Sunday, February 10, 2008

Taare Zameen Par

Yesterday I watched the movie 'Taare Zameen Par'. A good movie, very different from the 95% run-of-the-mill movies churned out by ?ollywood. A good attempt to bring to light some of the ignorance on learning. So, it would be unfair to focus details on where are the storyline slumped.

I have observed a lot of kids go through the state of lack of fine motor skill at various points in time. Adults also go through this problem temporarily due to lack of sleep or some medication.

I have seen a cousin, a very smart kid, often misspelling words when she was about 7-8 years old. Her parents and teachers were intelligent enough to see the actual problem and didn't fret over the "silly mistakes". Over a period of time, she was fine.

My son wasn't comfortable buttoning his shirt or tying the shoe-lace until he was about 9 years old. I tried teaching him to button his shirt when he was five and both left the training frustrated. He would always prefer shirts with no buttons and trousers with elastic. He started writing late and developed a very bad handwriting too. A correction program had to done when he was 10 years old. We also introduced him to games like pallankuzhi to help in fine motor skills and math.

A lot of these are hereditary. The problems can be traced back to the changes we have had in our education system.
  • The motor skills begin to develop at around 5 years of age. But most kids in India are in schools from age 3, trying to write.
  • Learning to write often started with writing it big - using a stick or fingers and write on sand or grains. In India, we don't have enough space to write on sand or grains.
  • Kids do not learn to write in mother tongue, but start with English - where the spelling doesn't always correspond to the pronunciation. This adds to the learning difficulties.
  • Rhymes and recitation help in learning more than reasoning and prose. Primary education system in India, doesn't given enough stress on this. (Remember the days when you would sing addition and multiplication tables in your mother tongue. They also helped to some extent!)
  • Games like pallankuzhi (பல்லாங்குழி) help in fine motor skills. Nondi (நொண்டி) is an outdoor game that helps in mind-body coordination. Do kids play these nowadays?
I hope I'll do something to improve the learning process at various levels .... planned for next year.