Empathy Building Exercises

 
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searchyears



Joined: 22 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 4:05 am
PostPost subject: Empathy Building Exercises
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Delivery in the aided and Government schools at the floor board level is a morbid affair. Lack of resources & training, over populated classrooms, monotony of work, low teacher motivation - all lead to teachers’ resistance to teach.

The result is all too evident – lack of interest in learning amongst the children.

A random survey of two such schools in Gurgaon, falling in the National Capital Region, an IT hub of North India and the so-called New Millennium city, revealed these facts to support the above premise. Over 50% of the students are over-aged by at least two years for the grade they are studying. Of these, 80% have been detained for at least one year even before passing the middle school. 10% of the children drop out of the school. Of this 80% do so for the fear of dealing with teachers. 90% of the students in the middle school have problems understanding mathematics and cannot form ‘two word’ simple sentences in English despite a comprehensive curriculum. 95% children fear their teachers. 85% children in middle school remember one such teacher, who they admired because they liked her/his teaching style. And, 100% of students could read and write their names in English & Hindi. In the literacy-obsessed system, which has traversed the distance of ‘thumb impression' - to - signatures’ to establish one's identity in the sixty years since independence, there is still hope. And children are the torch bearers of this hope.

In September 2006, Search Years launched a program in Gurgaon, aimed to harness creativity in informal education. The objectives of the exercise were

a) to help build confidence,
b) improve power of expression,
c) break caste, religious, sex stereotypes & biases and establish team work amongst a heterogeneous community,
d) tickle imagination. In short, help children speak for themselves--an important quality that would enable young people to grow as mature adults, capable of self-advocacy.



Children from two different schools, one run by Sankalp, a partner NGO catering to the educational needs of the children of ‘migrant labor’, primarily from the slum cluster of Chakkarpur and the other from the Government Middle School, Sarai, a rural village under Bajgherha panchayat were selected.

Whilst Sankalp has a population mix of children of migrant labor having different lingual/ religious backgrounds, Sarai’s population consists of Jats and Muslims having distinctly visible caste, religious and sex biases. In both the areas, 35 children, mix of male and female, in the age group of 8 to 14 (a perceptive age range, when a child begins to form long lasting opinions on his environment, events and people) were selected to work in teams.




A curriculum structure of 16 weekends was prepared by the Search Years and two experts were allotted to train children. Activities through Puppets were designed to achieve the objectives and volunteers from Grow Talent, a firm involved in the business of Human Resource Development, helped in measuring the weekly development. We at Search Years, and Grow Talent have seen the children grow in confidence, in their power of expression, in articulation of their thoughts, in their ability to work in heterogeneous teams. We have seen them breaking caste, class, sex, religious barriers and biases.
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