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 |