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Madhumita Chakraborty

Feisal Alkazi
Year 2016, pp. 110, Rs. 200.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

There is not a single Bengali child who grows up without reading a lot of Rabindranath Tagore. From the toddler stage whether in poems, stories, songs or plays, Tagore is an integral part of Bengali consciousness. And even outside the confines of Bengal on both sides of the border, Tagore, as the only Indian Nobel Laureate in literature occupies a position that is peerless. Feisal Alkazi’s book Tagore for Today is a teaching resource that aims to bring the bard into the classroom, and make him more accessible to the current generation of children, by using not just academic tools but an interesting mix of literature and art appreciation. As the blurb states, ‘Every child may not grow up to be a writer or an artist, but learning to understand the arts is essential to education.’ In this aim alone, to get children to learn to understand and appreciate the arts, the book is an invaluable resource. It aims to highlight the multifaceted genius that Tagore was and is, and the relevance of his worldview even today. In fact, Tagore’s writings on women’s emancipation, empowerment, nationalism become all the more crucial and critical in today’s day and age, and the book is successful in one of its major aims to make children more aware about the world and their surroundings, to teach them to ‘become careful observers, critical thinkers and curious learners’. The introduction also hits the nail on the head as it observes that such a crucial and complementary relationship between literature and the arts has been widely ignored in our school curriculum where students are mere spectators rather than participants, where art has meant a few strokes on the canvas or a perfunctory chapter on painters and their works. The critical ability to critique, question and deconstruct the work of an artist has been missing in the classroom, and this book is a bold attempt to change this teaching-learning process. Keeping in mind that the book is designed as a teacher’s resource, and aimed at inculcating a sense of the arts in children, the content is also interesting, and goes beyond the commonplace curriculum structure that we are used to seeing in school books. Each section uses examples from various works of Tagore to highlight different aspects. The first section focuses on the art of writing—the attention to detail, capturing the atmosphere, ...

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