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Striking a chord in students

Serena Josephine. M
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‘Villu paatu' replaces blackboard and textbook to teach Tamil lesson on Avviyar

FOLKSY STRINGS: STRINGS Students of Panchayat Union Primary School at Koyankollai near Natrampalli learn a Tamil lesson through the villu paatu.
FOLKSY STRINGS: STRINGS Students of Panchayat Union Primary School at Koyankollai near Natrampalli learn a Tamil lesson through the villu paatu.

Class IV students of Panchayat Union Primary School at Koyankollai near Natrampalli get ready for a Tamil lesson on poet Avvaiyar. But instead of the blackboard and textbook, they learn the poet's sayings through one of the oldest folk art forms of Tamil Nadu – the ‘villu paatu'.

As Reena, a student, leads the choir narrating a story through the ‘villu paatu', the teacher K. Anitha and other students join in chorus repeating lines after her giving a new dimension to activity-based learning in the school.

In fact, the students of this school having been learning important lessons in Science, Tamil and Social Science subjects through folk arts. Thanks to the efforts of the school headmaster S. Saravanan, a folk artist himself, who introduced the students to various folk arts including oyilattam, karagattam, kollatam, villu paatu and boomalattam.

“We take important lessons in these subjects and write songs. These songs are taught to the students through folk arts. For instance, we have prepared songs on lessons on local body, assembly, global warming and women's education and taught the students through oyilattam and villu paatu. They show great interest in learning the songs and this makes understanding the lessons easy for them, giving no space for memorisation,” said Mr. Saravanan.

The two teachers of the school – Anitha and M. Vijayakumar – evinced interest in teaching the students using folk arts as a medium, he added. V. Palani, a parent and president of the schools' maintenance committee is happy that his children do well in academics and attributes their performance to this method of learning. “They keep singing these songs on the road while returning from school and also at home,” he said.

Turning a lesson on personal hygiene into a song, the headmaster made it very clear to the students on the importance of washing hands before eating and preventing water borne diseases, while another song on women's education narrated how women have achieved in various fields. An enthusiastic Reena taps on the ‘villu' narrating a story on the sayings of Tamil poet Avvaiyar. “I learned the song and can understand the poet's sayings easily. We enjoy our classes,” she said. Not just villu paatu, the teachers have also converted Tamil lessons with dialogues into a puppetry show thereby making comprehending easy for students. “For puppetry, we give parts to the students. Through this, they learn the dialogues in the lessons easily. We take the concept of the lessons, write songs in the villu paatu structure and teach it to the students,” said Anitha, a teacher. Vijayakumar, another teacher, said that teaching and learning through the folk arts has resulted in better academic performance of the students.

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