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Updated: January 19, 2011 23:02 IST

Reading is basic to democracy

Krishna Kumar
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The teaching of reading during early childhood — when attitudes, habits and skills acquire life-long foundations — assumes crucial significance for the efficient functioning of democracy.

Literacy is the foundation of school education but in our country the term ‘literacy' is used almost exclusively in the context of adults. This is not surprising, given the embarrassingly large share of India in the global count of adults who can neither read nor write. Why India's share has not dwindled significantly is partly related to the fact that the years spent by children in primary schools do not necessarily make them literate. Many who acquire a tenuous grip on literacy during those years fail to retain it in the absence of opportunities to read, compounded by elimination from school before completing the upper primary classes. Even in the case of those who acquire lasting literacy, schooling fails to impart the urge to read as a matter of habit. Those who learn to perceive reading as a means to expand knowledge and awareness are a minority. Sensational surveys of children's poor performance in reading tests throw little light on the deeper problems that the teaching of reading in India suffers from. If these problems are not addressed in an institutionalised manner, the newly enacted law on the right to education will remain ineffective.

The ability to decipher isolated letters of the alphabet is not a promising beginning in the child's progress towards becoming literate. However, this is precisely what conventional wisdom tells teachers to focus on. The wisdom is based on millennia-old practices which enabled a few children to become literate. When we apply this wisdom today, we forget that the method worked in a socio-cultural context which was altogether different from our context now. When literacy was confined to a thin upper strata of society, the teacher demanded from his wards a mastery over letters and sounds for its own sake. It took years to acquire such mastery, and the methods used to ensure it included oppressive drills and a punitive regime that can have no place today. When people feel nostalgic about traditional education, they forget that it was based on a view of childhood few would approve today. Moreover, the traditional system had no intention to cover all children. The methods it used for the teaching of reading are unsuitable for a universal system of education. The traditional approach does not recognise the child's nature and agency, nor does it respect individual differences.

New approach

The traditional methods are incompatible with the modern psychology of childhood and the knowledge available today on the acquisition of language-related skills. Contemporary expertise is based on the premise that children have a natural drive to explore and understand the world; hence, reading should give them the opportunity to make sense of printed texts from the beginning. ‘Making sense' as an experience involves relating to the text, generating a personal engagement and interpretation. If children are not encouraged to relate to the text, or if the text they are given has little meaning or relevance, the outcome will be a crude kind of literacy, which will remain isolated from their intellectual and emotional development. If this wider meaning of reading is applied to make an assessment, our system of primary education will arouse far greater concern than children's test scores in achievement surveys do. Persistent effort under the pressure to perform does make children capable of reading aloud a written text, but they fail to find any meaning in it. And the ability to decipher a text mechanically does not encourage children to actively look for new texts to read. The anecdote narrated by ChinnaChacko, a former member of the NCERT, in a paper she presented at the International Reading Association in 1971 continues to hold true. When she asked a child to read aloud, he asked: “With the text or without the text?” Reflecting on the methods used in Indian schools for teaching children how to read, ChinnaChacko wrote: “Many things are done the same way they have been done for centuries and, as a result, our primary teacher-training schools and primary schools are like museums in which old ways are carefully preserved.”

The cost of this museum-mentality is high, if we take into account the role that a reading public plays in a democratic order. The practice of democracy assumes both the habit and the capacity in all citizens to engage with matters which transcend personal or immediate reality. We can call it the metaphysics of daily life under modernity. It compels every member — without exception — to share a collective anguish and to respond to it in one way or another. Engagement with this expanded universe cannot be sustained without the tools of literacy, in addition to — and not as a substitute of — the oral means of interaction. In this model, reading serves as more than a skill; it becomes an aspect of culture. It must enable citizens to reflect on what is going on, not merely a skill to decipher printed texts. From this larger perspective, the teaching of reading during early childhood — when attitudes, habits and skills acquire life-long foundations — acquires crucial significance for the efficient functioning of democracy. This perspective implies drastic changes in the currently practised pedagogy of reading in pre-schools and the primary classes. Instead of letter-recognition and mechanical decoding, pedagogic effort must focus on building bridges between words and meanings, and on nurturing an interpretive stance from the earliest stage. This kind of pedagogy requires meaningful texts and a sustained use of children's literature. The texts used for the teaching of reading should treat the child with dignity, showing respect for the child's inner drive to interpret and relate. The sociology of the text content is equally important. We need texts that make children excited about the social and cultural diversity that they encounter in their ethos. We also need kind and affectionate teachers who are themselves habitual readers and can encourage each child to perceive reading as a means to pursue his or her own interest.

NCERT's role

A 40-part series of books for beginner readers, published by the NCERT, successfully responds to these various expectations. Entitled Barkha, this series was prepared by the department of early literacy and libraries under a special project of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The little books included in this series mark several innovations, including those in design and illustration, and not just in the conception of child-centred narratives. In place of the usual patronising attitude towards children that we see in educational literature, the Barkha books present real children, doing the kinds of things ordinary children do at home and in the neighbourhood. A radical attempt has been made in these books not just to move away from stereotypes, but to challenge them. It is the first time in India that a graded reading series, with a literary approach to reading, has been introduced. The early literacy department of the NCERT, which created this series, has been working with several State governments, encouraging them to develop similar material in their languages and to train teachers to adopt the imaginative approach to reading what Barkha represents.

Strangely enough, the NCERT has decided to close down the department that was promoting this approach. This is not the first time in India, or within the NCERT itself, that a distinct attempt to focus on reading and libraries has been prematurely abandoned. Institutional vicissitudes are much too common to require comment. One can only hope that the Ministry of Human Resource Development, which controls the NCERT, will review this decision and restore early literacy's academic identity. Strong institutional leadership is required to motivate State governments, NGOs and private publishers to take children's literature, especially its neglected aspects like design and illustration, seriously. The illustration copied here from a children's book recently published by the National Book Trust shows how insensitive even a reputed publishing house can be towards violence on women. After decades of advocacy for gender-sensitive material for children, the larger scenario remains quite alarming. Many NGOs have now taken to publishing for children, and in the absence of expert guidance and institutionalised review processes, they are churning out poor quality material, often with explicit ideological bias. State governments purchase such material with the copious funds that the SSA provides for classroom libraries. The NCERT does need to play a leadership role in this anarchic scene.

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The writer correctly points out the flaws in the Indian education
system.It has been rightly said that in India,two India's reside,with
a vast difference between the two.This difference can be bridged only
by one tool and that is education.Merely passing the bill of Right to
education for all will not work,unless & until it is implemented at
the ground level.We have provided literacy but without
education.People know how to read & write but without knowing what to
write.The purpose of education is to impart knowledge which compels
the mind to think & introspect.But Indian education system lacks the
purpose for which it has been created.The various governing bodies and
the institutions must realize this,until its too late to make any
change.

from:  Shilpa
Posted on: Dec 18, 2011 at 19:47 IST

Professor Krishna Kumar rightly says that we must review our education system. Why should we not consider even our own traditions? We had the Prabhakar school of Purva Mimamsa in which a perspective was built on the pragmatic view of education. On the basis of his hermeneutics and symantics, he said that all meaningful propositions whether instructive or ordinary, are imperative. The goal of education should be to build up a perspective to view the world. Teaching language should be more pragmatic as a child has a natural ability to learn the language. He need not be made memorise word-meanings, rather he should be taught to grasp the meanings expressed through the sentences by the implementation of that that is said through it. As all the meaningful ideas are such that work in practical life. So the ultimate meaning of any text is always an imperative sense that is needed to be grasped. So a child can better learn by implementing practically a proposition that is expressed through a sentence. The implementation of a proposition, say 'Eat this apple', makes him learn its meaning automatically. So while teaching a language, a teacher should better skip the memorisation of word-meanings in order to make our education system more pragmatic.

from:  Sushant Kumar
Posted on: Feb 19, 2011 at 13:16 IST

Mr. Krishnakumar well done! This is right time to review our education system for better out come of children in relation to forthcoming trends of our country, otherwise even we cannot assume future trends. Once again think with regard to 'GURUKULAM' system or otherwise some drastic changes are invited and incorporated to totally modify the present education system.

from:  Kotha Ramamohan
Posted on: Feb 5, 2011 at 18:33 IST

I think Krishna Kumar has done a good job here to show the ugly image of our school system.

from:  Pankal Bhardwaj
Posted on: Feb 2, 2011 at 22:03 IST

Professor Krishna Kumar has penned an incisive article on the mailaise that plagues the educational system in the country. As several readers have noted in their comments as well, apart from the shift in pedagogy, what is also crucial is to provide classrooms with meaningful and contextual reading material. A vast majority of our children are enrolled in government schools, and most come from economically weaker sections of society. These children (or rather, the parents) do not have the means to access meaningful reading material on their own. It is therefore essential that schools are equipped with libraries, and more importantly, that books in these libraries can be accessed by children. A visit to most schools that do have libraries will reveal that these books are locked up in cupboards that are usually housed in the headmaster's room. Also, mere provision of books is not enough. There should be a sustained attempt to supplement it with classroom activities that encourage and nurture reading with meaning, thereby making it a life-long, enjoyable habit.

from:  Aparna Banerjee
Posted on: Feb 1, 2011 at 11:24 IST

Great insight into the current educational system. But I guess, a little late. The problem is much old. Today a graduate does not want more than a well paying job. The focus has shifted from obtaining education to getting jobs. Graduates (PGs for that matter) have started to focus on the returns of a degree than the fruits of education. When a wrong seed has been sown can't expect the right tree.
And as to the old system, You have talked about both the pre-British and British systems. In both of them although selective it was effective. Education should improve the social status of the population not just the economic status . I dont think providing attractive text books or illustrative examples will change that. It could lead to a situation where the demand is more than the supply .

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Jan 30, 2011 at 23:24 IST

The important message I think is that words are but a representation of a concept. Defining "simple" things like "good" and "bad" is a representation of the mind boggling task faced by a teacher.Unless a word stimulates the imagination of a child the lesson is wasted.It is like "confusing the map with the territory". To quote President Barack Obama from his 25th January Second State Of The Union Address: "It's why our students don't just memorize equations, but answer questions like "What do you think of that idea? What would you change about the world? What do you want to be when you grow up?"

from:  Dr Ram Kumar
Posted on: Jan 30, 2011 at 17:27 IST

Priyashafi is right.. the parents must read too.. Only then can they expect the child to read.

from:  Benedict
Posted on: Jan 21, 2011 at 20:33 IST

A very well thought and well written article indeed. The joy of reading is disgustingly underrated and killed at a very early age. It's sad not to find a good number of INTERESTED READERS in any age group let alone the pree-teen kids. Rote learning holds good from pre-school to post grad study, and rewardingly so.

from:  Sharath
Posted on: Jan 21, 2011 at 04:23 IST

It is time to recall our ancestors whom we now read only in NCERT books e.g Tagore who realy understood inner hearts and insane psychology of children hence imparted education in natural environment and the syallabus was what pupil liked and loved.

from:  Naseer
Posted on: Jan 21, 2011 at 02:44 IST

A tought provoking article. It is good to know (from the comments of the readers) that there was revival of libraries in villages by commited men. In this context it is relavant to remember that during the days of freedom struggle great men like Gadicharla Hari Sarvotthama Rao brought about the library revoulation and established a number of libraries in many villages of Andhra Pradesh.In a country where literacy (like poverty) is only used only as a statistics to quote during interviews by the nethas, little could be expected of fostering the habit of reading during the early stages of a student's education.Though teachers are often blamed for the ossified and time warped methods employed by them, the root of the problem does not always lie with them. Even if some creative teachers in government schools venture to do something meaningful, they are restless after being burdened with onerous tasks like collecting the census,counting the votes or working for a number of welfare activities initiated by the whimsical ministers of varous departments. The general superstition of the people is also to be blamed who deem the marks in the examintations as the ultimate touchstone of academic excellence.Interstingly this belief is held by both urban and rural populace alike.Whereas the children in urban areas do not find sufficient time to read books other than those ordained by the curriculum,after getting glued to the computer games,watching the TV and partcipating in the reality shows,their counter parts in rural areas are langushing because of lack libraries and infrastructure. The irony of this is that the country produces every year number of graduates that equals the population of France is that it also squanders the opportunity to impart basic education to children of many more times than this. The solution to this problem is to increase the budget for primary education system and see that its students in the rural schools, many of whom are poor, are not starved and the teachers who instruct them are given enough time and freedom to carry out their duty and provide them with modern techniques of teaching.

from:  Veerabhadram
Posted on: Jan 21, 2011 at 01:36 IST

The essay beautifully brings out the current scenario of readership in the country and suggests some very reasonable steps to improve that. What else could have been done? The importance of reading could have been brought more subtly by bridging reading and imagination. India lags way behind in innovation number of patents p.a. gives an idea of the situation. By inculcating a reader within an individual would be familiar of lots of different ideas already floated and could make a connect. Science as we know has hugely benefitted from various ideas in different fields this is why countries now usher on an inter-disciplinary approach.

from:  Achyut Shukla
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 23:00 IST

sincerely i agree with all the above said comments.But one has to keep in mind the sweetness of reading should be feed by our modern parents during their childhood. If mom and dad spend time on reading, the kids can create interest on their own. There is no need of blaming teachers.Every parent should allocate some more time to create interest for their kids.

from:  Priyashafi
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 22:40 IST

Reading as an activity demands numerous skills, the basic ones being Memory, attention, processing and sequencing. So when a child is made to read at school its not just to stuff the child with knowledge but to provide the child with the reading skill which in turn will equip the child with skills to lead a better life. I appreciate this article and its perspective 'Reading is basic to Democracy'. It's excellent and Krishna Kumar has presented it in the simplest of forms. I wish educators and administrators, not forgetting the parents, take a serious note of this.

from:  Benedict
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 21:19 IST

A superb and detailed analysis of India's present education system has been done by Krishna Kumar. It’s indeed time for reforms in the education system and replacement of obsolete teaching methods with methods that would help children explore the world beyond textbooks.

from:  Apurva Thakre
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 20:35 IST

Krishna Kumar's definition of democracy as the ability of its members to share in a 'collective anguish' is moving. It is a definition based on moral and ethical principles. India, alas, has failed to inculcate that spirit in its privileged citizens who spend so much of the country's budget on militarization and the staging of spectacles rather than ensuring that 40% of its malnourished children can be provided with nutritious food so that their brains may some day learn to read.

from:  Arun Mukherjee
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 19:51 IST

The problems with the Indian education system are evident. Many children do not attend school at all; those that do may not last the distance; and many that actually finish their schooling learn by rote, as per the system millennia ago. That is, of course, not to belittle the achievements of our forefathers in the field of knowledge and teaching. However, as the author rightly points out, the methods used to instruct but an elite few are not efficacious when applied to educating all our youth. New means and methods need to come to the fore. This is no mean feat though. It is true that books which have an appropriate content could be made freely available to encourage reading on a larger scale, but it is difficult to teach people who do not have the inclination to learn. One cannot simply put the entire blame on the government and the education system. A child's desire to attend school and progress well stems to a large extent from the value placed on education by his or her family, especially the parental components. Educated parents begetting educated children forms a positive feedback cycle. Unfortunately the reverse is also true. The legal requirement to send one's child to school ought to certainly help, but it is also important to make the benefits of schooling clear to parents from all backgrounds. Such a campaign would take some time to come to fruition, but it would be worth the wait. One note of caution, however. In the years to come, assuming our literacy rate compares well with western standards, the government will have to ensure that there is sufficient employment to meet the demands of the educated youth. A thinking mind bereft of opportunities to exercise itself in a constructive manner could, in its sheer frustration, begin to explore destructive avenues instead.

from:  Samir Mody
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 19:48 IST

This article should be taken as an eye-opener for the existing system of teaching and learning which currently aims to uplift the literacy rate (now perceived as an ability to read and write) only. Being literate, as said in one of the comments, means comprehending the ability to read and write with personal thoughts and analysis. What would be the end result of being so-called literate if we are unable to think beyond the typed texts? India needs to reform and correct the basics of learning to make the economy align with the changing needs, both at the local and global level.

from:  Achintya Jain
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 19:34 IST

Good analysis! I feel children like what's fun for them like watching cartoons, playing games etc. To want a kid to read and develop reading as an everlasting habit one is ought to make it as interesting as watching cartoons for them by making it equally sparkling and engaging. In schools books are still being read just for the sake of clearing exams rather than understanding the concept and values behind the texts. We definitely need a revolution in the way we foster the young brains of INDIA.

from:  Zia
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 19:22 IST

We have recently started an exclusive children's library and we deliver books in Chennai, Bengaluru and Coimbatore. The general awareness about children's books are very less as the children's books in 'normal' books shops are either 'curricula based' or 'competitive based'. So parents' mindset is 'are there so many books available for children?&' You get good children's books in Landmark and so on. But we think the awareness on books and initiative has to start from schools.

from:  Hari
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 17:20 IST

Making a comfortable and enjoyable relationship between READING of dry letters and own creative IMAGINATIONS is the most important point in the teaching of Reading script. But here two types of problems can be seen - some children are capable of reading aloud a written text, but they fail to find any meaning in it.And some children are quite rich in their creative imaginations, but they fail to imagine from letters, because they are not much smooth in reading ( e.g. they like to listen to the stories, but they are unable to enjoy the story by reading because of the lack of fluency in reading.) So ultimately reading fluently whether understood or not is the first condition to fulfill and then creating imaginations from those writings is the second condition. The schedule for the primary teaching in reading sript should be on the basis of these two sides.

from:  Safrin Begum
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 16:20 IST

I would like to share with you all a spirited attempt made by a committed librarian from Andhra Pradesh to encourage reading habits in his native village. Such efforts deserve support.A small lamp of knowledge was lit in Bandaramaram village of Nalgonda district, Andhra Pradesh last Friday, January14, 2011. Bandaramaram Library and Information Centre (BLIC) was inaugurated by Mr. Vinod Reddy, Chairman of Nalgonda Zilla Granthalaya Samstha at an impressive function attended parents, children and local media. As a symbolic gesture and first contribution, Mr. Vinod Reddy presented two big bundles containing books received by him as complimentary copies from publishers/authors. He exhorted the gathering not to depend on the Government for library development but mobilize resources on their own and strive to start libraries in villages. Mr. A. Srinivas of Gundrampally Library and Information Centre provided a large number of books from his duplicate collection to BLIC and guided on its establishment. The driving force behind BLIC is Mr. Gaddam Satyanarayana, Librarian of Fergusson College in Hyderabad. He struggled for almost three years to smoothen out political differences among the local leaders belonging to various parties and finally could enlist their support for establishment of a village library. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Gaddam Uppalaiah, sarpanch of Bandaramaram Gram Panchayat appealed to the parents to send their children to the village library whenever the children have free time to gain knowledge and information. Responding to the appeal made by him, several donations in the form of a book rack, chairs, newspaper/magazine subscriptions, etc., were announced by the participants at the meeting. It is heartening to note that an amount of Rs.1000 was donated to the library by a young, low-salaried constable belonging to ST community. Bandaramaram is in a backward area with poor literacy level (30%). Unemployment is the major problem faced by the local youth. It has a high school with a strength of around 250 students. This school does not have a library of its own. It is hoped that BLIC would serve both as a public library cum school library for the whole village. Of the total population of 3000, STs form a major part numbering 1400. The people of this village need books in Telugu and English mainly of the following types: Reference books (dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, career guides, etc.) Religious books ,English - spoken and written, Agriculture, Light reading (novels, stories, childrens literature, etc.). I appeal to all LIS professionals and library lovers to support this fledgling library in whatever manner they can. You may wish to contact directly Mr. Satyanarayana at the following address: Mr. Gaddam Satyanarayana, Librarian, Fergusson College, P.G. Centre, Mushirabad, Hyderabad - 500020. Mobile No. 9490019787. Email: gsatyam@gmail.com OR Bandaramaram Library and Information Centre (BLIC) Bandaramaram Village Pasthala Post Thungathurthy Mandal Nalgonda District Andhra Pradesh, India PIN CODE 508 279 On the return journey, Mr. Vinod Reddy visited the Konda Gadapa, another small village in Thungathurthy mandal and motivated the local village development committee to start a library in their village. Hopefully, this library should also start serving the people within the next six months.

from:  T.V. Prafulla Chandra
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 16:04 IST

This is why I read Hindu. What a wonderful article. I think to implement this requires a large help from parents. In my case itself it took many years to cultivate the habit of reading as an adult since I was discouraged from reading anything except textbooks as a kid.

from:  Srinivas Rowdur
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 15:57 IST

A timely article! We need to have a National Mission on Reading immediately. School libraries have been neglected since Independence. Our children should be encouraged to explore beyond their textbooks. We should start school libraries with local support. We have supported starting of a few school libraries in Bhongir, Andhra Pradesh but there is lot of apathy among the teachers. Teachers need to be motivated on how to encourage reading among the school children. Classroom teaching should be supplemented with library use and exploration of the immediate environment.

from:  T.V. Prafulla Chandra
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 15:36 IST

Brilliant analysis. It would be worthwile to add another dimension here. In our scenario education is percieved as a means to an end and that end is to earn a decent income. Very few people percieve learning for the sake of learning. So, when the exams approach students read and then rote a lot. But as soon as the exam is over, everything is forgotten. Hence, the interest in studying further whatever has already been studied is not there. And due to this lack of interest the habit of reading books does not develop or tends to diminish with time. This mindset of looking at education just in economic terms needs to be changed if we want to develop the art of reading which leads to 'real' education, thereby enabling a healthy society.

from:  Jaibir
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 15:34 IST

In many states of India, traditional university degrees such as BA and BSc have been effectively replaced by engineering degrees such as BE and BTech. While the former degrees have language as part of the curriculum at least for one year, the latter ones either do not have them or do not place emphasis on language. To make matters worse, admission to these degrees do not consider the performance in language papers at the school level. As a result, we produce university graduates, sometimes even PhDs, who can neither read or write like a graduate! Couple of easily implementable suggestions: 1. include the performance in at least one language while evaluating a potential candidate seeking admission to any college degree programme, and 2. make at least one language course compulsory for all degree programmes.

from:  K. Subramaniam
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 14:38 IST

The thought is well intended but with the literacy rates and drop-out rates of such a high order and just around 2-3 % of education budget being directed towards school management (a major chunk goes to teacher's salary) I wonder on the practicality of the proposal. Rather, current efforts should be directed to reducing drop-out rates on priority basis. Children can read only if they stay at school.

from:  Kunal Angrish
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 13:33 IST

There is a famous adage-education is the mainefestation of perfection in every human being.There's no gainsaying in the fact that the Indian education system requires a thorough introspection. Admist the privatisation of the system,sadly ,the quality has suffered a great deal.The main aim has shifted from producing brains to producing mules. This degradation can be eradicated with the initiatives from the grass root levels. The primary schools are the building blocks of a child's future.Sarva shikshja abhhiyan and the mid day meal scheme has been the mainstay for quite a long time now.

from:  Anurag
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 12:24 IST

Most of the primary schools and High schools are teaching the students only in result oriented approach. Most of the schools don't have good libraries. Though libraries are there, students are so 'ignorant' to make use of these libraries. It's responsibility of Teachers and School authorities need to create 'Awareness' of this dying reading habit. Most of the Ngo's emerge only in cities/towns.Practically their helping hands are restricted to in and around areas of cities/towns.So spreading 'Reading' awareness to a rural area which is far from towns & Cities remains a question mark!

from:  Venkata Subban
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 12:23 IST

The syllabus, loads of books, home works, exams, inexperienced teachers, etc lead to disinterest in many school going children. Education is being looked by many as obtaining a certificate by clearing each stage to finally find a job in a totally narrowed down specialization. This is basically cursing after having spent about 12 - 16 years in education. Why education cannot be branched of to practical (skill/job oriented) and theoretical giving chance to the group not interested in theory or bookish knowledge to find a way to obtain certification and avenues to live life by doing skill oriented jobs? Few may even start their own small scale industry and provide job to many more.

from:  P S N Murty
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 11:10 IST

Today Reading has become only the hobby of the upper or upper middle class. Now time has come to make this 'teaching of reading' compulsory in classrooms. There should be a systematic way of implementing this by encouraging children to read the set of books and to write their own interpretation of it and then have classroom discussion on it. Otherwise the day is not far when there would be a dearth of intellectuals in this country.

from:  Tarun
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 10:08 IST

Truly,the traditional method of teaching of reading hampers the ability of the child to connect themselves with what they read. They obey the teacher by loudly reading the text but the productive output is null. A concrete wall between the connectivity of the eyes and the mind gets generated which makes the child accept the reading only as an order of the teacher and doesn't allow him to bring out the real sense out of the text passage.He reads through the eyes but it doesn't reach the destination of mind.As a fact of matter,the child dwells in boredom.He doesn't feel like learning or doing something. The methodologies need to be transformed immediately and have been implemented to some extent of positivity in modern education system.The thesis of 'Learning Through Playing' is getting added in primary education.The same fundamental technique can too be implemented in teachings of reading.Let the child feel that he is playing with what is being read by him.Let him interpret,let him reason,let him decide and let him conclude by himself.Let him be the player of the game of reading.The teacher needs to ask the child to throw out his ideas and opinions over what he reads,unhesitatingly. Before the child is educated,the teachers need proper training assistance. They need to erase the stubborn nature of teaching.The adjectives of 'logical' and 'reasonable' can be injected into the veins of the child only through proper reading habit.We have a big target of building a bright future of India which is next to impossible if we don't have logically and reasonably sound kids.So we must head towards 'Proper Reading.'

from:  Amar Sharma
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 09:55 IST

Ability to read and write represents a danger to the version of democracy that exists today in India. It is well known and understood that real literacy will empower the masses. Who likes to be challenged ?

from:  Kumar
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 09:40 IST

Krishna Kumar rightly points out the importance of the reading habit in children as well as in adults. Firstly it would help in generating awareness and knowledge. Secondly it would make people contemporary in their thinking. Thirdly it would increase inter-generational, inter-faith communication. This would help in better understanding of each others point of view. The younger could better absorb the traditional ideas of their elders with old mind set.The older generation would accept the changing mind set of the younger generation.Therefore the old people would be better taken care by the yuonger generation.the inter-faith communication would help better understanding of each others religious ideas. It would pave way for the promotion of tolerance, peace,and blossoming of Indian culture and democracy.Thus government and NCERT must take effective steps to promote reading habits of children.

from:  Bhanu Pratap
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 08:51 IST

It's a pity reading is being considered merely as a mechanical decoder- decoding what has been printed. What would it take to make it a thought provoking,relating thing? A complete education system overhaul,perhaps...memorising what has been printed, afterall is not knowledge.

from:  Mandeep Singh
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 07:27 IST

Excellent essay, giving basic problem in present Indian education. Time came for even teachers to come out of reverie that their method of teaching is best in the world. If they read extensively about developed countries teaching methods ,they might come out of stereo typed methods which we are fallowing in 21st century.

from:  Raghu
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 07:25 IST

In the USA, hail Dolly Parton's imagination library! With the kind of exposure children get to books in the form of NGOs and City libraries irrespective of their social or economic position in the society, I doubt how children will not love reading and imagining further. While the entertainment industry in India can copy every one of the soaps that happens in US almost immediately, why is it that no one is willing to ape atleast to some extent the work of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library?

from:  GPK
Posted on: Jan 20, 2011 at 02:47 IST
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Recent Article in Lead

For a nationalism beyond religion

The Pakistan Army must ask itself whether it is an army for Islam or for Pakistan in the face of an enemy which professes the same faith, and paints the military establishment as the infidel for joining hands with the Americans »