Hull wasn't dull, though it was freezing

TRYING INDIAN OUTFITS: Abraham John with a couple of students posing in `Indian' attire.

TRYING INDIAN OUTFITS: Abraham John with a couple of students posing in `Indian' attire.  

Indian academic says UK teaching methods can be adapted to the Indian context

Dhanya Parthasarathy

CHENNAI: `It is never dull in Hull," was the billboard that greeted Abraham John, vice-principal of Crescent School, Vandalur, when he was in Hull, as part of the British Council's International School Award Programme.

The school head spent a freezing 10 days at the mentor Kelvin Hall School, at a time when children were laughing and squealing outdoors, hurling snowballs at each other.

"Everybody was curious about India," he says. When he went to take a class, children were keen to learn about more about the weather, the clothes, and even the recent tsunami. Children in the school excitedly tried on the saris and kurtas he had taken along with him. He says he had a tough time coaxing them out of the clothes.

Mr. John was fascinated to find that every child from class VI to XI knew the fundamentals of the five world religions — Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism. "In fact, the classroom where religion is taught looks like a inter-faith pooja room with several pictures of Hindu gods."

Some of the teaching methods are worth adapting in the Indian context, he says, especially, the importance given to art and craft. "There is hardly any lecturing, and children are allowed to ask any number of questions. All teachers prepare lessons well in advance and give computer presentations," he says.

Cars in India

"I don't know if it was a mischievous question or an innocent one — but a child asked me whether there were cars in India. I had armed myself with a power-point presentation of modern India with her skyscrapers and fighter planes and shopping malls, which I showed the children."

Mr. John was taken aback to see all the publicity on child abuse and the hotlines for children. "It is perhaps because of many shaky marriages and the escalating number of divorces in the U.K. I think these hotlines and posters are a way of making children feel secure in their homes," he adds.

Indian food

"Indian food is popular with all the children. Almost everyone had eaten our food and were familiar with chapathis and tandooris. I found their food very bland — low on salt and chillis," he says.

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