Creating Solidarity Across Diverse Communities

Creating Solidarity Across Diverse Communities

Creating Solidarity Across Diverse Communities

Creating Solidarity Across Diverse Communities:

International perspectives in education 

Edited By Christine E. Sleeter, Encarnación Soriano.

Other Authors:  Sleeter, Christine E., 1948-, Soriano, Encarna.
Format:  BooksBook
Language:  English
Published:  New York : Teachers College Press, 2012
Subjects:  Multicultural education>Cross-cultural studies.
Community and school>Cross-cultural studies.

Whether   Educators are   working with student populations perceived as diverse or

Homogenous,Creating Solidarity across Diverse Communities provides profound insights into strategies for building consensus, efficacy, and   reducing prejudicesand conflicts. This is a well- researched volume oncomplex theories and   diverse practices for building solidarity to effect educational change.”Merry M Merrifield, School of Teaching and Learning, the Ohio State University

 

 In this unique and timely volume, experts from around the globe   come together to examine hat solidarity in multicultural societies means andhow it might   be built. With a variety of analytical perspectives and findings , the authors present original  research conducted in the United States, New Zealand, Spain, France,Chile, Mexico and India. Educators  will organise similarities between the issues raised by the authors with those they face in their own places of work, helping  them to better understand conflicts about diversities and take steps toward building solidarity in their own schools and communities. Demonstrating the communities   they serve, this book offers avenues for bringing diverse understanding together to bridge antagonism and fear.

 

South Asian   communities are diverse in terms of language, religion, castes and gender. Here multiculturalism is a resource tobuild upsolidarity among the diverse communities. This has been proven in India where multilingualism and multiculturalism is considered to be the strength to fight the monolingual and mono cultural hegemony. But schools as the agency of monolingual and mono-cultural curriculum   disconnectthe strengthof multiculturalism.

 

 This  book contains   a paper from India  entitled Building Solidarity between the  Tribal Community and the School in India: The case of  Srujan”written by  Dr.Mahendra   Kumar Mishra ,in charge of Multilingual Education in Odisha, which  explores the possibilities of including the culture of marginalised in schools  to bring up a mutual and democratic culture where the parents, community members,  children and teachers can share the community knowledge in the context of Indian school education.

 

The experiments that   have takenup by the educators in tendifferent countries of the globe have a commonality. Schools have denied community knowledge and denied the rich experiential knowledge of the children. Schools    can accommodatethe community and respect community knowledge as the source of building solidarity.

 

Christine E Sleeter   is Professor   Emerita at the College of Professional Studies, California State University, Monterey Bay, and President of the National Association of Multicultural Education. Her recent books   include Teachingwith Vision” (edited with Catherine Cornbleth).Encarnacion Soriano is professor   of research methods in education atthe Universityof Almeria, Spain.

 

Contributors :Isabelle  Aliaga,GilbertoArriaza, Andres Calderon, Maria  Antonia Casanova, Juan Francisco Contreras, Dolores Delgado Bernal, Gina  E De Shera, Martine Dreyfus, Judith Flores Caramona,AnneHynds,Veronica Lopez, Mahendra Kumar  Mishra, CarmenMontecinos, Jose Luis Ramos, Jose Ignacio Rodriguez and Alice Wagner.

 

May  2012 /240 pp/paperback  $ 52.95, ISBN 978-0-8077-5337-8

 

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Or  visit  us on the web  at www. tcpress.com

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 SRUJAN :  A Culturally   Responsive School Through  Community Knowledge in Odisha 

 

Mahendra Kumar Mishra

 

In any physical work, even the most degrading and mechanical, there exists a minimum of […] intellectual activity. […]All men are intellectuals, one could therefore say: but not all men have the function of intellectuals in society. […] There is no human activity from which every form of intellectual participation can be excluded: homo fabercannot be separated from homo sapien

 

Antonio Gramsci

 

.

 

Introduction

 

India, a multilingual and multicultural country with a diversity of cultures, languages, customs, faiths and beliefs, offers a new spirit of living together. M. N. Srinivas mentioning the diverse cultures of India says that “there are literally hundreds of such relatively homogenous regions in India, and the culture of each of them cut across caste and class” (2002: 428). Farmers, artisan groups and landowners, despite their diversities in caste, language,   religion and customs, live together. The social categories of urban, rural and tribal have intertwined in the web of diverse language, culture which has created a composite culture in the country.

 

This paper discusses the community school linkages in the tribal villages of the state of Odisha through SRUJAN (creativity) – a programme adopted in the primary schools by the government of the state of Odisha. The objective of the programme is to explore the funds of knowledge from the community and to help children to learn from their cultural context. This was to create culturally responsive schools that   would reverse tribal children’s alienation from it. The community acts as the cultural resource, contributing to the school through activities such as storytelling festivals, crafts and art, music and dance, nature study, village exploration, and math and science festivals. In this chapter, I examine how SRUJAN has been instrumental to building solidarity between the community and school by breaking the dichotomy that casts the school as the abode of knowledge and the community as a non-entity in knowledge creation. 

 

Background

 

Although the Constitution of India safeguards the   education of minority children in their languages and cultures, there is little evidence that the Indian states have addressed the educational issues of marginalized communities. Thus, the democratic spirit of education is violated by way of imposing the dominant culture and language in the state curriculum. Social exclusion leads   to educational exclusion as well not physically but intellectually also. The dominant state language is used as the medium of instruction. Uniform textbooks are written by the upper caste curriculum designers who have little knowledge on the cultural values of linguistic and ethnic minorities. Teachers’ structured knowledge from the textbook and use of fixed teaching methods impede children’s creativity. Thus, the diverse cultural resources of race, gender, language, religion and ethnicity are ignored in the school system. Instead, discrimination is found in the school and classroom, and in the behaviour and attitude of the teachers, perpetuates these inequities in schools. Mainstream educations subjugate the learning of the marginalised. 

 

Context:

Odisha is a state in the Indian union.  The total population of the state is 4.21 million. Odisha is a tribal (known as indigenous people in rest of the world) dominated state: its 62 scheduled tribes (ST) constitute 23% of the total state population (Taradutt: 1994:14). These tribal are divided in to three language groups: Austric, Dravidian, and Indo Aryan. While the state’s literacy rate is 63.5%, the state’s tribal literacy rate in the state is 37.37%.The male tribal literacy rate is 51.48 %, while the female rate is 23.37 % (Census of India, 2001).

 

The Scheduled Caste (SC) community in Odisha constitutes 16% of the state population.  Thus, the ST and SC communities constitute about 39% of the state population. Historically they have been marginalized from the upper caste/class.  While the STs are forest dwellers and live geographically secluded from the plains, SCs used to live with other caste groups in the plains. They were considered as untouchables, and were living separately in the outskirts of the villages. In post-independence India, they have asserted their rights as being equal to other caste groups. 

 

 There are 30 revenue districts in the state, distributed by 314 Blocks, with 4742 clusters, each cluster serving as a unit of 8-10 schools. The state has 51,668 primary schools and 22,042 upper primary schools  (OPEPA, 2010).  7 out of 30 districts have female literacy rate is less than 30. Interdistrict disparity in literacy of the state is more than 50 % (Census of India 2001).

 

  Ninety percent of the teachers in tribal areas are non-tribal. They role is to ‘mainstream’ the tribal children by imparting the uniform curriculum making them capable of “writing and reading” the alphabet in the state language, which is the medium of instruction. The non-tribal teachers consider the tribal language and culture as ‘uncivilized’ and ‘uncultured’ compared to state language.  About 10% of the teachers in the state belong to tribal communities. Since they are also educated in the Oriya medium schools, they too do not use their mother tongue to teach tribal children in. 

 

Children in tribal areas do not understand the language and content of the textbooks and, therefore, face serious learning difficulties. Tribal children do not find their experience reflected in their classroom. The content and language of the teachers and textbooks are non contextual. As a result, a majority of tribal children in tribal areas drop out from the school. 

 

Parents and community have little to do with school functioning except to send their children to schools.  The functioning of the school, in both management and academic domains has weak community participation. There is a huge gap between the literate teachers, on one side, and the non-literate parents and school committee, in creating a common understanding of school functioning

 

 Opportunity and Challenges

 

    It is important to understand the   meaning of solidarity and differences.  There may be many cultures co exists in a given space, but   that does not mean that they form a multiculturalism unless they are mutually beneficial. Thus   solidarity means understanding of different cultures enriching each other for a common goal where    each culture is respected and mutually understood, thereby reducing the disparity and foster democratic values. 

 

Defining the dynamics of multiculturalism   Bikhu Parikh   is of opinion that    culture are internally   plural and dynamic in nature, changing as they relate to other culture. He further says that “Multiculturalism doesn’t simply mean a numerical plurality of different cultures, but rather a community which is creating, guaranteeing, and encouraging spaces within which different communities are able to grow at their own pace. At the same time, it means creating a public space in which these new communities are able to interact, enrich the existing culture, and create a new consensual culture in which they recognize reflections of their own identity (Parikh, 2001, p.337)

 

Semali and Kincheloe are of opinion that    the western benchmark curriculum has been   universal in schools and the knowledge of the marginalized   are subjugated. According to them, “the power struggle involves   who is allowed to proclaim truth and to establish the procedures  by which truth is to be established ; it also involves who holds the power  to determine what knowledge is of most worth and should be included in academic   curricula.(Semali and Kincheloe(1999:3). There is a deliberate blunder of ignoring the marginalised by the people in power to construct curriculum.  Non-representation of culture of the indigenous in the state curriculum not only violates the democratic spirit but also leads to cultural genocide and lead to self hate. This   difference maintain status quo of the people in power. By this way the system becomes responsible to create disintegration and breaks the solidarity of diverse multicultural society through the schools. In  Indian context , community and teachers have never formed a solidarity group even after sixty years of independence and thus the people in education prevails their hegemony over the nonliterate   parents and community. Apple is of opinion that curriculum is itself part of what has been called a selective tradition. That is from the vast universe of possible knowledge, only some gets to be official knowledge. (Quoted In Sleeter: 2005:6).  It means the community knowledge is not properly represented and children of many marginalised community are deprived of their history and culture. They are forced to follow the curriculum which may not be from their own cultural context. Unfortunately, teachers belonging to the marginalised groups   also become instrumental to domination they hardly understand the dynamics of power. Semali and Kincheloe write that ‘when   history is erased   and decontextualized, teachers,   students and other citizens are rendered   vulnerable to the myths employed to perpetuate social   domination.’ (Semali and Kincheloe: 1999: 31).

 

 According to  Dobbiessolidarity has most often been treated as a latent quality—implicit in shared interests or cultural backgrounds—that only needs to be uncovered. An organizer’s task is thusto show people how their true interests are connected to each other, how those interests can beachieved through collective action, and to maintain this solidarity during struggles. This traditional model associates solidarity with commonality and unity (Dabbies: 2008 :1) 

 

Discussing the    reflective solidarity   Jodi Dean   explains that   Reflective solidarity provides spaces for difference because it upholds the possibility of a universal, communicative “we.” Traditionally, solidarity has been conceived of oppositionally, on the model of “us vs. them.” But this way of conceiving solidarity overlooks the fact that the term “we” does not require an opposing “they,” “we” also denotes the relationship between “you” and “me.” Once the term “we” is understood communicatively, difference can be respected as necessary to solidarity. Dissent, questioning, and disagreement no longer have to be seen as tearing us apart but instead can be viewed as characteristic of the bonds holding us together (Jodi   Dean: 1996) 

 

 Looking at the   above definitions   carrying the ideas of solidarity ,differences and multiculturalism   if we look in to the state of school-community relation in Odisha  it would be evident that the histories of the marginalised like tribal, Dalits,  Muslims and women are in the state curriculum. Indian villages having different castes, class, languages and ethnic groups   forms the transcommunal nature and maintain solidarity in their public sphere. But there is a lack of solidarity between the parents  and community and children in one hand and teachers’ community on the other. In a state like Odisha the hierarchy of mainstream curriculum ignores the community’s funds of knowledge and   the trend of high and low cultures are maintained. Differences are maintained in the school system and the solidarity of school and community invite injustice. 

 Based on these theses, it is now   important to examine how SRUJAN programme in Odisha has represented the culture of disadvantaged and marginalised in the schools as the means of fostering multiculturalism. 

 

In public domain people of India shares common belief and customs irrespective of their caste/class differences. The symbols of such solidarity are visible in their cultural practices and performances, like annual festivals and fairs; in which everyone take part irrespective of caste and class.

 But school as a modern institution offers little to invite the community to take part. There is a gap between the literate teachers and the illiterate community members. Schools are an alien place for most of the parents in tribal areas.   This is equally applicable to the semi-literate and literates also. In a tribal village, the schoolteacher is a much respected person in comparison to the illiterate chairman of village school committee. Thus, the historic gap between the community and school is perpetuated due to illiteracy.

The basic philosophy of the National Curriculum Framework 2005 is to bring a   revolutionary change by building solidarity between the school and community. The guiding principles of NCF are to  connect knowledge to life outside the school, shift learning away from rote methods, enriching the curriculum to provide for overall development of children rather than remaining textbook-centric, make examinations more flexible and integrated into classroom  life and finally nurture an over-riding identity of Indian diverse culture and foster democratic values.  

 

Community as resource to school curriculum:

Respecting the funds of knowledge that the diverse community   has, Christine  Sleeter discuss  that, community knowledge  is in built in the children’s   mind and thus teachers have the   opportunity to explore it together with the  children. Further Sleeter writes diverse funds of knowledge means that everyone does not learn the same thing. Allowing for development of diversity in   expertise can serve as an intellectual resource for constructive participation in a multicultural democracy and a diverse world. It is our benefit that we don’t all learn the same thing, beyond the basic skills.  Helping next generations acquire intellectual resources of diverse communities ,including those that historically silenced, can enable creative dialogue and work out of which we might better address problems that seems  intractable.( Sleeter : 2005 : 7 ) 

 

 Vigotsky (1930) writes that “Children’s   learning begins long before they attend   school is the point of discussion. Any learning a child   encounters in school is always has a previous history.” (  Quoted in Sleeter: 2005:106)

 In the state like Odisha, where the disparity of tribal and nontribal is highly visible in the cultural practices, the tribal are marginalized. According to   Sleeter, “historically, knowledge system as well as every day knowledge has been subjugated as peoples have been subjugated. Defining peoples and knowledge as “backward”” uneducated” or “ nonscientific”historically  served as a rationale for exerting power over them and claiming access to their resources.”( Sleeter : 2005: 83)

 

If the community knowledge is not respected, then the   curriculum has to become discriminatory. Curriculum framers need to build on the children’s experiential learning. The classroom knowledge secluded from the local knowledge is   a cultural loss. 

 

Children learn through oral and physical activities that are purposeful for some productive work. The work may be a storytelling during supper, listening stories before sleeping, playing games in the peer group, or singing while planting the sapling or singing lullabies to put the children asleep. Each activity of the children is supported with the elder’s participation.   

 

Community has created a space for the children to play and to enjoy and learn.  Learning is intergenerational in the community irrespective of gender differences. In traditional society learning is not an isolated or competitive activity.  It never creates distinctions / disparity among the children. The concept of ‘win’ and ‘defeat’ is not a part of their community life. This is evident from the dance, music, song, arts, crafts and many more practices of everyday life of the community. What do the children do inside and outside the home in rural and tribal India? The parents and the children work together for productive activity. Elders do their part, but the children also contribute according to their physical ability. A woman while fetching water from the pond in her big pitcher is also well aware of the small girl fetches water in a small pitcher. It symbolizes the social responsibility of the elders towards their younger generation. When a forest woman goes to the forest to collect wildflowers (mahul- basialitifolia)   or mango she also is aware that the little girl of age 3 – 5 collects the flowers or mangos in her small bamboo basket. This indicates that the community has adequate thought on children’s capabilities.

 Even in the absence of a school, the children learn in the community.  Parents don’t teach their children. Their children work with them and learn.  Nothing is taught. Parents don’t identify the children with the tree, fruits and flowers, but it is the child that learns it from the context with purpose and meaning.

Play is the most   interesting item of culture that children like. According to  Butler and others, Play has three major strengths in planning curriculum for children: curiosity about physical development, its potential for dramatic and socio dramatic play, and its potential for games with rules( 1978 : 10). By playing with their peer groups, children learn counting and measuring. From their kitchen and household materials they learn the shapes and sizes of the items they use everyday. They also take part in role playing since they understand the social dynamics and social rules. Traditional games represent the social picture which is the replica of social customs. The events and characters of the family and village are imitated among the children in their games.

 

Let us look in some detail at arts and crafts, two other items of culture which community members use meaningfully, and which embody complex knowledge. The technique of making colour for wall painting and proper combination of colour to make the art symbolic with deep meaning is major intellectual work which is current among the   tribal women folk. Craft is a productive activity which is equally important for earning and learning. Craft bears the most complex technology, mathematics and use of natural resources. Making the house, melting iron, wooden work, bamboo work, weaving, earthen work and many more crafts are highly intellectual, but not found in our curriculum. 

The artists and artisans of the community depend on local resources. Authorship of these creative expressions and skills is not copyrighted. A story, a song, or a wall painting   or a piece of craft is not owned by the performer in the community; thus, the sharing of knowledge is democratic. Children help their parents -while making the bamboo mat and basket and gradually learn by participating. Take any example from the globe on traditional weaving and explore how they live in an adverse condition, but while making the clothes they show their best creative art ever imagined from that social situation. The creative mind is better expressed among them and interestingly if a textile engineer has to learn this how many years he will take to learn this knowledge. It is easy to borrow the motifs of the art but difficult to create a piece of art from one’s own mind. 

 

SRUJAN

The programme I directed — SRUJAN — is conceptualized to establish community and school linkage through child-centric activities, thereby building solidarity between community and school. The main objective of SRUJAN is to create a common platform where community, teachers, and children will work together to understand the environment outside the school as a   source of learning. Its aim is to create a child friendly atmosphere in the school which are familiar to the children (games, music, art, craft, tales, and songs) so as to bring out the inherent talents of each child through the community knowledge (oral and materials resources) for curricular support. 

Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA), the apex body of state education programme, adopted SRUJAN as a flagship to build a bridge between the community and schools.  In January to March 2007, three workshops were conducted inviting the creative teachers, Block Resource Coordinators and Cluster Resource Coordinators to conceptualize the SRUJAN.   

  The discussion  in the workshop were  on teachers exposure to  community’s knowledge and their   cultural methods of learning .Besides, following  discussion were also made . The questions discussed in the workshop were,

  1. When there is no school in our village, how the community members were learning? Do you believe that the villages having no school still have an education system?
  2. How knowledge is generated? What are the methods of dissemination of knowledge in the   school and in the community?
  3.  Why do you need culture? Do you think that our culture is lost?  If yes, how you regain it?  
  4.  How many of you have read national Curriculum Framework 2005?  What is the NCF speaking about the community role in school?
  5.  What do the children like? If you have to make your school child centric what would you do for the children?

Briefly their findings were as follows.

School is run by teachers who don’t involve the community in schooling except the monthly meeting on school management. Teachers have very little knowledge about the community knowledge system. Teachers feel that since the community is non literate, they can’t understand the school knowledge, and therefore teachers don’t share it with the community members /parents. 

 While community knowledge is generated and taught intergenerationally, school knowledge is disseminated through reading and writing skill. Practice of reading and writing is not a part of   tribal culture. Therefore parents cannot help their children in learning outside school hours. Nontribal educated people consider tribal culture as inferior to the mainstream culture. Children come with many experiences and knowledge   to schools. The come with many languages learned from their home and society. Children like to sing, dance, play, listen to stories, draw pictures, travel to the forest and fairs, etc. In order to make the school culturally responsive, teachers suggested adopting these activities. 

 

After that the master trainers were trained on implementation process of SRUJAN in the following areas. 

  1. Collection and documentation of cultural resources from the community: 

  Teachers    collected cultural resources from story tellers, singers, musicians, artisans from the community. Oral tales, songs, myths, legends, proverbs and riddles were collected and documented in the cluster to edit them and prepare bilingual and multilingual reading materials. This led the teachers to understand that oral tradition offers the language resources which are useful for     teaching of language skill as well as comprehension. 

  1. Child Friendly activities:   

During 2007, six activities were adopted for the children: a. Storytelling festival, b. Workshop on arts and crafts, c. music, skit and dance, and d. traditional games, e. nature book (study of nature through direct observation) and f. village project. Each programme is represented by all the schools under the cluster.  Children were given an opportunity to take part in all the activities; 600 children from each cluster took part in six activities according to their own choice. Teachers helped to identify children with specific talents. These six activities were conducted in six national holidays in six different schools. Community resource persons like storytellers, musicians, artists, artisans, and knowledgeable persons took part in the above six programmes depending on their interest and expertise.

The process of enacting each activity varied. The storytelling festival is initiated by a storyteller with five to six children around him in a group. After the story is told by the story teller, children write it in their own language. Then they draw picture based on the theme of the story. Thus, one story narrated by the storyteller expressed in five to six variations in children’s writing, as did the picture the children drew to go with the story.

  The workshop on arts and crafts is based on the raw materials available in the environment. For art, children collected raw materials from their home and village. They knew the art of making indigenous colour and drawing the different art forms. Children taking part in crafts are very interesting.  There, raw materials from nature were transformed into cultural materials. The handicraft made of bamboo, clay, wood, rope, straw, leaf, fruits, flowers and roots were creative work of the children that they had learnt from their parents and elders. The shapes and sizes, mathematical calculations, higher skill of counting, and complex weaving were known to the school children.

Traditional dance and costumes, music and songs were performed by the schoolchildren supported by the musicians.  The most important aspect of the musical instruments is the craft of making them. Children learned from the musicians the techniques of making the instruments from the local sources and something of the art of music. 

 

Traditional games, both outdoor and indoor, for boys and girls, were played in the game festival. Physical activities, socialization, learning the rules of the games, and active participation were the outcomes of   playing games. In nature study activities, children were taken to observe the natural environment in order to understand the importance of the natural objects from the elders. Children prepared lists of such natural objects with its medicinal values. For the village project, children were taken to a village to do a simple survey of its geography, location, direction, institutions, household, roads and communications. They also prepared a village map with the help of the teachers and villagers who took part. This activity is discovery of the knowledge system of the village.

Through SRUJAN, teachers and educators learned to recognize the community members and parents as the resource for knowledge.  Since it is a state-driven programme, about 300,000 children, 14,000 teachers, and 12,000 community members took part in the programme in 523 clusters. About 15,000 community members took part in storytelling to 75,000 children, where the oral stories were written down by the children. 

 

This programme reveals that in a non-literate/ semi literate and multicultural society, linkages can be established between community   and school to reduce the differences of caste, class, gender and language and bring solidarity. More particularly, where the parents are also illiterate,   the risk is more vulnerable.

Impact of SRUJAN 

 After   introduction of SRUJAN children got back their childhood.

 

SRUJAN reflected on two major outcomes: building solidarity among the teachers, the community and the children for a common cause; and the learning potential embedded in the community knowledge (that has been historically ignored) in the school curriculum were   recognized and shared among everybody. 

 

Literate people’s involvement with illiterate people in sharing of oral knowledge is a major point of departure from ‘exclusion’ toward ‘solidarity’. Marginalized illiterates can create and share knowledge that can be the source of curricular knowledge. This gave the listeners a firsthand impression that any language has the power of expression, and that school education has recognized all languages that are spoken in the community. Many communities listened to each other’s expression.

Teachers explored the idea that tradition has its methods of learning and teaching which cannot be excluded from its context. Thus group solidarity of teachers   was established and they respected the community language. In the storytelling festival, Dalit elders, tribal elders and Muslim elders felt honoured while articulating their tales and songs.  While the children were amused with play, storytelling, music, dance, and arts and crafts, teachers and community members were breaking their respective myths of disconnections and were developing a relation of mutual understanding for wider learning. Teachers could know that anything can be treated as a part of learning since it has come from a human intellectual activity.

 Before SRUJAN, community had little opportunity to take part in any intellectual activities in school system. For instance, a potter said that he is remembered only when tiles were required by the school teachers during rainy season.  But for the first time he is called as a potter to share the crafts of pottery, which gave him immense pleasure and he felt honoured. Another old man was invited to the school and given 10 minutes to tell a story. As he stood and started to tell the story, he became so energized to speak before a loud speaker that he elaborated the story. Thirty minutes later, when he is asked to complete the story, he was not ready to leave the loud speaker. He narrated the whole story which was full of energy, eloquence, oral narrative style, and body language, making it enjoyable. This is a new experience for a man in his 70s to get recognition from a school to act as a storyteller. When the story is then written and showed to him, he could not believe that his story could be written down. Similarly women artisans, storytellers, dancers and musicians had a new experience. The whole set of activities conceptualized in SRUJAN had a web of connectivity which combined the creative activities of children, community and teachers.

SRUJAN transformed teachers’ perception of community knowledge. Prior to this programme, teachers from the target schools were almost ignorant about it. The storytelling programme was an eye opener to the teachers.  It was a transformation from the earlier teaching life. They changed their approach to language teaching. The oral formula of storytelling in the villages was revealed when the storytellers started performing in the storytelling festivals. Observing the storytelling, the teachers discovered that the community has its methods of storytelling that, although oral, are participative and interactive for the children. Teachers also found that children wrote down the story with a picture to create texts. Teachers found the text meaningful when the community discussed   as to why and how the story is important in their culture and how its meaning is embedded in their cultural context. Storytellers from different language groups knew each other’s cultural potentials. Other activities, like playing games, were also highly productive for learning since they had rules, socialization and physical expression. Music, dance, and arts and crafts were complex items of culture that were connected to their natural environment. The older community members and children, as well as the teacher, took part in dance, music and song. From arts and crafts workshops, children were able to prepare culturally meaningful materials out of locally available raw materials.

Teachers played their role as facilitators between the children and the communities in conducting the activities, showing awareness that the knowledge created by the community is as important as the school knowledge.  They came to understand that community knowledge acquired by the children prior to school should be connected to school knowledge. Community members irrespective of age and sex attended the school activities and took part. Teachers recognized and honoured them as the knowledge givers. The gap between the teachers, children and community is bridged. Teachers found that school has become a center for community interaction.

In the follow up programme of SRUJAN , teachers and resource persons were engaged in  preparation of bilingual materials like story book, picture – dictionaries, story chart, big book, small book etc. 

 

Inclusion of community  as the prime actor of sharing   knowledge from social domain to school domain, recognition of    community resource persons as the intellectuals in construction of child friendly   curriculum and materials is a small initiative adopted by the government. When the   success of this programme is manifold the threats of this programme is that since it is initiated  since last four years, and a lot have to be done to concretize and revising it, it is necessary in the part of the system to  experience it and construct it in a way to make it a sustainable in built programe of the school in their everyday activities. Further  the conflict of standard classroom texts and learning outside the classroom must join together in teachers professionalism so that  community knowledge in the early of children in primary schools can be contextual, meaningful and exploring.  

 

Conclusion:

 

 In rural and tribal India, community has been historically marginalized and isolated from the school curriculum   in the name of illiteracy. But the fund of knowledge that is created by the community is the foundation to the children’s development. Diversities of castes and tribes, verities of languages and beliefs need to be addressed through critical multicultural education school system. 

 

Community in rest part of the world may be different from that of   tribal and rural India. Even the programme like Srujan from Orissa context may not be suitable to  fit in to other context. But the culture and knowledge created for the children by the community, irrespective of diversities, is universally   common. Therefore the experience of Srujan may help conceptualizing the commonalities and differences. Some of the methods of story telling may be useful to similar locations. 

 

Due to global migration, states with “mono-cultural and mono-lingual hegemony has been   challenged by multiculturalism. In this case, understanding of other’s culture in relation to  one’s own culture and respecting the values of others’ culture certainly help the globe to bring peace  and mutual harmony. School as an agency of social transformation must nourish the community knowledge and values to   bring solidarity among the oppressed and marginalized. This would help in bringing an equitable quality education to achieve the millennium development goal.  

 

Appendix

Learning out come from SRUJAN activity

Sl No. Name of the Activity 

 NCF 2005

Learning Out come 
1 Storytelling festival Reading, Creative Writing, Picture Story, Capturing community oral tradition,  Fluency of speaking, use of local language style, Body Language, comprehensive discussion, Concentration, and attention
2 Song, Dance and Music Creative expression of children , physical movement,  use of musical instrument, Developing dancing skill, Psychomotor development, understanding the role of music in the society, group solidarity, art of singing, leader ship and group behavior,  Phonetic, structure and function of the musical instrument
Art and Craft Mela Understanding of natural and material resources, Preparation of useful productive materials from raw materials, Inter generational learning, understanding season productive activities, income supportive materials like paper work, Art of  making different colors, love for manual work, Aesthetic beauty, knowing geometrical shapes and size, preparation of meaningful TLM for class room, Expression of ideas  
Traditional games and sports Games for and girls, Indoor and outdoor games, socialization, concepts of shapes, size time counting, measuring, group behavior, Imitation of social rules and practices,  Mathematical calculation, Role Playing, Meaningful use of local resources, Compensation, Leadership, Physical development, Group Dynamic 
Science quiz General knowledge , Observation,

Experimentation,  Truth, Logic, Problem Solving, Reasoning, Exploration,  Analytic thinking, Mental Exercise, Competition, 

Nature Study  Exploring the local environment and Nature, Collection of words  related to flora and fauna, Ideas on medicinal Plant/ Herbal, Agriculture
Math Mela Truth, Logic, reasoning, Geometrical concept, Mental Exercise, Mental math, Concept of time and shape, Mathematical Calculation, Arithmetic,  Cultural Mathematics, Math magic, Puzzels, Quiz

 

Reflections of SRUJAN on Community, Children and Teacher 

  1. Teacher
Before SRUJAN  After SRUJAN 
Table act as the  barrier between Teacher and  students Barrier free and two way learning   is made possible 
Teacher  play as actor and  children play as silent viewer Children as actor and teachers are helper
Teacher is ignored about his/her childhood Teacher is fully aware about his/her childhood & deals effectively as per need & situation
In the classroom the full time is consumed by the teacher & the students as passive receiver In the contrary the teachers & students are fully involved in the classroom transaction
Learning is limited to blackboard Learning from outside the classroom is being taken up
Teachers were unable to understand the language, culture & tradition of the children The teacher is well versed with the language, culture & tradition of the children
Importance is given to curriculum & prescribed text Importance is given to both text & local knowledge
Hidden talents, creativity is not recognized Hidden talents & creativity are duly recognized & given importance
Teacher also learned himself from the programme

 

  1. Children 
Before After
Individual talent & creativity is not explored Exploration of children’s creativity & hidden talents
Stage fearless is found in every child children became fearless in the classroom outside also
No scope for development of leadership quality The leadership quality is gradually developed
No spontaneous, fun participation among children Spontaneous participation in all activity
Lack of curricular integration of cultural elements with the educational elements Local cultural elements is now integrated with the educational elements
Children were passive & their talent is not discovered by the teacher Children became active
There is no children dominated activity Child centered activities are being conducted
Both the parents & children were not involved in the school curriculum Now the involvement of parents & children in school curriculum is more
Self respect of SC/ST children is not bothered Self respect is being honoured
Voice of the children is  The knowledge or statement are being recognized & recorded
Aspiration or expectation of children is not counted by the parents The Parents are giving importance to the aspiration of children
Caste discrimination is occurred in the classroom Caste based discrimination in the class being eradicated
Non use of own cultural resources Cultural elements are being used in classroom transaction
Children’s absenteeism Absenteeism is now reduced

 

  1. Community
Before After
Less involvement of community members in intellectual  activities in school Active participation of community members in SRUJAN activity like storytelling festival, Song dance, Art & craft
The story tellers, traditional musicians, artists, carpenters,  craftsman, folk singers are ignored by the society They feel good that their culture, tradition, musical instruments, songs,  dance which are going to be forgotten by the society are used in “SRUJAN” programme
They are ignorant about the creative skills of their own children They got an opportunity to recognize their children’s creativity
Less scope for community, teachers, school, children interaction Through SRUJAN interaction between community members, teachers, school, children is increased

 

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