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What stories can do

Eric MIller, Founder and Director of World Storytellling Institute, Chennai

Eric MIller, Founder and Director of World Storytellling Institute, Chennai  

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Sapna Book House celebrated Teacher’s Day with the launch of J. Manaswini’s book launch and a discussion on education in India

Twelve-year-old J. Manaswini could not stop smiling, as her friends and teachers bought an autographed copy of her debut book on Teacher’s Day. Published by Sapna Book House and launched by Dr. Eric Miller, the founder and director of World Story Telling Institute, the debut novella, Jaka in Kakoon, is science fiction with an interesting take on current education system. “I flipped through Manaswini’s book, “ said Eric, “and an image gripped me. It was one where children’s brains were connected to computer software and knowledge was fed into their brains. I did not know if the young author meant it in a sarcastic way. I would love to know her take on the current education system.”

Manaswini said that, though she did not mean to mock the education system, she believed that every child should be treated equally in school. “They should not be judged on the basis of their marks.” The student of BVM Global said that her ambition is to become a scientist. But she is also a voracious reader and loves literature. “My mother is an English teacher and encouraged me to read a lot. My father would tell me stories at night. All this contributed to me taking to writing.”

She has been writing stories since the age of seven. “I wanted to write about the world, the way I saw it. I also owe it to my teachers, who shaped my writing style.” She says it was thrilling to find her book in the school library. “I felt proud when my book was talked about in the school assembly. My friends could not believe that I had turned author. It was a special moment.” The young author’s favourites included Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and Enid Blyton.

On the same day, Sapna Book House held an open-house session — Quo Vadis: Wither goest Thou, Indian Education? — on the future of Indian education, moderated by Eric. Participants included students, teachers and parents. Eric said that storytelling has an important part to play in education and that his fascination for stories led him to India. “My parents hailed from publishing. I wanted to do something fun. I picked storytelling. Hence, I chose to come to India because of its vibrant and rich culture of storytelling.”

He settled down in Chennai in 1988 and “that he was captivated by the story of Silappathikaram and the legend of Kannagi. She believed in her ideals, feared none and rebelled against the highest civic authority of her times. That story had a great impact on me,” he recalls.

Eric also said that storytelling is not meant just for children. “In our institute, the main participants are adults. We offer training sessions and workshops for teachers, business men and corporates. Storytelling is also employed for enhancing communication skills and anger management. The art of storytelling is also about organising one’s thoughts cohesively. It is very similar to writing.”

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 9:32:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/sapna-book-house-celebrated-teachers-day-with-the-launch-of-j-manaswinis-book-launch-and-a-discussion-on-education-in-india/article7625224.ece

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