What all should be taught to children ?

किं किं पाठ्यं बालकान् ?

What all should be taught to children

My friend Mrs. Sharavari Keny who has done a course for Nursery Teachers, mentioned to me http://www.teachertrainingindia.co.in/

Truly I got quite some interesting information. There is a menu-item “Courses” where there is a drop-down menu listing

  1. Phonics training
  2. Early childhood education course
  3. Early childhood care-education course
  4. Montessori Training course
  5. Nursery Teacher training Course
  6. Pre-Primary Education Course

(1) A click on Phonics Training leads to following information –

“… Phonics is a method for teaching reading and writing of the English language. Phonics involves teaching children to connect sounds with letters or group of letters.

Written language is like a code, so knowing the sounds of letters and letter combinations will help children to decode words as they read. Knowing phonics also helps children to know which letters to use as they write words. Therefore, learning phonics helps children to read and spell well. It creates bright children, boosts and helps them acquire logical skills in reading and writing and prevents rote learning. Since the turn of the 20th century, phonics has been widely used in primary education and in teaching English language literacy throughout the world.

Most children who are poor in reading tend to rely heavily on one reading strategy, such as the use of context and picture clues, and exclude other strategies that might be more appropriate. To become skilled, fluent readers, children need to have a repertoire of strategies to draw on.

One such effective strategy is phonics. Phonics instruction helps students to comprehend text. It helps the student to decode words. Decoding words aids in the development of word recognition, which in turn increases reading fluency. Reading fluency improves reading comprehension because as children are no longer struggling with decoding words, they can concentrate on making meaning from the text. In addition, phonics instruction improves spelling ability because it emphasizes the spelling patterns that become familiar from reading. Studies show that half of all English words can be spelled with phonics rules that relate one letter to one sound. …”

On reading the above, one gets to realize that Phonics training is so very easy with देवनागरी. The final aim of Phonics training is to train children towards spelling of words. In case of देवनागरी training for spelling is just not needed.

With English, however good the Phonics training be, I would guess that it will be hard for children to comprehend why the sound वेअर् has two different spellings – wear and ware (so also for बेअर् – bear and bare टायर् – Tire and tyre). This is because the English, rather, the Roman alphabet is not phonic.

With देवनागरी and also with scripts of most Indian languages, there is no such confusion.

(2) Early childhood education course – A click on this sub-menu item gets one the following information –

“… Early childhood education course judiciously combines theoretical knowledge with practical experience. The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) curriculum has been meticulously planned as per the need of the present day teaching profession. It has incorporated the latest methods and trends of teaching which enable you to meet the demands of the school and the students. It comprises the theory as well as practical subjects.

The theory of Early Childhood Education Course includes topics related to child psychology, school organization, teaching methods and teaching aids, components of child health and nutrition etc. …”

These subjects really are बालमानसशास्त्रम्, शिक्षणसंसाधनानि, बालसङ्गोपनम्

“… The practical part of teacher training includes internship, mock classroom sessions, art and craft, performing arts (rhymes, story-telling, songs) and co-curricular activities like organizing field trips, lesson plans, class observation etc. …”

These courses seem to be available only in English. Should not these courses be in Indian languages for Indian children ?

Coming to the mention of “performing arts (rhymes, story-telling, songs)”, for Indian children,

  • the rhymes and songs should rather be श्लोक-s, स्तोत्र-s, सुभाषितानि
  • the stories should be from पञ्चतन्त्र, हितोपदेश, रामायणम्, महाभारतम्, पुराणानि, अकबर-बिरबलयोः, तेनाली-रामन्-वर्यस्य कथाः. We have such a vast repertoire !

I have seen Indian parents sending their children both to Nursery schools and also to बालसंस्कारवर्ग-s or to शिशुविहार-s, simply because the so-called Nursery schools teach children in English education. This extra activity and anxiety of sending children to बालसंस्कारवर्ग-s or to शिशुविहार-s should just not be necessary, if the education in Nursery schools becomes Indian education, focused on Indian culture भारतीय-संस्कृति

Is it not an irony that Sanskrit is compulsory even in children’s education in St. James School in London, but in India, Indian parents need to send their children both to Nursery schools and also to बालसंस्कारवर्ग-s or to शिशुविहार-s, if at all the बालसंस्कारवर्ग-s or शिशुविहार-s are available in the neighborhood ?!

All this has to change.

Actually, what is new in all this ? Grandmothers had been doing this so very wonderfully for hundreds and thousands of years and with far more love and care and affection and with the smartness of all ancient wisdom, including that of child-care and child-health.

There is no point in lamenting over what went wrong, why it went wrong, how it went wrong. Let us put it back on track. Sooner the better.

शुभमस्तु |


Thoughts on Child-level education

मनस्यागच्छति यत् पाठ्यक्रमाः वयोमानानुसारिणः भवेयुः

Curricula should be graded by age

वयोमानानुसारिणि पाठ्यक्रमे बाल्यावस्थायाः विचारः

Thoughts on Child-level education

पाठनारंभस्तु बाल्यादेवावश्यकः यथा

Education should begin right from childhood

  1. मलमूत्रविसर्जनमत्र तत्र न कर्तव्यमिति पाठनं प्रायः प्रथमम् | दृश्यताम् – Learn how your child can make the switch from diapers to the toilet in a few days – or even an afternoon – with one popular potty training method. (See – http://www.babycenter.com/0_potty-training-in-three-days-or-less_10310078.bc)
  2. कुतूहलं खलु बालसङ्गोपनविषये के विचाराः आयुर्वेदे ? Is there anything detailed in आयुर्वेद about nursing of children ?
  • 2.1 शरीरावयवानां सक्षमता कथं वर्धते स्वभावतः संस्कारैश्च ? How does strength or faculties of limbs and organs develop in the natural course and by training ?
  • 2.2 बुद्धेः सक्षमता कथं वर्धते स्वभावतः संस्कारैश्च ? How does intellectual faculty develop in the natural course and by training
  1. बाल्यमिति आजन्मतः सार्धैकवर्षतावत् अष्टादशमासानां कालावधिः खलु ? Can childhood be considered as the period of 18 from birth to age of one and half years ?
  2. 2002-तमे वर्षे मम पौत्रः सार्धैकवर्षीयः आसीत् | तं अङ्के गृहीत्वा अहं एकां “Toyland Train”-नाम्नीं  DVD-चक्रिकां चालयन्नासम् | तां चक्रिकां वारंवारं दृष्ट्वा श्रुत्वा च बहु हार्दं शिक्षणमभवन्मम पौत्रस्य | किं किमासीत् तस्यां चक्रिकायामित्यस्य विवरणं अस्त्यत्र

In 2002, when my grandson was barely 18 months old, I got a DVD “Toyland Train”. I used to play the DVD taking my grandson in my lap. It is nostalgic for me what amount of training he got by watching and listening and interacting with the DVD. Contents of the DVD can be read here → http://www.amazon.com/Encore-13800-Muppet-Babies-Toyland/dp/B000050AWJ)

Preschool learning software featuring the Muppet Babies, A fun and educational activity at every train stop Learning activities designed to be played at multiple levels, 8 learning areas including shapes, body parts, animals, and more, 5 levels of game play; games suitable for ages 2 to 5

यद्यपि चक्रिका द्विवर्षतः पञ्चवर्षीयाणां बालकेभ्यः इति उल्लिखितासीत् सार्धैकवर्षीयाय मम पौत्राय किमपि काठिन्यं नासीत् | बालकानां ग्रहणशक्तिविषये अस्माकं कल्पनाः विचाराः एव न्यूनाः भवन्तीति मे मतिः अनुभवश्च |

Although they say that the DVD is for children of 2 to 5 years of age, I have direct experience of grasping capacity of children. It seems our own concepts of grasping capacity of children are inferior to actual.

  1. We should have clearer concepts of what children should learn. Nursery rhymes such as “Humpty Dumpty sat on  a wall” are senseless. Instead children can be taught
  • 5.1 श्लोक-s, स्तोत्र-s, सुभाषितानि.
  • 5.2 Reading the clock
  • 5.3 Family-tree – with growing number of small households, close relatives are appearing to be becoming distant relatives.
  1. बाल्यानां शिक्षणं क्रीडयैव भवितव्यम् | Adventures of Tom Sawyer-पुस्तके साधु निर्दिष्टं मार्क-ट्वेन्-वर्येण “Work is what one is obliged to do, play is what one is not obliged to do” कति आह्लाददायकं भवेत्सर्वं शिक्षणं यदि सर्वं क्रीडया एव पठ्यते !! प्रायः कश्चित् तथैव विचारः भास्कराचार्यस्य विचारः यत्तेन तस्य गणितग्रन्थस्य नाम लीलावतीति अभिहितम् | दृश्यतां चित्रेऽस्मिन् किञ्चिदास्तरणं वर्णाक्षराणामङ्कानाम् च

Education of children should happen gamefully. Playschool is a very charming word. How rightly did Mr. Mark Twain coin the phrase in his Adventures of Tom Sawyer “Work is what one is obliged to do, play is what one is not obliged to do”. See below the picture of an alphabet and numbers mat. My son had got one for my grandson.


 Child with soccer ball  Soccer with child

Values-based Education

Since Universal and eternal values is the important essence of संस्कृत the language and संस्कृति cultural richness, inherent to it, it becomes a point to ponder upon, whether, education, if conducted through courses, syllabi and textbooks compiled in संस्कृत and based on संस्कृत texts will become values-based education.

I hence posted following message to a couple of Google-groups, of which I am a member and to others, whom I have known to be interested in most things संस्कृत.

संप्रतिकाले योगोऽभवन्मिलितुं श्रीमन्तं प्रफुल्ल-पण्ड्या-महोदयम् | अभिभावितोस्मि खलु तस्य विचारैः | संक्षेपेण तस्य भूमिका एतावता |

ज्ञातं मानीतञ्च यत् संस्कृतवाङ्मये विविधविषयाणां ज्ञानं निश्चयेन वर्तते | तथापि यदि कस्यापि विषयस्य अभ्यासाः बालवयसः आरभ्य
विश्वविद्यालयीनाभ्यासक्रमेण प्रस्तवनीयाः, कथं भवेत् सः क्रमः केषां पुस्तकानां संहितानां संदर्भग्रन्थानामाधारेण वा |

ज्ञातं मानीतञ्च यत् गुरुकुलाः आसन् | तत्र आचार्याः छात्रान् विविधान् विषयान् पाठयन्तः आसन् | तेषु पाठनेषु क्रमाः अपि आसन्नेव | पाठनाय संहिताः
अप्यासन् | अप्यस्ति कापि उपलब्धिः कुत्रापि कः सः क्रमः कास्ताः संहिताः एतद्विषये ? यद्युपलब्धिर्नास्ति अपि शक्या तेषां पुनर्रचना ?

अधुनापि शालासु, महाविद्यालयेषु विश्वविद्यालयेष्वपि पाठ्यक्रमास्तु सन्त्येव | तथापि न ज्ञातं कस्य विषयस्य पाठ्यक्रमस्य कस्मिन् स्तरे का संहिता पाठनीया
इति | अपि शक्यमेतद्विधं सङ्कलनम् ?

प्रफुल्ल-पण्ड्या-महोदयेन संचालितेन गुजरातराज्यस्थितेन महुवाग्रामस्थितेन शाश्वत-संस्कृति-प्रतिष्ठानेन कृषिविषयस्य पाठ्यक्रमस्य एका पुस्तिका
सिद्धास्ति |

ज्ञायते यत् सर्वस्मिन् भारतवर्षे द्वादशशताब्दतः एकोनविंशतिशताब्दतावत् सप्तशतवर्षाणि तावत् भास्कराचार्याणां लीलावती-बीजगणितमादयः ग्रन्थाः
संहितारूपेण प्रयुक्ताः आसन् | गणितविषये वैदिकगणितसूत्राण्यपि विख्यातानि सन्ति अधुना |

अस्ति मत्सार्धमेकं धनञ्जय-देशपाण्डे-महोदयस्य पुस्तकं “वेदेषु विज्ञानम्” इति |
आयुर्वेदस्तु एकः वेदः एव इति मानीतः | अद्यापि पाठ्यतेऽपि | आयुर्वेदस्य पाठ्यक्रमस्त्वस्ति | किं न तस्मात् शरीरशास्त्रस्य आरोग्यशास्त्रस्य प्राथमिकाः विचाराः बालान् शालासु पाठनीयाः ?

संक्षेपतः सङ्कलनानि कर्तव्यानि सन्ति विविधानां विषयाणां क्रमिताभ्यासाय केषु स्तरेषु काः संहिताः पाठनीयाः इति |

प्रार्थयन्ते सूचनाः विधायकाः टीकाटिप्पण्यश्च |

(2) I got one response मम संदेशस्य उत्तरे प्राप्तः अयं विमर्शः –

संस्कृतमाध्यमेन पाठनाय अधुनाऽपि पर्याप्ता पाठ्यसामग्री इतस्ततोऽस्ति।
तथापि नवीनानां पाठ्यसामग्रीणां निर्माणमाधुनिककालोपयोगितया कर्तव्यमेव।
(3) I replied to this as follows अयं विमर्षोऽपि मया निम्नमिव उत्तरितोऽस्ति –
धन्यवादाः भवतः विमर्षणाय | साधूक्तं यत्
  1. पाठ्यसामग्री इतस्ततोऽस्तीति | यद्यदितस्ततोऽस्ति तस्य विषयानुसारि सङ्कलनं कर्तव्यमिति केचन उपक्रमाः संभवन्ति |
  2. इदमपि साधु यत् नवीनानां पाठ्यसामग्रीणां निर्माणमाधुनिककालोपयोगितया कर्तव्यम् | तद्विधाः केचन अन्याः उपक्रमाः संभवन्ति |

द्वाभ्यामपि दृष्टिभ्यां समवायस्य सदस्याः कति योगदानं दास्यन्तीति ज्ञातुं मम सन्देशस्य भूमिका |

While I keep waiting to receive more responses, to go by the edict “Charity begins at home”, i have started some detailing of this thought by myself. The details as will emerge will be presented in further post(s)