The art teacher played by Aamir Khan in Taare Zameen Par goes out of his way to make school interesting for his students. Primary teachers in Madhya Pradesh will have to partly play that role because storytelling has been made compulsory to improve language skills of Class I and II students.
The Bhopal-based Rajya Shiksha Kendra has issued a circular to district education officers, asking them to include storytelling not just in classrooms but also in non-educational activities of Class I and Class II students, and invite parents and elders who live nearby to tell stories in the local dialect.
“Recall your childhood. Do you remember any storyteller? Who was telling you stories? Was it your father, mother, grandmother, or your siblings? Do you remember those tales? Why did you like them? When was the last time you told a story? Was it based on your experiences or was it fictional,’’ the circular asks teachers. It describes tales as an end, not means, and a valuable resource in teaching.
The circular cites the example of a teacher in Morena district who has connected with students of Class I and Class III by telling stories every week. He uses the style of a kathavachak (preacher) to narrate the descriptive part of the story and uses different voices and facial expressions to play characters and express emotions.
The teachers will be able to source stories from newspapers, children’s magazines, folklores, or even create their own. “Smile when you enter the classroom. Make the children sit in circles or semi-circles, use simple language, and be confident,’’ are among the instructions.
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The circular mentions a woman teacher from Sagar who encourages students to hear stories from their family members or relatives and tell them in classroom after practising at home for a week.
“Avoid storytelling when students are in a mood to play,’’ reads another instruction. “Avoid asking what they learnt from the tale’’ is another instruction. Teachers are asked not to impose moral values but let students only enjoy the story and the session.