By Nanditha Ravindar
I was just reading a chapter in “Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman” in which the Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist Richard Feynman talks about how Science in Brazil was not taught in a practical way – the curriculum was not drafted in a way that the students could actually apply the content in their textbooks to their real lives and learn from the same.
It got me thinking about the flaws in our own education system as well. It’s one of my favorite things to rant about, as someone who is deeply passionate about the state of education (or the lack of it thereof) in our country.
I rarely heard inspiring stories of women in my history classes. I don’t remember watching many movies with strong female characters and neither do I remember any story discussing gender roles in simple language that would be suitable for kids.
When I was a teacher, I came across primary school students teasing their classmates for being dark complexioned. There were others who would repeat stereotypical statements about gender roles which they had heard in some sleazy Tamil movie or come across in some soap that they, or their parents, watched. It shocked me initially, to see how media and other influences manage to twist young minds in such a way that patriarchal, misogynist and just plain evil thoughts formulate in them.
All of these experiences further strengthened my belief that we should “catch them young” and also proved that there is a lot that we can do with stories. Words are after all powerful, and what is the point of using language if it is not to empower or break stereotypes or merely to churn out kind, humane people?
Stories have a lot of impact on kids and it is crucial that we teach people to be kind, non-judgmental and inclusive at a young age since it is during the formative years that most of their values, ideals and world views get formed. Given the current political climate (almost all around the world), building such a community of inclusive, kind, broad-minded people is definitely the need of the hour.
About Nanditha: Nanditha has a Masters in Communication. After a Bachelors in Commerce from Stella Maris College, she worked with Google India before she took to volunteering and teaching primary school students in Chennai for a while. During the course of her Masters, she developed an interest in research as well as development communication. She loves critiquing movies, discussing Raghuram Rajan or good pieces of journalistic writing and watching culinary shows, apart from reading books when she does find time for them. She is part of the Editorial team at Tale Weavers.