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Nature the teacher

SHRUTI PARTHASARATHY

A method evolved at a recently conducted workshop in Kerala could well be a solution to igniting young minds.



Cart made from waste material.

Children respond to their surroundings wonderfully — their world is sensory and their response to nature spontaneous and natural.

Children living in rural areas and tribal children are intimately familiar with their surroundings, able to identify and name all the trees, birds, edible, non-edible fruits, imitate birdcalls in their area.

Renowned craft activist and educationist, K.B. Jinan, has been working with children in the rural areas and conducting workshops for teachers, artists, students in urban areas. In a unique experiment in the tiny potter's village of Aruvacode, Kerala, Jinan has evolved a workshop to introduce and heighten the ready world of senses to children. "Using our senses keenly and being attuned to our immediate surroundings will permit the biological guidance present in each one of us, to unlock our creative potential," says Jinan.

Observe nature

Aimed at "Sensitising their senses" as well as to inculcate in children a close observation of nature, the workshop is titled "Sensing Nature: Knowing Nature".

Working with "sight", sensitising children to colour. Provided with two primary colours they are asked to create a shade card, starting from one colour and arriving at the other through every successive, gradual colour combination in between. Texture is introduced by collecting objects with different surfaces — bark, cloth, leaves, coconut shell, jackfruit skin... . from smooth to rough to abrasive. They then simulate these textures on blocks of clay. To sharpen hearing, soft/loud sounds are made, imitating bird and animal calls and evolving games. Placing different objects in front of children who are blindfolded, and making them identify the objects by smelling and tasting them hone smell and taste. To increase awareness of surroundings and sharpen observation, children are asked to draw observing minute details. Large composite activities are assigned to groups, older children `leading' each group. They are asked to create collages/pictures using cut leaves and colourful magazine paper. Another group creates a whole village out of clay. These activities and sessions of story telling and drama that were conducted widen the imagination and teach children to work in groups, to share and collaborate.



Learning to count.

This workshop threw up the startling aspect of complete absence of waste in traditional societies; exemplified by the toys children evolved using plastic bottles, caps, tubes, sticks, cut rubber chappals. Educators and teachers constantly battle with disinterest in their students. They could find in these activities immense possibilities to ignite the minds of their students, teach involvement to a task and introduce them to a world that's always alive.

For further details log on to www.kumbham.org

Email: kumbhammurals@rediffmail.com

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