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Andal Jagannathan

By Kamala V. Mukunda . Hindi translation by Purva Yagyik Kushwaha Illustrated by Radhika Neelakantan
2015, pp. 334, Rs. 180.00

Eklavya Publications, Bhopal, 2015, pp. 100, Rs. 80.00

VOLUME XXXIX NUMBER 11 November 2015

You tend to re-read the title of the book School Mein Aaj Tumne Kya Poocha? Shouldn’t it be ‘seekha?’ is what you think. It is precisely that thought which is the crux of the book. The book, originally written in English by Kamala V. Mukunda and titled What Did You Ask At School Today?, has been translated to Hindi, translated very well in fact, by Purva Yagyik Kushwaha. Mukunda’s book assesses the learning environment in present day schools in India. The author compares our methods with those from various schools the world over and prescribes methods that educators, and others who interact with children, can use to promote learning in the real sense of the word. Most schools in India expect students to do as they are told and when they are allowed to talk it is only to give answers that are recognized as ‘right’. Straying from the known path is generally not encouraged. Mukunda focuses on the reasons for children failing to reach their optimal potential in school. The book highlights inefficient teaching practices in our schools and also tells you about methods and strategies that would motivate children to think independently and ask questions to deepen their understanding of various concepts. After all the questions that children ask indicate the depth and quality of their learning. The book starts out by telling you how the brain assimilates knowledge and the mismatch that exists with the way schools expect children to learn. The importance of creativity is emphasized and the negatives of excessive conditioning are discussed in detail. Several aspects of child development such as memory, intelligence, emotional health and other important facets of personality development such as ethics and morality are covered, making the book an immensely useful one. Flip through the book Udaas Mausam ke Khilaaf, and the predominance of seemingly empty pages intrigues you. You give the pages a second glance and the sad yet provoking poetry on a few of the pages nudges your conscience awake. You realize that the book is in fact referred to as a notebook which can be a powerful tool in the hands of someone who chooses to use it in the way indicated. The ‘note’ book marks the passing of thirty years since the Bhopal gas tragedy. Are the empty pages symbolic of the compensation that the victims’ families and survivors of the tragedy received, you ...

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