SHIKSHAMITRA is a process for learning to live better. It is a space where one

learns to keep well and to help others keep well too. Shikshamitra has an address.

However, it goes beyond this – permeating into the lives of many, influencing

one’s choices in life and ways of life. To be associated with Shikshamitra is to assume

the responsibility of trying to live better. It is a continuous attempt to search for

activities that inspire life and build trust, or, it is an attempt to keep away from

anything to the contrary. Shikshamitra is a means toward becoming aware of

how much one can be and knowing exactly what one’s limitations are.

July 05, 2008

Reaching Out on Sunday

For a change of pace, we held a very informal Sunday Drawing & Writing Workshop on 22nd June from 10:30am to 12:30 pm for local community members to get to know a little bit more about our school and what we believe. There was one hour for Sudeshna’s writing corner and one hour for Maura’s art corner. There were 33 participants from five different local neighbourhood clubs. Though we invited eight clubs we got response from only five. All participants were school-goers, most in the age group of 10-15. We were surprised that three of our participants were less than nine years old, one who is in Class 1 and two from Class II.

In the Writing Corner, they were asked to write and draw whatever comes to mind after listening to a song. As they were not accustomed to this kind of exercise, it took a few minutes to actually realize what was happening. After a bit of time warming up, some of them did really well.

In the Drawing Corner they did one of our popular art exercises, known as Art Switch, which also appeared to be a new concept to them because there was no given theme or expectation of what they should put on the paper or create. The first group went wild and jumped into the spirit of the exercise, while the next group didn't grasp the flow so easily. We realized that it is important to conduct follow-up workshops if we want to unlock the creativity in the room!

We asked for feedback from the club secretaries as well as from the parents who were present, and this revealed that what took place was totally a new concept to them. They praised the group efforts involved in it. We had suggestions for the future, that this be a 2-3 workshop or that we offer dance workshops. Ms. Soma Dhar, who runs a coaching class, wanted to have a teachers’ workshop to gain the inputs of teaching from the trainers at Shikshamitra. She commented that she, “would like to put these kind of inputs into her own teaching at the coaching centre.”

There were a few parents who were not as happy because they were expecting their children to go home with some prizes, as is the case in most of the conventional “drawing competitions” held at schools. Here, we wanted the focus to be that everyone adds to the fun, and everyone was treated equally – so we had a lot of winners, and no losers! We tried to steer their mindset away from the idea of a competition, explaining that this is a workshop where participation counts. This was totally different from what they were accustomed to.

In the end, we also collected feedback from the participants and they seemed to go home quite happy. Mr. Sukhendu Santra, who used to work at Shikshamitra as a social worker and knows the children in the community very personally, handed out the certificates and a gift – a beautifully hand-decorated packet that included a book of Bengali stories created by the students of Shikshamitra – to the proud, if not somewhat magically perplexed, participants.

- shankar

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