Thursday last week, after having piloted my nature printing workshop at the Mahindra United World College of India with sixteen to eighteen year olds. I took the workshop to a primary school in Pune and one in Bombay where my friends are doing ‘Teach for India’. My friend is in charge of a class of approximately fourty-five children of various ages. She told me that as in most state schools children only study maths and English. In her class each child’s level of reading and arithmetic varies greatly. Some have a good ability to read and write for their age, while others cannot even recognise the alphabet.
Trying to get to terms with how the school system worked led me to understand why schools and those in charge of educational policy would restrict the curriculum to just maths and English: their primary purpose is to create a literate workforce and the budget for education in India is extremely low. However, on the other hand, creativity and the arts is such an asset and so enriching to children’s lives! On the most basic level, I was reminded that being able to make art, make something you are proud of can really raise your self esteem, particularly for those who are struggling with school. It was such a privilege to be able to offer this workshop to the kids. They were so enthusiastic, creative and grateful. They made really incredible prints and coloured them in with pencil and paint. After class a few of them asked where they could buy the materials they needed to do this on their own. They were very mature and I hope they were proud of what they created. Photo Credit: Aaran Patel
Thank you Karan, Devika, Aaran and Juhi for welcoming me to your classes.