Hello from India.... A little bit about us...

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Joined: 22 Mar 2006
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:58 am
PostPost subject: Hello from India.... A little bit about us...
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Hi, I work with a non- profit based in Gurgaon, India called Search Years. Take a look at our site: www.searchyears.org

I found puppetools through a link from a research paper on New Horizons
for Learning website, also something I have discovered recently. I have
been looking into finding research that backs up the use of creativity
and creative tools in the learning process for children, as we are planning
to open a creative learning centre here in Gurgaon, Haryana, India for the
local underserved children. I was hoping to find research that strengthens
our standing on the importance and need for this.

I have been reading as much as possible from both your website and New
Horizons, and have been amazed at how much is out there- especially as
in India it is much more rare to find like-minded organisations! It has been
great to know that there is a forum and network of people doing the same
kind of work that we can learn from and have a process of exchange with.

We have used puppetry as a tool and language since our inception 8 years
ago, when we were running ‘event to event’ through our hard-working
volunteers. This year marks the beginning of Search Years as a full time
organisation and we hope to have a series of projects running continuously.

We have been championing the use of puppetry as a tool in ‘formal
education’, and a few years back held teacher training for primary
school teachers on the use of Japanese panel theatre and puppets into curriculum.
At the moment we are training children up to be puppeteers and perform
certain productions as a mode of communication to other children on social and environment issues.

We are currently putting together a proposal for using creative tools,
of which puppetry will be a main one, for teaching math in rural Rajasthan.
Teachers there have identified a list of core problems that their students
(age 6-9) are having difficulty in that they would like us to address.

We are very interested and excited in having an active partnership with
this network and hope that this is the beinning of a long-lasting relationship.

Any advice from you would be greatly appreciated.


Search Years Team!
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Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 206
Location: Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 8:03 pm
PostPost subject: Welcome Search Years
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Payal, greetings and welcome again!

I share your excitment. The puppetools project needs active and energized partners. If you are serious about this as you say you are, (whether it be play language or puppet theater), then I propose that you begin a completely new thread in the forum dedicated to Search Years explorations and activities. I think it's important for others to see how one organization can apply the medium over time. You can call it the Search Years Project: India or any other name you choose. Just let me know if you want to do this. Tell me the name of the Forum you want, and I will set it up for you. Consider it your professional playground.

Anything you can do to let us know why you are so committed to puppetry would be interesting reading because I think it's important for people to see the universal appeal and impact of the medium through a window on education that opens halfway around the world.

I would be very interested to know what kinds of things you learned over the course of eight years. That's a long time and a lot of experience with a medium that most people or organizations normally have a fraction--or no experience--of whatsoever.

Some advice I always offer upon starting--especially to those who have been using a 'theater model.'

I think the idea of training children to be puppeteers (what age are the puppeteers?) to other children is a useful model, but I always question its value. One model I am familiar with involves middle or high school students presenting puppets to younger students--although this does not a theater model. The puppetools methodology of choice involves using the puppets without theater or tightly followed script. As I have written elsewhere, the 'theater model', unless executed professionally, always loses the edge of communication that can be maintained and when the puppets are used interactively in the classroom space without the theater.

Unless kids are being coached consistently in puppet movement, voice clarity and diction, and unless the teachers have a lot of time to rehearse and re-play specific parts of the script and production, you run the risk of producing a performance that can lack action (too much talk), language that's compelling and easy to follow, and often not loud enough. There are other factors, but those are the biggest problems. This is not to criticise anybody or anything. I'm just saying that these things aren't big issues, and they are more easy to manage when they are, when a theater is not involved. Indeed, people who perform puppet shows regularly can run into these problems. It is not easy to create a well-executed puppet show even for adults.

Having said that, I would not rule the puppet show format out altogether; obviously there are many aspects of doing this sort of production that are truly challenging and educatonal. However, unless you're in love with the technical challenges of theater, enormous amounts of time and energy can be saved by skipping a full theater model. Given your experience, I suggest you consider what I am saying, but make the decision that's best for you and Search Years.

Please tell us what sorts of 'social and environmental' issues you have been addressing through the puppets, and what your shows have looked like, what kinds of things have worked for you--and which haven't. That might be an interesting baseline we can build on.

Let me know if you'd like a Forum of your own. I am looking forward to working with you and your staff.
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