion about the conservation of nature and wildlife. However, 27 years ago, this was not so fashionable. Our teacher Marathi, Patil used to carry out his classes sitting on the branch of a family tree. We regaleit with tales of the jungle. He also told us stories about his experiences as a shikari.
Once a mistake, he launched a pregnant deer. Later, he could not bear to see the anguish in his eyes. This was so hurt that she dropped the gun forever. Later, he drew that animal with his camera. The wild animals photography became his passion and he often spent nights sitting alone in a machaan on top of a tree to take a good photograph. The stories he told us showed his deep love and compassion for animals. Listening to their stories was like entering a trance. It seemed like we were going down the jungle path. M. Patil was a master of the word and could paint the images of the jungle. Their stories have had a profound impact on me and soon began to love the jungle and its wildlife. Today the chapter of animals in Marathi textbooks usually begins with a boring phrase: “Animals are living beings, too.” Have Such Intimate Words Succeed To Shoot The Children’s Imagination And Inspire It? The Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra in India remains greenish green with thick jungles. But even in this case, the curriculum seems completely disconnected from the jungle and its fauna.
Festival of Saints
We did not have to swallow the verses of San Tukaram like a bitter pill. Each monzême, our school organized a celebration of the saints. We write essays, make drawings, build murals, and enact short pieces that illustrate inspiring events in the life of the saints. Not only a few, but all children have participated in this event. For fifteen days, there were celebrations at school. Here I learned to recite a verse from San Tukaram in three ways. During the festival, several songs Santos were sung. It is in one of these musical choirs that for the first time he learned to sing raag “Bhairavi”. We have learned many important lessons in a festive atmosphere. This includes the sacred sermons of his history and his contributions to philosophy. But there was one important difference. All this he learned in a very entertaining way and without labels of “language”, “music” or “philosophy” attached to them.
After many years I visited a government school, I saw the same verse from San Tukaram in Marathi a great manual “Kávya kusumanjali”. San Tukaram himself would have had trouble seeing him.
How did I learn botany?
In most schools, botany is taught through textbooks with good photographs or drawings online or live specimens stored in pots. Children try to identify the botanical names of different plants and different varieties of leaves and roots.