Malavika Kapur’s Learning from children what to teach them is based on her interactions with teachers, politicians and the general public. She has gathered together a great deal of information about the quality of government schools for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. She has analysed the policies, programmes and commitments made by governments during the past five decades vis-a-vis ground realities.
As the title aptly suggests Malavika Kapur is convinced and in turn convinces the reader about the “child teaching the teacher” theory. She has clarified that the approach, which has so far always been unidirectional, need not necessarily be so. The teacher has to be a catalyst to facilitate learning and children are their own sources of creativity.
Kapur has presented the book in two parts. In the first part, she talks about promoting the psycho-social development of children with a focus on cognitive stimulation. In 2002–2003, projects were carried out in 19 schools and involved 1200 children from Classes I to X in Mysore district in Karnataka. The author spent a considerable amount of time observing tribal children in this region and analysed how cultural backgrounds influence the learning abilities of a child.
The second part of Learning from Children has relevant and useful suggestions which a teacher can use in her day-to-day teaching. Kapur lists both her own original ideas as well as older ideas that teachers may have known but have forgotten. The book, therefore, helps refresh the teacher’s memory.
If a review such as Kapur’s were done by all concerned and the necessary steps taken, it would certainly have a very rewarding impact on setting up a uniform value-based education system in the country. The book makes for quick reading and I would suggest it as a necessary inclusion in the reference section of every school library.
The reviewer is Principal, Vidhyanjali School, Hyderabad. She can be reached at [email protected].