On a sunny morning the 28 March teachers Shantilal and Prakash took students of standard 4 and 6 on an educational exposure trip, while students in other classes peeped through their windows in envy – learning under the deep blue sky and open fields is always an alluring prospect. Fortunately these other children needn’t be envious for long – every class in Hunar Ghar goes on a exposure trip every month. It is striking how quickly a child’s engagement with the syllabus changes when they know they are going on a exposure trip – an effect we appreciate: making memorable experiences where the children are engrossed in the lesson and learning.
Standard 6 livelihood options and community interviews
Prakash based standard 6′s exposure trip on the syllabus chapter ‘Grameen Kshetra Mein Ajeevika Ke Sandhan’ – The search of livelihood in villages, part of the social science course. Students were divided into two groups and each group given an activity sheet. The activity sheets had questions on they could only answer by interviewing community members. In this way not only do children learn about livelihood – the topic of the chapter – they also learn to pose questions, listen to answers, speak confidently and correctly with other community members and understand that a lot of knowledge already exists in the community – you just need to know how to find it. This is the principal of exposure trips at Hunar Ghar – making learning about the processes that go into learning, not just about the knowledge. It’s a massive benefit of Hunar Ghar – the opportunity for learning to be about exploring the world.
Prakash (far left) and standard 6 students on their way to interview community members
While group A headed to Ujmaramji’s house, group B visited Babiaramji’s house. At Ujmaramji’s house three of our girl students, Sangeeta, Sibi and Bhabna took the first initiative and worked as icebreakers. They started a discussion with Ujmaramji’s daughter Rani and soon afterwards his son Nabin joined them answered almost all our student’s queries.
“Students should know in detail about growing crops. It is good they have come to learn about this from farmers” -Nabin Kumar Bumbaria – a Bakhel farmer
Their discussion concentrated two main topics: The first was the different need-based preparation of farmland for growing different crops like maize, lentils and wheat, the second was alternative local livelihood options. Nabin was a great resource person, he knew about growing almost all types of crops possible in this land. At Babiaramji’s house group B had a serious discussion with him on the migration of villagers to Palanpur, Udaipur and Abu Road as part time labourers.
Babiaramji himself is himself a farmer and a master storage of local farming proverbs, such as how to know when the maize is ready for harvesting: “Shola Patti aati hay to pak jaati hay Makki” (Corn is ready to harvest when 16 leafs come out of it). Prakash’s enthusiasm is reflected in his students too when Ruma Ram and Vikram of kept asking for some more such proverbs from Babiaramji. Prakash seemed to be very happy with his curious students and decided to plan his class’s next exposure visit to be full of more surprises.
Standard 4 maths and rivers
Shantilal and standard 4 went to Bakhel’s seasonal river Sei, almost one kilometer from Hunar Ghar. The topic for their exposure trip was ‘Khet aur Bnarr’ – Farmland and it’s fence, from mathematics and the chapter was on measurement of rectangular and square shaped farmlands.
When our students reached the river bank they first learned about the Ratanjot tree which is used as fencing to prevent grazing animals from eating the crops, and Shantilal taught them about its multiple usage from preventing soil erosion to production of engine oil from its seeds – another reason people use it for fencing.
Standard 4 learn about tree uses down by the river
After this the students moved to Shantilal’s own farmland closer to Hunar Ghar, measuring its length and width and calculating its area.
Doing maths in Shantilal’s field
As Shantilal tell shares, “Students are happy to learn from practical experiences because they remember their learning easily and they are excited to learn underneath the open sky”. And that’s exactly why our children are taken on exposure trips every month; to leave the blackboard and chalk behind and learn in the real situations where their own experience is the centre of learning.