Television to the rescue

[ Nabanita Deshmukh ]

“Joyful learning is such an important aspect of education, but why isn’t it happening these days?” asked a young teacher during online training.

She looked puzzled and unhappy, and I wholeheartedly sympathized with her. In fact, a large number of parents, guardians and instructors have got this very same question on their lips when it comes to ‘studying’ during the pandemic, whether it is a story or a lesson from a textbook.

Joyful learning does not happen for many reasons. It is partly because of ignorance and the unavailability of appropriate reading resources, materials and volunteers. It is also due to the absence or neglect of libraries, the lack of good reading materials at home, and online distractions such as movies, besides games and addiction to social media.

How to get back our children’s focus on learning is the need of the hour, especially at a time when schools are shut for an indefinite period of time. Also, in many areas of Arunachal, online classes cannot take place due to erratic internet connections. So what’s the solution?

Television programmes telecast by the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) way back in the 1970s and the Educational Multimedia Research Centre (EMRC) of the 1980s had done a great job. Why not use the TV once again when conditions in many parts of Arunachal are similar due to lack of internet access? The ‘idiot box’ would no more be an idiot if quality programmes on joyful learning could be aired, starting from interactive textbook lessons to the use of stories, skits and songs. These modes would surely convert reluctant students into enthusiastic readers.

Besides, television is a safer medium of instruction than the mobile phone because parents can clearly monitor the ‘screen time’ and most importantly, learning could become a happy family affair.

Keeping television in mind, a list of websites and sample educational materials created by teachers have been prepared that could promote joyful learning among viewers.

Textbook lessons

The duty of every teacher is to make textbook lessons interesting for students; but how to do so during school lockdowns? Fortunately, there are internet sites that have interactive NCERT textbook lessons, and surely the government could use them for television programmes. This will not only ensure the continuation of classes but would make children eager learners as well: https://allenglishresources. wordpress.com/ncert-sakshat-and-web-audio-resources-for-english/.

Rhymes and songs

Rhymes and songs are particularly important for learning a new language because many students are shy to communicate with their teachers. Simple poems and songs give young learners a better way to express themselves, which is less threatening than prose. Besides, verses and songs are easy to memorize and take away the stress of correct pronunciation and language structure. Children love to read/recite rhymes and sing songs because of alliterations, repetitions, rhymes and rhythm. The following site, among others, could help the education department choose songs and rhymes for television: https://www.dreamenglish.com/.

Stories

Young students cannot analyze language like adults do but imbibe it naturally from the surroundings they live in. In fact, children make sense of their world through stories, so why not use them to teach a new language? Teachers could read out a variety of stories, ranging from folktales to fables, and offer children a whole new world of heroism, humour, culture and adventure. Below is a list of interesting sites for free download of stories that could very well be shown on television as education programmes. https://stories.audible.com/start-listen,

https://storyweaver.org.in/,

https://bookbox.com/, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djtD9I8rLuE.

Skits

Children love short plays that are humorous, musical and based on themes that they can relate to. Using skits to teach a language is always a good idea because they improve: Reading and communication skills in students; creativity and memory; voice modulation; facial expressions and movements.

Confidence levels

Here’s an interesting website to choose skits for students from: http://www.skits-o-mania.com/SkitsForKids.html.

Tele-learning

The Covid-19 lockdown has brought about many changes in our society, and education has been deeply impacted. Online teaching/learning is the only available option now and could very well become the option of the future. But despair not. There is a way. By choosing and creating exciting learning resources, literacy levels of students would surely improve. Furthermore, television has become ‘a household member’ in many internet-deprived areas. So, why not use it creatively to offer kids a whole new world of learning? (Nabanita Deshmukh is a teacher, educator and writer of children’s stories and poems. She has also been an active resource person for the Lohit Youth Library Network’s reading initiatives. Email: [email protected])