The canvas of culture

What is culture? Does it come from what we believe in or does it depend on how we act? We learn about culture in different ways – from people, from our homes and from those living around us. And importantly we learn about it from our school. This issue gives us a brief insight into what culture is all about and how the learning spaces in schools can effectively give children an introduction into the kind of society that they are part of.

Feeling good about being you

Pawan Kumar Gupta
An important objective of education is to make the student feel confident and good about herself. But in reality, this may not be the case as the system is focused on comparison. Both parents and the school unconsciously encourage comparison and evaluation of a student which takes a toll on the student’s self- confidence. Therefore the author argues that it is important to build an environment that does not encourage comparison or competitiveness of any kind if the child or the student has to feel good about being herself.

Stepping out of the manic machine

Rahee Dahake
How can a school environment nurture in the students a sense of aesthetics and appreciation of beauty in all its forms? Schools can be happy and caring communities that recognize the importance of expressing emotions and learning through feelings. Through exposure to art, films, literature, music and performing arts which are normally not part of the curriculum, children have access to a rich world which can become part of their lives and help them gain an understanding of varied multisensory learning.

Who is being taught what?

Rohit Kumar
How can a school create its own culture? Culture can be built beginning from the students themselves. When they walk into school, they bring in their lives, their stories, their customs, beliefs, hopes and aspirations. Therefore a school should be able to absorb all the different cultures that students bring, in short, a school cannot refrain from engaging with multicultural beings. It has to be a collective growth— of teachers, students, principals, helpers, and everyone else from the school community.

A bridge between home and school

Jane Sahi
How can the school, home and community converge to create a third space to help children’s literacy learning? Schools need not be the only domain for children to learn literacy. Each and every home is characterised by its memories, stories, languages and cultural resources which can enrich a child’s literacy learning at school. This article gives several suggestions on how a third space can be created where re-contextualisation can happen and literacy practices at home and school can merge.

The library: a place of being and becoming

Usha Mukunda
How can a library space in a school bring about a culture of freedom and enquiry? Can a school library sow the seed of thinking differently and nurture young people to grow into strong individuals? The author points out various ways in which a library can be used to effectively bring home the idea of what culture is all about — it can be an inclusive or diverse space, it can create room for conversation and dialogue, or even a collaborative and compassionate space with no bias and dogma. Read on to find out more.

Opening hearts and minds: Fostering a culture of acceptance

Aruna Sankaranarayanan
Diversity is practically synonymous with India. From the towering Himalayas to coastal Kanyakumari. From the arid deserts of Rajasthan to the lush greenery of the Sunderbans, India houses an array of geographical features that form the context for the range of our cultures.

Words and the worlds they make

Anjana Nayar
Melania Trump recently made a gift of some treasured children’s books – a set of 10 classic Dr. Suess books – to various schools across America. The First Lady of the United States, making the gift on the occasion of US National Read-a-Book Day, has said she constantly reads the Dr Suess books with her son.

Sharing the lives of children

B. Ramdas and Rama Sastry
Every classroom, every school, whether we like to admit it or not, reflects, in effect, a microcosm of the society we will have. Teachers and school administrators always forget this. Our schools have become such disjointed arms of society that school administrators feel that their roles are different from what the child has to do when she steps out of school.

Listening to the other

Thejaswi Shivanand
Selvi is a nine-year-old attending a middle school in a town in south India. She has been the target of attention from some of her classmates ever since she joined this school late last year, and this attention has resulted in her being bullied and excluded from her peer group.