CHAPTER V STORYBOOKS AND THEIR ORIENTATION TO KNOWLEDGE

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1 CHAPTER V STORYBOOKS AND THEIR ORIENTATION TO KNOWLEDGE

2 The manner in which children read and relate to storybooks, the meanings they attach -to them, and the insights they draw from them were analysed in the previous chapter. Storybooks were also stu.died in tern1s of their potential pedagogic relevance. Taking the argument further, that storybooks do have pedagogic potential, it becomes imperative to understand how storybooks contribute to the cultivation of knowledge. This becomes particularly important as textbooks and their orientation to knowledge has already been discussed before. The sho11comings and limitations of this one-sided importance that the existing system of education attaches to textbooks as the only source of knowledge have also been highlighted. It is in this context that a critical examination of storybooks and their orientation to knowledge acquires relevance and this is what this chapter aims at discussing. This chapter is divided into three major sections. 1. An examination of children's responses to a few stories which were given to them. This would aid in directly testing the pedagogic significance of stories from the children's point of view. 2. A discussion of whether children, their parents and teachers see the possibility of storybooks as a positive intervention in the existing educational practices vis-a-' vis the textbooks. 3. Finally, after gaining this empirical information, an analysis of storybooks m tenns of curriculum and pedagogy. Children's response~ to select stories A set of seven stories were selected and given to students for their responses. These seven stories were selected because, they all in some way or the other were considered to be pedagogically significant. These stories were available both in Hindi and English languages. All these stories are situated in an Indian context and are published by the National Book Trust, Children's Book Trust and Katha Publications in New Delhi. It was important to understand how children perceived these stories. Did they feel that any learning was taking place from these stories? If yes, what kind of learning were they 184

3 referring tq? Were there any insights, which could be drawn from these stories? How did they relate to them? In an attempt to answer these questions, students' responses to these stories have been given along with a gist of the story concerned. The responses have been given school- wise against each story so that differences in responses across schoo.js, if any, can be observed simultaneously. These stories were given to five children of each class and they were chosen because they were relatively more enthusiastic as compared to other students and they volunteered to read and respond to these stories on time 1 Learning Is Not Enough 2 Delhi Public School Sanchal: "When the third Brahmin said that Subuddhi will go with us even if he has no learning. This teaches that we should be a good friend in life and never break the friendship in any case. Common sense is the most important thing in our life because if we don 't have that we can never progress in our life. The third thing I liked about Subuddhi 's intelligence. Subuddhi knew from before only that this is a./ion and climbed the tree. The other three did not because they didn't had their common sense". (Sic) Manu: "This story tells us about four friends and how the lack of common sense can harm us. The three friends who were learned created a lion but before the one who was not learned climbs a tree. You can guess yourself what happened to the three. The one who climbed the tree was most sensible". 1 There was a practical reason behind this, as some of the children really took a long time to return th.: questionnaires. Or if they did, they left it half -unfulfilled. 2 A. N. D. Haksar, Tales from Panchatantra. (New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1992). This story has been analysed in the previous chapter, therefore, its gist is not given here. 185

4 Anindita: "Acchi lagi kahani. Padhi hui hai pahale. (I liked the story. I have read it before). We learn many thingsfrom this story. We should listen to other people. We should not be busy but take other people's suggestions also". Rohan: "We have to think before learning. We learn so many things in our textbooks and we don't know how they will help us in our daily lives. This is what happened to Subuddhi 's friends who died in the end. So what we need first is common sense (Hal Not our textbooks)". Aseem: This boy had analysed all the stories under four heads- I found the story interesting (Yes or No), I learned a lesson from this story (Yes or No), The story is easy to read (Yes or No) and I liked it because... For this story, he wrote 'yes' in the first three categories and, "It tells us that common sense is more important than learning" in the fourth category. Sadar Patel Vidyalaya Tanvi: This girl had devised a rating scale whereby, * Meant good, **Meant very good and, *** Meant excellent. She gave ** to this story and said, "A fine st01y. More books like this should be made to spread its message. Not for readillg too often. T)pe of time pass. Posters can be made. More like FRANKENSTEIN'. Deeba: "Yah kahani mujhe acc/11 fagi kyon ki is kahani se hamein yah seekh milti hai ki hamein har kaam soch surnajh ke karna chahiye aur aisa koi kaam nahin kama 186

5 chahiyejis se hamaarijaan ko koi nuksaan ho. Gyaan aisi cheez haijiska koi mole nahin hai. (I liked this story because from this story we learn that we should think before doing anything and we should not do any thing, which is harmful for our life. Knowledge is something which can not be compared with anything)". Neha: She also devised a rating scale whereby: ***** Meant great, **** meant very good, *** meant good, ** meant okay, * meant trash and, - - meant sick, gross. For this story she had given ***. She said, "A nice type of tale which shows that common sense is more powerful than knowledge or wisdom. We should always be alert and should use our brains and think again before we take an important step. The characters are interesting and the story good". Tanmoy: "True: common sense is always safer. If those intelligent Brahmins had. common sense the lion might not have killed them. Reasoning may sometimes prove better than learning". Jatin: "Sahi thi (It was fine). Those brahmins made fools and died because they were fools. Subuddhi had common sense. He was like me- no padhai-likhai but still samajhdaar (no studies but still sensible like me). Kendriya Vidyalaya Deepa: "Chautha aadmi accha laga. Buddhimaan tha. Yah aadmi buddhimaan tha. anpadh lekin buddhimaan ( The fourth man was nice. He was intelligent. illiterate but intelligent) ". 187

6 Kush: "Hamein apne doston ke saath miljul ke rahna chahiye. Kutti nahin karni chahiye. Ekta mein zor hai ( We should stay together with our friends. We should not fight with them. There is strength in unity)". Jyoti: "Hamein ghamand nahin karna chahiye (We should not be proud)". friends help)". Manoj: "Sure samay mein accha dost hi kaam aata hoi (In had tin1esonly good intelligence) ". Arpita: "Buddhi ka bura upyog nahin kanza chah(ve ( We should not mis -use our The responses of children to this story are more or less similar in all the schools,, except the fact that children in K V have pointed out more to the personal values that they learn from it. Children have talked about the following lessons that they learn from this story. Value of friendship Importance of common sense and the power of reasoning and its superiority over plain knowledge.. Necessity of thinking before learning/ doing something. Importance of listening to others. Intelligence/ Common sense and its fragile linkage with fonnal education. Ease with which this story was read. 188

7 The Panchata~tra 3 Delhi Public School Sanchal: "Vishnu Sharma was not very famous but still he made king 's sons good boys where as no body even tried to educate those boys. The way of teaching of Vishnu Sharma was ve1y unique. He started from stories and ended with studies". Manu: "The three sons of a king and their teacher who was a scholar Vishu Sharma who tells the princes stories about animals, birds which is now known as Panchatantra. How he teaches them. If only we could be taught like them. Learning with stories. It would be great". Anindita: "Aisa programme TV mein bhi aata hai. Humko bhi lessons ko stories mein convert kar dena chahiye. Baad mein chahen lesson padhayen. Shuru mein story sunana chahiye. Explain karne ke liye story sunani chahiye. Guruji ka method accha tha (This kind of a programme comes on TV also. We should also convert our lessons into story form. Late.' they can teach us lessons. Stories should be told in the beginning. Stories are good to explain. Guruji 's method was good)''. Rohan: "Jo bacche padh nahin sakte unhe stories suna ke padhaya ja sakta hai (Those children H'ho can not study can be taught by telling them stories)". J Manoj Das, Books Forever. (New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1973 ). This story was discussed in the previous chapter and therefore, its summary is not given here. 189

8 Aseem: "The story was interesting, I did not learn a lesson from it, it was easy to read. It tells us how the wise teacher taught the princes by telling them stories". Sardar Patel Vidyalaya Tanvi ** "All of us have to be educated to make our dreams come true. Even if we are sons or daughters of a king we have to study and become literate by ourselves. Our success will be our own and nobody could steal it". Deeba: "Yah kahani mujhe acchi lagi kyon ki isme ek rajah ke baare mein bataaya gaya hai jisko apne beton ki bahut chinta thi aur wah apne beton ko kisi bhi (arah acchi shiksha prapt karwana chahta tha kyo ki shiksha hi ek aisi cheez hai jisse gyan milta hai. M_era yah sujhaav hai ki hum log anpadh logon ko p0;dhayen jisse unke jeevan ko ek naya raasta mil sake (I liked this story because it is about a king who was very worried about his sons and he wanted to give good education to his sons because, education is something from which we gain knowledge. It is my suggestion that we should educate illiterate people so that direction can be given to their lives)". Neha: *** "A great book that makes me wish we were taught the same way.(that would be pretty cool-'! Ha!) Imagine, no textbooks just stories that are exciting and we actually learn from them. I hope that the youngsters of the privilege". century will have the Tanmoy: "Rapt attention is the only way of learning properly. It increases the pmver of understanding. hope etc. and liking something; It always pays to be alert and have a quick thinking brain- the jackal says". 190

9 Jatin: "Wah, kya maze they un rajaon ke bacchon ke. Agar hum bhi raja ke bacche hote to hamein bhi koipyar se padhata (Wow! What fun those king's sons had. {{we were also king 's sons somebody would have taught us with love) ". Kendriya Vidyalaya Deepa: "Mujhe bhi aisa lagta hai ki kahani ke madhyam se bacche aasani se baat samajh sakte /win (I also feel that through the medium of story children can understand things with ease) ". Kush: "Jab woh rajah ke buddhu bacche bhi kahani sun sunkar samajhdaar ho gaye to ho sakta hai ki yadi hamein bhi koi kahani sunave to hamaara bhi bha!a hoga (When that king 's dumb sons can become sensible after listening to those stories then it is possible that if some one tells us stories we also might benefit)". studies)". Jyoti: "Hamein padhai se ji nahin churana chahiye (We should not escape from Manoj: "Wah master bahut smart tha. Waise bhi wah rajah ke bacchon ko bore tareeke se padhata to bacche uski aafat kar dele (That master was smart. Otherwise also if he had taught them in a boring manner those children would have troubled him)". Arpita: "Teacher ko bhi aise tareeke se padhana chal11) e jo bacchon ko aasan lage aur mazedaaer bhi. Waise bhi unhe wahi padhaya jaata tha jo unke kaam aaye" (Teacher should teach in such a manner that children find easy and interesting to. In any case, they were taught what was useful in their lives). 191

10 The responses of children to this story were more or less similar. Most of them appreciated the fact that the king's sons were taught in a manner, which appealed to them and was interesting. They pointed out that knowledge was important but if it were related to their lives, it would be more beneficial. The manner of its communication was also important. Some of them felt that because the characters in the story were king's sons, they were taught with affection and special attention was given to them. They applied this story in their own context and pointed out, that just because they were not from a privileged social background, like the princes in the story, they were being taught in a dull manner. They also felt that 'what' they were being taught at school had little relation with their lives, unlike the princes, who were given an education which was directly relevant to their lives, and was therefore, meaningful. One Magical Morning 4 This story is about a village sarpanch Jishnu who craves for a son. One day, he finds a shining yellow stone on the road. The stone claims he to be God and asks Jishnu' to make a wish. Jishnu immediately expresses his desire and asks for a son. Soon after Jishnu says this, his stomach begins to grow and he realises, that he has become pregnant. At first he is very uncomfortabie and feels awkward and therefore, avoids meeting people. Later however, he begins to understand the problems of pregnant women of his village. He takes all of them for tetanus injections and, also opens a Dai fund in the village. When nine months are over, he is very excited at the prospect of delivering a baby boy but is shocked on hearing that he has given birth to a baby girl. He complains to God about this injustice meted out to him. The God then asks him if he wants to get pregnant again. Jishnu quickly refuses and begins to realise the worth of his daughter. 4 Geetha Dham1arajan, The Best oftamasha! (New Delhi: Katha, Vol. 5, No ). 192

11 Delhi Public School Sanchal: "We know other person 's pal"! only when we realise the pain our self It was interesting and funny to read a man being pregnant. It is foolish to say that a boy is better than a girl is. All children ar,e equaf'. Manu: "This is about a man becoming pregnant (strange, isn't it?). Even though it is strange it has an important message that boys and girls are equal and parents should not favour boys ". Anindita: "This is the best story in the whole lot. I really loved it even if is idiotic and totally untrustfuf'. Rohan: "Padh ke sabse accha laga tha (liked it a lot after reading). I can 't tell you how much. This story is so unbelievable but because it is so funny, I enjoyed it. If unbelievable things look believable if they are funny, can our textbooks which have real stories not be made funny". Aseem: "The story was interesting. It was easy to read. I did not learn anything from it but what!liked about it was that the sarpanch faced the problem pregnant women had and helped them". 193

12 Sardar Patel Vidyalaya Tanvi: Sick! "There should be no more books like this. At least I won't read them. Not actually a true story- a thing that can not happen". Deeba: "Yah kahani mujhe behad pasand aai. Jishnu ke saath theek hi hua. Zyaada hi beta beta kar raha tha. Is kahani se hamein yah siksha milti hai ki hamein ladki aur ladke mein bhed bhaav nahin karna chahiye (I liked this st01y a lot. Served Jishnu right. He was craving too mur:h for a son. We learn from this sto1y that we should not distinguish between a boy and a girl)". Neha: *** "A hilarious and interesting story. Beaut~(ully written telling a peculiar tale of an incident never heard of before. Imagine! A man giving birth to a child!!! Take my advice, rush to a store, grab a copy, sit and enjoy". Tanmoy: "Nothing much from this one. It says that healthy women give birth to healthy children". Jatin: "Very smart! This story tells us that girls are equal to boys. I feel that boys are and will always be better"( Hal Hal). Kendriya Vidyalaya Deepa: "Bahut acchi lagi yah kahani. Is se hamein yah seekh milti hai ki beta ho ya beti. dono ek samman hoten hai (I liked the story a lot. We learnt from this. that a boy and a girl are equal)". 194

13 Kush: "Jishu ne sab ki madad ki thi. Wah accha aadmi tha phir bhi bhagwaan ne uska dream poora nahin kiya. Very bad! (Jishnu helped every body. He was a nice man but still God did not help him) ". Jyoti: "Jishnu ko tabhi aka/ aayi jab wah bhi maa banne waala tha. Usne dusron ki madad ki kyon ki uske bhi baccha hone waala tha (Jishnu came to his senses only when he became pregnant. He helped others only when he was expecting a child)". Manoj: "Is me comedy thi (There was comedy in this story)". Arpita: "Bahut ajeeb thi. Lekin mazaa bhi aaya. Pata nahin jishnu ko aka/ aayi ki nahin ki ladka aur ladki barabar hain (It was very strange. But I also enjoyed it. Wonder whether jishnu realised that girls and boys are equal) ". Most of the children's responses to this story point out to the element of fun/ humour present in it, and how humour can play a significant role in communicating even an unrealistic but sensitive issue. This story is essentially about gender-sensitivity, and even though a few of the students found it absurd, the story did succeed in conveying its point across. Ob! What a Different World 5 This story is about the non -conventional sources of energy. Nutan's friend Asha takes Nutan to her village and shows her around, while telling her about the use of biogas, wind energy and solar energy and the manner in which fans, street lamps operate.s Vibha Kaul, Tamasha! (New Delhi: Katha, Vol.4, No.2, 1993). 195

14 with solar energy, cookers operate with bio gas, which is environment friendly, clean and economical. Basically, the story introduces the non-conventional sources of energy to its readers and explains their utility to them. A lot of factual information is given in this story, those facts are weaved in a story form. Delhi Public School Sanchal: "From this story we learn many things. It seems like a magic that for our daily life we can use mother nature as we use science. Mother nature helps us in many ways to live a better life. We can utilise even waste materials". Manu: "A very interesting story to read. The character Nutan was my best. Tells us many things including development. Nutan was surprised when Asha. her. friend showed her another amazing world and told her about everything". Anindita: "This is a very informative story. It gives us information about new things. vvhich we use in our day to day life. I really wish that our Social Studies book was changed into stories like this". Rohan: "This story teaches us many things. I liked it". Aseem: "The story l vas interesting. I did not learn a lesson from it but I got information. It was easy to read. I liked the idea of nature and waste being put to use". 196

15 Sardar Patel Vidyalaya Tanvi:. * "The little poet1y is veljl sweet. We can all do the things that Asha and her family have been doing. Advertisements and books should be made with interesting titles". Deeba: "Ek kahani ke madhyam se bhi kitna kuch seekha )a sakta hai- yah kahani isi baat ka example hai (Through the medium of story we can learn so much. This story illustrates that)". Neha: *** "A story comparing a modern village and a not quite developed village it brings together a girl's fascination. her actions and her hopes in a most pleasing manner. It also informs us that sadly many of India's people living in villages do not know about the discoveries around them and in the wide. huge earth". Tanmoy: "This story has all the times in it past, the chulha that doesn 't smoke but ours also doesn 't. Nobody does. Present- the windmills. the chulha all are present. Future- yes there's one thing- the 'wonder box'. That is, I think, is the solar cooker. That might be future! We get to know that many things are important that we all waste- 'waste' matter is very useful". Jatin: "Theek thi! Yah to mujhe hhi nahin pata tha ki khaana suraj ki roshni mein bhi ban sakta hai ( The story was okay. I also did not know that food can be prepared with the help of solar energy) ". 197

16 Kendriya Vidyalaya Deepa: "Mujhe yah kahani acchi lagi. Nutan samajh jaati hai ki sura} un gareeb gaon walon ki madad kar raha tha- khaana banane mein. jaanwaron ka gobar ityaadi (I liked this story. Nutan understands that sun was helping those poor villagers in preparing the food- bio-gas etc) ". Kush: "Is tarah ki storybooks hamein vyast rakhti hai. Yah mazedaar bhi hoti hai wa saath hi hamein bahut kuch sikhaati hai (These kind of storybooks keep us busy. They are interesting and also teach us a lot"). Jyoti: "Hamein is kahani se bahut kuchjaankaari milti hai. aisi baa ten jo hamein pata nahin thi (We learn a lot from this stojy, things which we were not aware of)". Manoj: "Agar hamein bhi kahani ke roop mein zaroori jaankari di jaaye to hamein maza bhi aayega, seekhenge bhi aur bore bhi nahin honge (If we are also given important information in the form of stories we will enjoy, learn and not even get bored)". Arpita: "Bahut acchi kahani thi. Kitna kuch seekha lekin kitni aasani se. Yehi baat hamari textbooks mein itne bojhil tareeke se di jaati hai ki hum bore ho jaaten hai (Very nice story. We learnt so much but with so much ease. If the same thing is written in our textbooks it would have been quite dry and boring) ". Children's responses are agam similar as they point out to ihe relevance and importance of using the story medium to communicate facts in an interesting manner. Some of them also said, that if the story medium could be used in their textbooks to explain lessons, they would leam better and enjoy as well. The story -does convey 'facts' 198

17 and children realised and appreciated it. No body said, that because it was informative, it was not enjoyable. [nfact, they compared it with their textbooks and pointed out the utility of using the story fonnat to explain information given in the textbooks. The Sweetness of Salt 6 This story is about a king who is very proud and likes people to praise and flatter him. One day, he gets angry with one of his daughters when she compares her love for him with salt. The king gets offended and throws her out of his palace and marries her off to a beggar. His daughter and her husband struggle har-d for many years, earn alot of money and manage to match the king's status in terms of wealth. Then one day, his daughter decides to invite the king for dinner at her place. She deliberately avoids putting salt in the king's food. The king loses his temper, when he realises1his and shouts at her, after which, the girl reveals her identity to him. The king recognises her, realises his mistake and asks for his forgiveness. Delhi Public School Sanchal: "We should understand the difference between flattery and praise. We can do anything with hard labour. Instead of complaining about our hard luck we should tly to Labour hard to see good days". Manu: "This is about a king. When he knew his daughter loves him like salt he married her to a beggar but after some time they grew so rich that they invited the king, Treasurv of Indian Tales, Book H. (New Delhi: Children's Book Trust, 1969). 199

18 for dinner. The dinner of the king was without salt. Guess 1-vhat happened next. The king apologized for his foolishness. Interesting story!". Anindita: "This is a very different story It tells us that salt is the main ingredient of food and it says that the person who tells the truth may suffer sometime but will win in the end". Rohan: "We learn from this story that gold and precious stones are not important. They have no taste- we can't eat them like salt. Ha! It tells us the value of honesty". Aseem: "It was interesting and easy to read. I did not learn a lesson from this. It tells us that we like salt more than food''. Sardar Patel Vidyalaya Tanvi: * "We learn from this story that you don't have to be rich or wealthy to show what you have. We can test our IQ and show thai all of us don't have the right power to do this so we can help them ". Deeba: "Yah kahani bhi mujhe acchi lagi kyon ki isme bataaya gaya hai ki pita ek aisi cheez hai jiska koi mol nahin hota. Yah hanzaare ltj;e bhagwaan ki tarah hota hai. Pita hamein itna sukh aur pyar dew hai ki jitna hum saabit nahin kar sakte (I liked this story also because we are told that father is something which is priceless. He is like God for us. He gives us so much love and happiness that we can not even prove". Neha: *** "A nice stojy with a moral. It teaches us that hard vvork can get just about get everything. It encourages us and makes us feel that ~{we uy hard enough 200

19 anything is possible. A pleasant story with a few peculiar things. like the sweetness of salt. I still can 't understand the meaning though I have read it over again and again ". Tanmoy: "One should never think too much about oneself and never be self centred. We should not like costly things better than common things. One should never praise oneself always. Love is great with beauty very vast. Love can not be compared to other things. We should not take what something looks like at first sight- the beggar. We can not keep ordering people around'. Jatin: "I also like salty things better than sweets. From this story we learn that proudy person always lose". Kendriya Vidyalaya Deepa: "Hamein jhoothi tareef ke chakkar mein andha nahin hona chahiye (We' should not crave for false flattery)". Kush: "Paise se zyada zaroori pyar hai (Love is more important than money)". Jyoti: "Hamein ghamand nahin karna chahiye (We should not be proud)". Manoj: "Truth wins. Good story". Arpita: "Mahnaz se koi bhi accha kar sakta hai. Yaani agar hum bhi test ke liye pel(/ he ro hum bhi acclw kor sakte hai lekin hamein kahani suna sunakar padhaya jaaye to hamaara bhi man Iagega aur hum kum shaitani karenge (With hard work any body can 201

20 do well. That means if we study for tests we will also do well but if they teach us by telling stories then we will concentrate and we will be less naughty". All children responded in a more or less similar manner, relating the values they drew from this story to their own lives. Futility of sycophancy, false pride, value of hard work, are some of the 'lessons' they said they learnt from this story. Over the years, stories have been considered to be an effective medium to convey positive values to children. For good, or for bad, the fact remains that stories can be used to convey certain 'values' to children in a much more powerful manner, than by simply lecturing them about, what they should and what they should not do. The Mighty Banyan 7 This is an essay on the Banyan tree. It provides interesting and important facts about the Banyan tree and explains its significance in our day-to-day lives. It also, describes the various birds/insects I animals and human beings which depend on it for their survival. Delhi Public School Sanchal: "The Banyan tree is most huge and large tree of all. There are not much banyan trees in the cities. They are found in thick forests in a high amount. The banyan trees need a lot of space to grow because its main trunk is not deeply rooted''. 7 Ruskin Bond, The World oftrees, (New Delhi: National Book Trust. 1975). 202

21 Manu: "A very knoledgeable(sic) story telling us how friendly the banyan is. It gives us shade and other ihings. It is from thefig family and found in India. In the end is also a small poem about it written by George Morris". Anindita: "I used to think it a very bad tree. It kills people at night. There are lots of them in Asiad village. I thought they will kill me and I used to feel quite insecure. It's not like that. It's a very helpful tree, grows all by itself We don't have to plant it again and again. In class III we had a lesson about trees. We could have had this because it includes all the examples... Rohan: "Nobody likes banyan because they occupy a lot of space but one thing they don 't realise is that it gives a lot of shade". Aseem: "It was inter~sting, banyan trees are". easy to read. It tells us how beautiful and useful the Sardar Patel Vidyalaya Tanvi: ** "I enjoyed reading this story though first I thought it is not about any human I animal characters and it will be boring just Like our textbooks but as I started reading it I liked it. I got so much information from it and it came so naturally to me. Can't our textbooks be written like this?... Deeba: "Is kahani se mujhe baht.lf saari jaankari haas if hui jo mujhe pata nahin thi. Banyan tree ke baare mein choti-choti lekin interesting baaten (I got to know a lot of things from this story. Little!itrle things about the banyan tree but interesting facts)". 203

22 Neha: *** "1 like reading Ruskin Bond's stories and even though this is exactly not a story 1 enjoyed it thoroughly. The language is simple and vivid. Even facts which appear dull and boring in textbooks come out alive with Bond's pen. I wish he could also write textbooks for us". Tanmoy: "I never knew banyan tree had so many interesting things about itself There is also information about different birds I insects which live there. I enjoyed the constant references with our lives".. Jatin: "Maza aaya padh ke ki banyan tree ke baare me padh ke bhi maza aayega kabhi socha bhi nahin tha" (Enjoyed reading it. I never realised that reading about banyan tree could be so interesting). Kendriya Vidyalaya Deepa: "Is kahani se hamein dher saari jaankaari milti hai. Manushya kejeevan mein pedh ka ek mahatve purna sthana hai ( We get a lot of information from this story. In man's life trees occupy an important place in a person's life). Kush: "Mujhe yah kahanijis dhang se likhi gayi hai accha laga A.yon kijab ki yah facts sacchi baaton ke baare mein hai phir bhi itne acche dhang se likhe gaye hai (!like the way this st01y has been written because even though these are real facts they have been written very; nicely)". Jyoti: "J N U campus me ek bargad ke pedh hoi ab mai jab bhi 1vahan se pass karoungi mujhe yeh saari baaten dhyaan mein aayingi ( There is a banyan tree in.jnu campus. Now whenever I will pass that tree I will be reminded of all these things)

23 Manoj: "Kahani mein agar tas'veeren ho to pad/me ka aur hi maza hota hai. Agar kisi ne bargad ka pedh dekha ho lekin uska naam na pata ho to tasveer dekh kar yaad aa jaayega (If there are pictures in stories then it is even better. If somebody has seen a banyan tree but doesn 't know its name then after seeing the pictures given in the story, he will know the name) ". Arpita: "Is kahani metn bahut information hai. Kai bacche jo padhai mem interested nahin hai unhe stories suna kar pad}wya ja sakta hai. Unhe knowledge bhi. ~. milegi, fun bhi aur wah khushi- khushi exams denge. ( This st01y has a lot of information. There are lots of children who are not interested in studies. If they are taught through stories they will get knowledge, have fun and will even take exams happily)". This story like the pervious one, is essentially weaved around facts about the Banyan tree. Children enjoyed reading it and found it easy and interesting. They read the story with an alert mind and that is why they were able to relate it with their environment, dispelling myths they had heard about it earlier. They found the language simple, vivid, lucid and interesting. A few of them also pointed out that if their textbooks were written in a similar manner, they would leam much more fmm them. The Unspoilt Man of the Jungle 8 This essay is about people who live in the wild areas. The author recounts his experiences with some of them and draws a comparison between them and the townsfolk. He also tries to clear the misconceptions which townsfolk have about these people and shows that jungle people are infact better than the townsfolk, in tem1s of simplicity, generosity and honesty and are quite adept and comfortabl-e at living with the nature. 8 Jit Roy, Wild Woodnotes, (New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1982 ). 205

24 Delhi Public School Sanchal: "In comparison with townsmen the jungle folk are more helpful, honest and self reliant. They are closer to nature than civilised man. If the world is destroyed by any natural calamity they will have more chances of survival than townsmen". Manu: "It tells us how people live in nature's lap and how kind and friendly they are, infact they are better than us ". Anindita: "/ usually thought that jungle men are not so smart. I used to tell my maid that 'tumhe padhna bhi nahin aata hai ' (You don 't even know how to read and write). But now l realise that jungle men are better. They know their own tricks in the nature-rope making which we don't even know. We know only how to read and write". Rohan: "People who are in the jungle are better than us". Aseem: "I found the story interesting. easy to read. It tells us that jungle folk are calm and hospitable". Sardar Patel Vidyalaya Tanvi: ** "It is a lovely story. We learn from this st01y that there are people who are much better and much smarter than us. lt was nice to read about jungle people and know what all they know and what all they are capable of doing _ 206

25 Deeba: "Is kahani se hamein yah shiksha milti hai kijungle mein ral111e vvaale log shahar mein rahne waale logon se kai maayne mein bahtar hoten hai. Hamein to sitf likhna padhna hi aata hai lekin un bacchon ki tarah zaroori cheezen nahin banani aati hai (We learn from this story that people who live in the jungle are much better than people who live in the cities. We know only how to read and write but those children know how to make so many important things)". Neha*** "It was a very good story. It compares the jungle folk with the townsfolk and shows how the jungle folk are far superior in terms of their character and knowledge. If they come to know how we function in the cities, I am sure they will hate us ) ". Tanmoy: "True: the jungle folk are more knowledgeable and simple. Just because we live in cities and know how to read and write we think we are very smart. We don't even know what is happening in the world around us. The story teaches us that there are people and there is life beyond S P VI Home /Delhi..." Jatin: "Sahi hai. Jungle ke log hum logon se kai acche hoten hai. Unhe kintna kuch aata hai jo hamein bilkul nahin aata" (Absolutely right. Those people are better than us. They know so much more than us) ". Kendriya Vidyalaya Deepa: "Is kahani me in jungle mein rahne waale logon ke baare me in baalava hal jo dayalu aur acche hoten hai hamaari tarah nahin (This story tells us about jungle people who are kind and nice, not like us) ". 207

26 Kush: "Sab log ek samaan hoten hai. Jungle mein rahne waale log hum se kisi bhi tarah kum nahin hai balki zyada acche hai (All people are equal. People who live in the jungle are not lesser than. us infact they are even better)". Jyoti: "We learn a lot from this story- new things". Manoj: "Agar hamein Social Studies ki kitaab bhi is mazedaar dhang se kahaani kissey sunatey hue likhi hoti to shayad hum bahut seekhtey aur bore bhi nahin hoten (If we were taught social studies in such an interesting way by telling us interesting stories and anecdotes we would hp_ve learnt better and not get bored) ". people". Arpita: "Nice story. We learn new things. They know so much. They are so nice The striking factor in children's responses is again the fact that while reading a story and commenting about it, they relate it with their own lives. They respond to it actively, seeing them as important ways of learning. The lessons drawn could be either in terms of certain facts, or moral values or something which triggers off their thought process, but the fact remains that they do respond to them with a ldt of thinking and feeling and perceive them as important sources of learning. After discussing children's responses to these stories, one is perhaps in a better position to comment on how they children relate and respond to storybooks. Children themselves have already pointed out the pedagogic relevance of these stories. They have pointed out, specific gains not only in tern1s of knowledge they acquire from them, values they learn from them, but the manner in which they relate these stories with their existing knowledge base and personal experiences.these stories make them think, make them anxious, make them curious, make them happy and some of them even make them 208

27 angry. It is not a mechanical reception of these stories but an alive and interesting communication process. Communication, not in the strict sense of the word, but in terms of not only passively accepting what is written in them but responding to them with feeling, with emotion and with thinking. Learning is taking place from. these stories but a kind of learning, which is not restricted to receiving infonnation and memorising it and regurgitating it for the purpose of exams. It is a kind of learning, where both heart and mind are actively involved. Stories develop children's faculties, not only cognitive but affective as well as is evident from their own responses and observations. Stories make them curious, make them think and develop their imagination. The very fact that these stories make them think and relate them with their lives, their experiences, their world, points out to their pedagogic relevance as they lead to the development of their thinking, learning and intuitive power. The next section discusses the responses of children, their parents and teachers as well to storybooks as an alternative pedagogic tool as against textbooks, which they read' in school. Reflections on the pedagogic relevance of storybooks vis- a- vis the textbooks How do the major participants in the education process i.e. children, parents and teachers feel about the pedagogic relevance of storybooks when compared with textbooks? Up till now, the pedagogic potential of storybooks per se has been discussed. This section however, explores the pedagogic relevance of storybooks as opposed to textbooks. It is important to understand the perceptions and views of the central actors/participants in the education process and that is the aim of the next section. 209

28 Delhi Public School Insights from children Table 1 Do You Think That Storybooks Can Replace Textbooks Responses Number Positive 25 (60.98%) Relatively Positive 03 ( 7.32%) Ambiguous 02 (29.27%) Negative 01 ( 2.44%) Total 41 These categories have evolved from children's responses. Positive: This category includes responses which gave a categoricallyand definite positive answer. Like, "I would feel great because through stories also we learn in a' more relaxed way", "I would be very happy", "It will make me very glad", "I wou~d read one or two stories everyday at my pace. "I would feel really great because they are much more interesting. "It will be very nice as there will be less tension", "I would love that",."i would be so excited", "I would feel very good and the teacher would teach us only stories and we would not have to read those boring textbooks. "Brilliant!, because they are studies of knowledge". "It will make the children attentive in it", "Just fun and only fun, Yahoo!", "It ~vould be the happiest thing for 1ne and. "We would be learning about new things and places but will not feel that we are studying so it will be a good thing". Relatively positive: This had comparative responses, t.e. 111 companson with textbooks storybooks were perceived to be a better option but they pointed out that storybooks were not the perfect or complete solution. Like they said, "They will be better 210

29 than the textbooks at Least but not best because we can 't learn everything that we need to learn from them". "Anything would be better than those boring textbooks be it activities or stories /;!ut for our complete education, they will have to have much more than they have now". Ambiguous: This had ambiguous responses like, "I would feel funny" or ''It will be weird as we are not used to it", "It will be okay, I guess but I am not sure", "It would be nice to have storybooks but we will not Learn much from them alone ", "I would feel excited but bored after sometime", "They could not be much different as I like both storybooks and textbooks", "That will not be right but then I feel that textbooks should be banned", "Not so good as in textbooks, lessons are chosen and they give better moral compared to storybooks". One student suggested that, "The same lessons can be changed in storyform by adding some general knowledge in them so that the student can enjoy it". Negative: These include negative responses to the question posed. Like, "Thor will not be correct. For education textbooks are important. Parents' suggestions Table 2 Do You Think That Storybooks Can Replace Textbooks Responses Number Positive 20 ( 50%) Negative 09 ( 22.5%) Mixed /Partial 11 ( 27.5%) Total

30 Half the parent population (i.e. those who responded) responded positively to this question. "This is a better option and definitely worth a try", "It is probably quite difficult to do so but if the same can be achieved, it would be much more interesting to go through such an education process", "A lot of first hand experience also will have to be given along with them", "Children are always fascinated by colowful pictures and illustrations", "Children would be definitely more interested and pay more attention", "! think it will be a wonderful idea as children at the primary level are small and would pay more attention if a chapter was taught in a stmy form with lots of colourful pictures". A few parents ruled out this proposition. Some of them gave reasons like, "No, because children take storybooks very lightly", "Storybooks are important but certainly can not replace textbooks", 'They can't, given the present curricular requirements but then the curriculum itself is archaic and without goals" or, "!have yet to come across a book which can actually substitute a textbook", "No, st01ybooks can never replace textbooks, but teaching can be more interesting". Some parents felt that having only storybooks was not feasible but perhaps can be used for some subjects or they can be used as supplementary books as reference material. Or they pointed out that, "Some amount of textbook is also essential'". "At the primary level, storybooks should also be used". "More than the books how they are taught is more important" or that. "Textbooks disguised as st01ybooks can perhaps be used", "Only in subjects like English. Hindi and French. storybooks can be used". "To some extent yes but it is not just storybooks, it is the kind of teaching which a child gets in school". 212

31 Teachers' voices The English and Hindi subject teachers felt that teaching from storybooks certainly was be a better idea. While the English teacher completely agreed with it, the Hindi teacher expressed reservations about their complete replaceability. The Science teacher remarked, "Storybooks to replace textbooks is a very big jump. It is more pertinent to language teachers". Social Studies teacher expressed a similar opinion, "The language teachers are perhaps more adept at using stories. To some extent, they can play an important role but not totally". She did not see their applicability in Science. The Maths teacher did not fill up the questionnaire. From her style of teaching and attitude in class towards children as has been discussed earlier, one can perhaps say that' she would completely reject this option. Sardar Patel Vidyalaya Insights from children Table 3 Do You Think That Storybooks Can Replace Textbooks Responses Number Positive 24 ( %) Relatively Positive 01( 2.56%) Ambiguous 09 (23.08%) Negative 05 ( ;o) Total

32 The positive responses were, "I would feel great \ happy \excited \nice", "It would be like a dream ", "I would be so interested that I \ vould miss games and other activities". "I would be pleased provided they are nice", "Great! What an idea!", "Great! Besides, storybooks do teach us a lot", "It would be jim, nobody would go for games", "Love~y! ", "On top of the world.'" Relatively positive: "I get bored in school but with storybooks at least I will feel better than now '. Ambiguous: "I don't know! I would like to read both storybooks and textbooks I guess", "I would feel strange as! am used to textbooks", "I would feel a bit different", "I will be happy to some extent, unhappy to some extent", "Sometimes happy, sometimes sad as I increase my knowledge from textbooks". "/ 1vould feel good but feel that something about school is left out", "For a change, it is a great idea, At first, I will be excited. Later, I will be bored of storybooks too", "For sometimes. I would feel relaxed but I would be needing textbooks because you always seem to want what you don't have so let us suffer by textbooks", "If in textbooks, lessons are given like stories then we would like them much better". Negative: "I would like to have textbooks in school and not storybooks", "I would feel sad as we should use correct books in correct times". "No. I like reference books, not storybooks ". 214

33 Parents' suggestions Table 4 Do You Think That Storybooks Can Replace Textbooks Responses Number Positive 11 ( 30.56%) Negative 18 ( 30%) Mixed /Partial 07 ( 19.44%) Total 36 An almost equal number of parents reacted positively and negatively to this alternative posed before them. The positive,reasons given by them were, "Yes.. they can encourage imagination and creativity right from the beginning", "It is a good idea if one can get proper books", "Yes, but too much of moralising does not sen;e any purpose" (This person obviously equates storybooks with mora/ising), "It is possible. Lot has to be worked on this" and, "It will make the subject interesting". The reasons for responding against this were, "No, it is not that simple". "We don't have proper teachers to do this", "No. at a younger age a child grasps more easily and our textbooks are just fine for that purpose", "No, basic scientific and mathematical concepts cannot be taughi as stories, difficult to see how this will be achieved... Some of them felt that, "They can perhaps be used as supplements. In some subjects they can substitute textbooks but what about Maths. it requires a lot of practice... ''Textbooks can be made interesting by having lessons in st01y form.. and. "To son1e extent, it is possible, not fully but helps as a supportive method". Teachers' voices Both the English and Hindi subject teacher's felt that textbooks can not replace but act as supplements to textbooks. "Children stay engrossed and more receptive to 215

34 information if conveyed in an interesting manner, but textbooks have their own place", remarked the English teacher. The Maths and Science teachers were of the similar view that storybooks make more sense in language subjects than either, science or maths. The Social Science teacher did not return the questionnaire. The pattern of the responses of S P V was similar to that of the D P S teachers. Kendriya Vidyalaya Insights from children Table 5 Do You Think That Storybooks C~n Replace Textbooks Responses Number Positive 28 (87.50) Negative 02 (6.25%) Ambiguous 02 (6.25%) Total 32 A large majority of the children felt that having storybooks in place of textbooks was a good idea but responses of these children were mostly in monosyllables and related to the 'feeling' dimension like, "/would feel good I great I nice. "!could read them from morning to evening" or, "Textbooks are better". "Storybooks will not help, studying helps", "Both are okay" and, "/would want hath". 216

35 Parents' suggestions Table 6 Do You Think Storybooks Can Replace Textbooks Responses Positive Negative Mixed /Partial Total Number 16 (50%) 13 (40.63%) 03 ( 9.37%) 32 Among the positive responses were: "They put pressure in exams. Storybooks is a better option", "Yes, because children are more interested in stories. Through them it is easier to teach them and easier to grasp for them ", "Story creates interest in the child to read and thereby s\he learns better", "Yes. any difficult thing can be understood and remembered through this medium. Lot can be done in all subjects". The reasons for responding negatively were: "Textbooks and storybooks have different positions. Storybooks should be read at home", "No. by reading storybooks. their attention gets diverted", "No, textbooks are important". One parent even retorted. "Are you mad? The children should not even hear this otherwise what will they study". Partial: "Perhaps, storybooks can be used as supplements". "The form of textbooks can be changed" and, "Only in the primary level and for fevv subjects stories can be used". In dissonance with their children's responses, around 50% of the parents felt that storybooks were a good option but a substantial number also felt that this was not feasible. 217

36 Teachers' voices The teacher who teaches both English and Hindi subjects pointed out, "The background of students studying here is so poor that it is not feasible to have storybooks as they hardly read them on their own. In fact, they can not read them on their own, especially English. The book 'Read for Pleasure which is meant to be read by them on their own initiative, is read like a textbook in class". Another teacher who teaches Maths, Science and Social Studies reacted by saying that, "Storybooks are fine for moral values and entertainment but in an age of computers there is no way that storybooks can fit in with the curriculum ". The Sanskrit teacher felt that "The story medium is undoubtedly very effective but till grade two only, medium". as children observe and understand much more through this Whereas in D P S and S P V, only the language subject teachers perceived storybooks as an effective pedagogic tool, teachers in K V ruled it out for language subjects as well because children according to them, did not have the initiative to read storybooks on their own. This was especially true of the English language. 218

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