Wednesday – day 6 of our visit to Kerala. Today we spent the morning with the 6th grade students (year 7). We got on one of the extremely smart, air-conditioned school buses with the children heading off to town and a visit to the folklore museum. I sat at the back with the boys. A bus ride with Indian school kids is an experience. No seat belts, no need to sit apparently! The boys were all standing up crowded around my seat chatting to me about English culture, playing word games and charades. I was a little nervous for their well-being knowing the driving standards! But this was normal it seems, the teacher didn’t ask them to sit, complain, nothing. The girls at the front were the same – no health and safety concerns here it seems!!
As we settled in to chat I asked them about their social studies work, this being the subject that has really brought us to India, global citizenship. They told me that they understood that you could be a global citizen from anywhere, you don’t need to travel to understand. This was like an echo to six years ago when I undertook a global citizenship project for Teachers’ TV. They use Smart class – via the internet and do projects about the environment, countries around the world etc. This class have learnt about the problems that waste brings to their part of the world – pollution and environmental damage. I asked them what they thought could be done to help and they suggested planting trees and recycling (which, as a school they have done) and avoiding the use of plastic. When I asked how they could fix pollution issues in more remote and poor areas where people are far less educated and may see plastic as a boon rather than a problem, they said they could teach them by writing articles in newspapers. I questioned the use of this if they couldn’t read and they came back with radio. How the power of words can help! I left the conversation with the suggestion that they write a song for a radio station! Let’s see what happens with that.
Naipunnya as a school believes strongly in a value education, bringing the children up with not just a solid educational base but also a good emotional grounding. They have just begun a program called SALT – which they’ve bought into and receive specialised teachers in to instruct the children on a monthly basis. SALT stands for Skills and Attitudes for Life Transformation. The children were very excited whilst telling me about this. It is really new to them and the teachers, but they are taking this creative approach on board alongside the more formal teaching of other subjects. The lessons are much more group focused with discussions about current affairs, emotional intelligence and creative minds taking place. Sounds to me like a great step towards skills for life in a very traditional setting.
The museum was phenomenal and deserves a blog post to itself so I’ll save that for another time.