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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Some Questions for Gandhi

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Gandhi is remembered on certain occasions in India. One such occasion is 30th January, the day he was assassinated. So, questions and discussions on the relevance of his ideas in the 21st century is talked about in certain circles. This post only consists of questions that I would have asked Gandhi had he been alive.
Gandhi would have been deeply hurt by the incomprehensible terror attacks, particularly the attack on the innocent children in Peshawar. Being a journalist himself, he would also have been deeply affected by the attacks on the staff of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

How would Gandhi condemn the attacks? What would he have brought to the table to facilitate a dialogue between the affected parties. Would he have asked for a change in vocabulary? Would he ask to look at the situation from a different perspective? How would he have tried to comprehend this incomprehensible reality?

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A Magazine FOR the Children and BY the Children

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On 1st January 2015, I shared with you about my idea of encouraging reading and writing amongst rural children on Sunday morning workshops. There have been some exciting developments on this front. After writing this post, I thought that on the forum meant for discussing Gandhian philosophy it would be apt to bring out a magazine based on the principles of Nai Talim.
Nai Talim is a scheme of education proposed by Mahatma Gandhi in 1937. Mahatma Gandhi proposed crafts to be the medium of education, that is, through the practice of crafts students will learn disciplinary knowledge.
The three principles of Nai Talim are:
1. Self- awareness
2. Self-reliance
3. Self-discipline
All these principles are held together by experience and social responsibility. I thought a magazine would be the best idea to experiment the potential of Nai Talim. So, I floated the idea, of bringing out a magazine and the selling it in the village, in the workshop amongst children and other facilitators. Everyone accepted it enthusiastically.Their energy and enthusiasm made my day.

But with it began a difficult journey. Difficult because if it was to be done through Nai Talim then students will have to be trained in all skills related to publishing a magazine.
Besides reporting, children volunteered to take responsibility of different tasks. Our work began two weeks ago when students went to collect information about their village. A group of children suggested interviewing the village head and prepared a questionnaire for it.
Today was the third week and we managed to compile 15 entries in the form of information; interviews; opinions; cartoons; social messages; drawings etc. It was heartening to see this. However, I understand a lot of work is still left to do with only two more Sundays to go before the preparation of final copies.
Based on Gandhian principles, minimum machinery will be used and everything will be in-house, as a result it printing cost will be very less. As of now, we have taken a desktop with printer and scanner on loan for bringing out 200 copies. That will be the only expenditure incurred on the magazine. Everything else will be done by hand, including designing and preparing a blue-print.
All this work will be done by the children and for the children.
Lot of work needs to be done, and I am a bit anxious now.
Wish me Luck.

Mourning

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A forest was burnt down in the morning,
potted plant and surviving birds mourned
in my balcony.

New Semester, New Course

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With new year began second semester of the post-graduate course on education in my university. I was asked to teach ‘Educational Administration and Management’ in this semester. I do not have a particular liking for this course and I had explored fewer literature in this area in the past. So, some days before new year I began desperately looking for material to use in my class. I did find some readings but they are all in English and medium of instruction in this course is Hindi. I am still looking for relevant literature in Hindi, in case anyone is aware of any good translations done in this field, then do let me know.
However, while preparing myself for classes, I realised how interesting this course is. I have devised an interesting strategy to deal with the dearth of reading material. This strategy is of creating our own materials in the class. The course deals with the existing educational administration in India, so I have begun with asking them to collect information on various organisations and structures used to develop policies and implement them at different levels in education. Together we share this information, discuss it, question and analyse it. The information is generally collected from websites of these organisations and other relevant government documents. Initially, I thought students may not like gathering information. However, I was surprised to see their enthusiasm. They are all ready with their specified topics and enthusiastically present in class, which is then discussed. After discussion, students are given twenty minutes time to write their views; questions and learnings. The presenter also distributes the material she collated in the process. In this manner we are trying to develop our own materials.
However, we also read texts in class even if they are in English.
So, far this seems to be working for us. If you have better ideas, then please let me know.

Bringing Out Wall Magazine with Children

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For me, 2015 begins with a very special project. I have just joined a group of people who conduct workshops on Gandhian philosophy for children from nearby village on Sundays. These workshops begin at 7:00 AM and go on till 10:00 AM. In these three hours, children engage in various activities such as shramdan (donating labour); physical exercises; games; lectures etc. This is an informal space where children interact; question and reflect on various contemporary issues. No activity is compulsory for any one and everyone is welcome. Around 20 students attend these workshops regularly.

I have decided to use this space to encourage reading and writing amongst children in a meaningful way based on Gandhian scheme of education. My plan is to encourage students to gather information about themselves; their family; their neighbourhood. In other words, we will be collecting and reporting information on their social and physical surroundings. This information can come in various forms such as family tree; folk literature; oral history; about trees; birds and animals etc. This information will then be published in the wall magazine.

After one month, if children agree then we can publish a small newsletter or a magazine and sell it at a cheap price to other children and adults in the village. I still need to work out the details with children and see how many of them want to participate in this activity and how they want to do it.
If you have any suggestions, then please share with me.