Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Picnics or study tours?

The other day when my children told me that they have a class picnic and that they would be spending time at a resort, my father-in-law reminisced about the kind of picnics that they used to have. He told us that as part of school outing they would be taken to nearby sugar factories and would be shown how sugar was prepared or to small scale industries where they would be shown how fabrics were woven, followed by swimming in the local waterbody and lunch in the lush green fields and play before packing their bags.

That set me thinking; can't our children also have such kind of picnics which is fun and at the same time brings in some practical education? Many of you might be familiar with this joke where, when a teacher asked the class children where one gets milk from, the answers varied from packets, milk booth and shops! Somehow, the cow did not come into the picture at all!

But seriously, our education system hardly gives us any real insights other than studying and answering questions from books. Even during my time, we still did not have what I call hands on education. We would read theoretically about agriculture, cultivation of crops, irrigation system and so on as part of our curriculum. Beyond that we hardly knew how rice or barley or wheat crops were grown. Thanks to our urban upbringing! We all admire the lush green fields en-route to a resort, take pictures of farmers working in their fields, gasp in delight at the picturesque scenery as we call it and leave the memories trapped in our cameras. Period.

We go to supermarkets and pile up the trolley with packets of various items like sugar, biscuits, different kinds of flours and so on. But do we know exactly how sugar is prepared from sugarcane? How jaggery is made? What processes are involved in dehusking and cleaning of different cereals? Same way we buy apparels but we do not know how a cloth is woven from the stage of fibre to a fabric, how a loom works, how materials are dyed and the whole lot of procedure involved which goes into the making of a cloth.

At least during our time we had some exposure into this as our grandparents lived in villages / small towns and we used to get to see all of this, but now that everyone have moved out or the smaller villages now have become semi urban towns, our children have absolutely no exposure to real life equivalents of what they study at school.

Imagine the delight of little children if they are taken from the school to fields where they actually get to work alongside the farmers and you know how little ones love to muck around literally! or when  they are taken to factories and shown how the day to day materials that they use are made, they would love to tinker in garages or factories to see how automobiles work. Learning would then become more enjoyable and meaningful don't you think? One which will be remembered for a lifetime? Wouldn't it be the best way of imparting knowledge to our children right from a young age to respect dignity of labour? What more, when they do it alongside their friends they enjoy it much more.

What do you think?


Dr. Suhasini said...

Hi Shobana,

I'm from Stanley Girls' High School, Nampally Hyderabad. (I passed out in 1976)- very ancient yeah?!

I still remember three educational tours from our school: 1) The Vijaya Dairy at Lalaguda - the greasy floors, the smell -which was surprisingly obnoxious in some areas, the pasteurization, packet filling areas etc. We were given flavoured milk at the end of the tour.
2) Asoka Biscuits factory: I don't remember the details - only that all of us cribbed that we were given a pack of only 3 biscuits. and
3) DBR Cotton mills-I remember the plight of the workers we were told then that were exposed to lung diseases.

In contrast, my nephew who is 3rd standard had been taken recently to Institute of Fashion Technology - to learn something about fabric kinds!

shobhana shenoy said...

Thanks Dr. Suhasini,
Yes even during our time we were taken to the dairy, farm house, and we were also taken to visit the border security force in Yelahanka near Bangalore.
I felt it was all a good learning experience.

The trend now is exotic and expensive trips to places like Switzerland, U.S and so on.Imagine additional burden to the parents.