A story by the pond in Kalkeri

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The setting was a dream; green hills against an evening sky, a placid
pond, a group of happy children in front of me, the tall trees
swaying overhead, and a scary thrill of coming face to face with possible
wildlife in the untamed shrubbery all around. Naturally, the best
story to share with the children of Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya was
Anupam Misra’s Dai ka Talaab (The Ponds of Darbhanga). As I narrated
the story about a selfless pandit, and an even more magnanimous
midwife, I tried not to get dumb-struck by all the sparks of
creativity visible around me. A child in the first row appeared to be
listening attentively to the story even as he wove a beautiful anklet
of grass around his ankle. A child in the last row couldn’t stop
twirling. Some children were playing with their fancy
headgear…crowns and caps made from leaves for their drama practice
in the earlier hour. And it was clear from their energetic responses
that they were taking in the story quite well.
Learning happens at various levels. I don’t have research material to
quote from but am convinced that children learn best when they are in
a pleasant environment. And they definitely don’t need to be sitting
ramrod straight in a chair to be imbibing. This is evident when one spends some time at Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya, a free school of performing arts and academics for children from socially and economically disadvantaged families. Children spend hours
practising and learning the nuances of Hindustani classical music in
this remote school in a dusty corner of Dharwad. 

They learn Kannada,
maths, science, history and how to wash their plates effectively with
ash. They also learn English through a special syllabus put together
by volunteers and the team at KSV. I wondered why they had copied
Where is my bat? and My Friends in their copybook, no pun
intended…a lesson in handwriting or word recognition, maybe. The
child in Dai ka Talaab is a genius. The children in KSV are not far
behind! And I am awe-stuck at how every child has the potential to shine if only we are able to give them the right facilities.

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