YOUNG WORLD

Dolls, teachers and better learning

Exotic dolls in school make for improved learning and as some teachers discovered the more the merrier.

JOHN.L.PAUL

A LEGACY OF DOLLS: Children enjoy the lovely dolls at the school. Photo: H.Vibhu

A LEGACY OF DOLLS: Children enjoy the lovely dolls at the school. Photo: H.Vibhu  

The Greets Public School, Kaloor, may be the only one of its kind in the country to have a collection of hundreds of exotic dolls. With over 250 dolls of various types, mostly imported ones, piling up in the residence of its founder-president, Edith Virginia Greet, the school authorities are in the process of setting up a `Greets Doll House' in the main school building.

"The big hall will house just the dolls. They will be arranged in a specific order, so that visitors will be able to learn about the nations they were manufactured in and the tale that each doll has to say," says Mr Thomas Vadakkekut, Vice President and Chief Executive of the school.

"Apart from the huge variety that we have, twenty more boxes are on their way to the dolls house, from the U.S.", says Ms Greet.

A native of the US, settled in India since 1947, she is now 85 years of age and is fondly referred to by one and all as `Greets Aunty'.

A spinster, her first love is children, followed by dolls and plants. Visitors to her house are welcomed by a whole array of dolls, lined up in the front room.

The curious thing is that no two dolls are the same. Apart from the conventional princesses and puppies, there are quite different ones like a rabbit on a rocking chair, pigs of different sizes, a horse carriage and even a white skeleton. The three-feet model of a princess who resembles Cinderella is very attractive.

Some of the dolls clearly show the nationalities of people spread across the world.

"I collected dolls all my life and had given most away. The rest is the legacy; I am leaving behind for the 200 children from financially deprived backgrounds we are looking after in Kothamangalam.

I want to organise a puppet seminar in 2006, to teach students how puppets are made," says Ms Greet. Having been brought up in an orphanage in the US, she set up one in Kochi, after her arrival here. Many of the inmates are now well settled abroad, after being adopted by foreigners.

"The orphanage later developed into Ding Dong Nursery, among the oldest in the city, which is still attached to the school. With time, parents began demanding higher classes and thus each year one class began to be added to the school.

The school now has classes up to class 12," she says.

"Setting up the school involved lot of hard work and tears, and I am proud of it. The biggest job is to keep the parents pleased. The land in Kaloor was purchased in the early 1950s. I took every day as it came and they were very challenging times for me," she reminisces.

The school's principal, Mr George Challithara says that the school believes in helping children discover their potential to the hilt. "Thus, we organised an arts and craft exhibition, which focussed on themes like good habits, the habitat, communication and the environment. We believe in `involved learning", he explains. With puppetry being in embryonic stage in Kerala, "a couple of specialists from the US are expected to teach its nuances to our students," he says.

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