Monday, February 03, 2014

I hate arts!

I am pleased to share with you NalandaWay's story of the month.
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I hate arts!

“Why should I learn the arts?”

“I hate Arts.”

“How long is today’s training?”

“When are the coffee and tea breaks?”

These were a continuous volley of questions that came in from one of our participants- Geetha, at our Teachers’ Training Program.  She was very smartly dressed and intelligent, but the defiance in her body language was loud and clear. 

The queries came in on the first day of the training and my colleague and I were both amused and flustered at this questioning- because the other participants were keenly observing this exchange and gauging our response.  We let Geetha rant, gave her a patient hearing and promised her that the 5 days spent with us would help her and her peers open new avenues both in terms of relationships and learning. She was not convinced but continued to be a reluctant participant, often disrupting our schedule and looking at us with a bored expression.

Geetha was one of the 25 teachers who participated in our Achieve through Arts program. The program focuses on improving the 5 Cs among teachers - communication, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and class management. As part of the program, teachers get an opportunity to interact with art experts and are also trained in stage mechanics, role plays and pure art works. It helped teachers like Geetha create a fun learning environment for their students. Children now find the learning process more engaging as core subjects are integrated with art.  This motivates them to attend school regularly and has led to reduced dropouts and absenteeism among them. Besides that it also helps teachers in their personal development and shedding their inhibitions in expressing themselves.

As the days progressed in the teachers training program, the ice thawed and Geetha surprised herself, her peers and even us through her unique art works, quick wit and ability to understand the process and help her peers. Her histrionics were the highlight of the workshop. The program gradually influenced her to become uninhibited – sometimes stretching on the floor during the art sessions, establishing eye contact with us, incessant exploration and losing track of time by saying” Oh! I didn’t realize it was time for a coffee break!”

Underlining all this was the gentle nudge, encouragement and appreciation which brought on a small shy smile to her face and a murmur questioning, “Is my work really good?”

It was now our turn to smile as we were convinced that our program design works!!!

Where is Geetha today? She is the most popular teacher who brings out the best in her children! Her class is the most motivated with constant encouragement and incentives. They flock to her as she has a story to tell them everyday, helps them explore and learn the concepts through the creative activities she designs for them – truly helping them ‘Achieve through Arts’

Uma Viswanathan
Head - Projects
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