Do you think schools sometimes take themselves too seriously? Are you perturbed to see children in some societies being pressured to succeed at an early age? How would you like to see the school system change? What are your views on play based learning?
These were the sorts of questions that came up in my discussion with Sachin, one of the interesting people I met in Pune. Sachin is the taxi driver who met me at Mumbai airport and drove me to and from Pune. It’s a three and a half hour drive each way so we had plenty of time to chat. We talked about India and Australia, about music, films, cooking and families… and, surprisingly, about education.
Sachin has a 6 year old daughter and the educational system worries him. He’s pleased that his child attends a good English medium school, but worries about the development of her mother tongue, Marathi. Without any prompting from me, he shared his concerns about the pressure to get high marks in Indian schools and talked about the importance of play in childhood. He hates seeing his daughter lugging a heavy bag of books and doing homework at an age when he feels she should be playing. He’s convinced that learning takes place through play. He shared that he’d seen a CD of learning through songs and poems and wondered why school learning (in his context) couldn’t be more fun and engaging. I asked him if he knew that teachers around the world think about many of the same issues that he does. He responded that it’s just common sense...
It was late at night when we drove through Bombay and we took a few wrong turns on the frantic roads. Noisy trucks, cars and auto rickshaws were everywhere, weaving in and out, horns honking continuously. Sachin stopped several times to confirm that we were heading the right way. Sometimes getting back on track involved reversing on one-way roads and unnerving u-turns, but there is a system to the way the drivers maneuver in the chaos and miraculously there were no collisions. Once in a while he would ask with a grin if I was worried yet.
Dropping me at the airport, he invited me to visit his home next time I come. I look forward to it.
(5th in a series of reflections on my recent visit to Pune)