Author and Chairperson of Infosys Foundation, Sudha Murthy feels that the virtual classes being held by schools owing to the pandemic need an overhaul in order to make them more interesting, and children more receptive.
“What we are witnessing right now is just a ‘translation’ of a physical classroom into a virtual one, something which is not working at all. We need to improvise and use our imagination to ensure that children receive what is being taught and do not get bored,” she tells IANS.
Adding that in order to ascertain that, a committee comprising child psychologists, education experts and sociologists needs to come together to devise a teaching methodology, Murthy, recipient of the Padma Shri honour asserts, “Let us also not forget that just like adults, children are under tremendous pressure in these trying times. Schools are not just about academics but also socialisation — meeting friends and playing. Sitting at home is affecting them adversely.”
The author, whose upcoming title on Audible ‘Grandma’s Bag of Stories’ says that the book was conceived keeping in mind the current Covid crisis. “I imagined myself to be 10-12 years old and what would I have done during these times. While my grandparents would have told me many tales, they would have ensured that this period was not just about lying around, playing and listening to stories. I am sure they would have made me work. The second part is that people are getting bored. Agreed, this is a depressing period, but this does not mean that the child does not need to do anything. There is enormous time which can be utilized in reading and helping around the house,” says the author who has also acted in the Marathi film Pitruroon and the Kannada film Prarthana.
Talk to her about audio books, including the one from Audible, and Murthy smiles that she belongs to a generation that enjoys holding a physical copy of the book and reading, but considering the changing times, such platforms may introduce children to the magical world of stories.
For someone who has always stressed on the need to include soft skills and creative classes in schools, Murthy laments that most educational institutes are just focussing on grades and ranks. She also feels that parental pressure on children to aim for courses which they (parents) could not take up, stunts the overall growth of young minds.
“It is nice if children are hard working, and get a great rank. But remember, that is not the only condition to succeed in life. What makes a person truly successful is an enormous amount of patience and adjustment. It is also about how good a team player he/she is. Those who draft the syllabus need to understand the importance of creative classes and soft skills where the real potential of children can emerge. And parents must stop wanting to complete their dreams through children,” she says.
Ask her how she manages to do so much — looking after the foundation, social work and writing consistently, and Murthy says, “I have a supportive family. Also, I focus on my work and nothing else — be it writing or the foundation work. You will seldom see me wasting time. For me it is only about work, and that is it. Frankly, that keeps me extremely happy too.”
This first woman engineer with TELCO also feels that while things have changed tremendously for the educated women in urban centres, much more needs to be done for those residing in the countryside. “From education, change in mindset to employment opportunities, rural areas need much attention so as to ensure that women from there can be in the mainstream,” says the author whose next children’s book (mythology) will be published by Penguin in November.