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Newsletter, Issue 8; Yr 20-21

Hello all,

Today is ‘International Day of Democracy’.

I take this opportunity to introduce you to Yaccov Hecht, Israeli Educator and Pioneer of Democratic Education. In 1987, he founded first democratic school in Israel. Thereafter, he helped founding 30 more democratic schools in Israel. 

Just think how the old traditional hierarchy is always trying to find out who is the best among us… and I think this is a bad idea. It is not the best, the greatest, but different that is beautiful. I don’t want to see if someone is better or not better than me: I want to learn if something is different. That, from my point of the view is at the core of what we call democratic education.
- Yaacov Hecht

Do watch this small You-Tube video whenever you get time.

This week’s attractions
  1. World Literacy Day
The discussion started with what is literacy. Children had different ideas. We thought its the best to check the dictionary meaning. Some of the children were quiet unaware that adults and elderly, too, can be illiterate. They just thought the Kindergarten/pre-scoolers are the ones who cannot read and write. This discussion led to stories of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule - Savitribai Phule and Maharshi Karve. The condition of women and so-called ‘untouchables’ was found to be shocking and those of whom who fought for their support were inspiring too.

2. Why 360 degree?
Though many of the learners knew that the complete angle around the center of circle/ dot is 360 degree, the question of ‘where this figure of 360 came from’ was very intriguing. A lot of imagination, discussion, contemplation and dig into history brought a little clarity on this issue. The question was also taken back home, debated, led to still different questions. Yes, it was very interesting to watch children engage in this activity

3. Brush Painting
The activity explored in art corner and enjoyed by each and everyone was brush painting. This was conducted in batches. A 6-yr old, who did it in first batch facilitated the activity for second batch, with the same grace and poise of an adult. These art pieces were then preserved and used as base for Goal-setting activity

4. Play with tyres and innovative games
With increasing population at LC, the flavor of games is also seen changing. Children were seen innovating the games too. Once we spotted children keeping tyres standing one in front of others, followed by hurdles and ball was thrown through tyres, over hurdles into a chair. 
Once, all the tyres were stacked one above other and children enjoyed jumping from the track on the mats.

The usual battle game was also converted into group battle once, where teams of boys and girls were demonstrating power.

5. Hindi Diwas
Monday, September 14, is celebrated as Hindi Diwas. It was a unanimous decision to conversate in Hindi with each other. We all, unfortunately, struggled and for want of better words, formed some on our own. Some laughed, some reminded each other to speak only in Hindi, some got really frustrated. 

6Collage making
This started with making an edible home-made (or should I call centre-made?) glue, with help of Maida and water. Children tried hands-on cutting paper, pasting small pieces, honing creativity skills. 

7. Jungle gym painting
Last leg of jungle gym painting got over today. The entire painting work from top to bottom was done by children. Our job was limited to mixing colour and turpentine, handing brushes to painters, and cleaning the human bodies and floor with turpentine at the end of the day. Few of them had paint all over the body/clothes/hair. 

At the end today, the facilitators gave a final touch to the work.

An interesting conversation around painting activity:
We generally finished our morning circle, newspaper time, sessions before mid-day and later the painting activity would start.One day,one learner raised an issue asking, ‘if later part of day was to be invested in painting, then when would they get chance to play?’ 
Such a valid question. Principle of democracy was applied, and those who wished to paint, joined painting, rest spent their time as they wanted.

8. Friday activities
This Friday, a pair made oats. There was a huge goof-up in how much oats to be taken and how much water to be added. It was so easy and so tempting to ‘Teach’ them how to do it. But, it is so difficult and yet so important for the child’s learning to let him/her experiment, make mistake and allow improve. We tried to hint, saying, ‘there are 8 people. How much water is suggested for one cup?’ etc. 
And we waited, ate, and witnessed the criticism and suggestions extended towards the duo, and how gracefully they accepted it. 
Children have so less an ego and such a great capacity to learn!

9. Goal setting
This monday, being mid-month, we thought of inducing everyone again to set goals for next two weeks. Different learners, different goals. Few selected as many as 8, few were happy sticking to 3. Some wish to read books, some want to try zentangling, some want to play casio, some help at home, and some want to plant and grow and raise money for LC. 
Frankly, last time we did goal setting was in month of July. Its easy to set goals, but very challenging to act and review and keep at it. As facilitators, we too, are experimenting and learning.

Some did not attend sessions today (Tuesday). When asked ‘why skipped’ they were very thoughtful and fearless to answer that, ‘if the time is spent in sessions, when would they work towards their goal. This too is a valid point. 

We will keep you updated what happens to these goals.
Weekly meeting and morning circle
  1. An interesting question asked by one is, ‘why do children fight with the parents as they turn 12?’ We are planning to take a link hereon and initiate a discussion around Teenage, Puberty, et al
  2. 10 september was ‘Suicide prevention day’. When asked ‘what suicide means?’ Some were aware of the meaning and also used words like depression. Others too, though not exactly aware about the term, knew of the current incident of Sushant Singh Rajput. The discussion led to different emotions. We asked everyone when they feel sad, and received various answers, like, when they dont get whatever they want, when parents scold, when friends fight, when they themselves talk ‘insulting to near and dear ones.
  3. It was noticed that in absence of some people, discussions were happening. Someone expressed the discomfort of this act. It was questioned, why is it wrong to talk that way? Answer given was, ‘when we speak in front, the person gets a chance to correct or defend’ whereas when we talk on back, there is no such chance. Some were convinced, some were not convinced.
  4. Later discussion started about Mr. Narendra Modi. Then, one of the learners commented, ‘Modi is not here rt now, we cant talk about him’. :-)
  5. Since it was a democracy day today, we all discussed what is democracy? Since different people had different ideas, we thought of going by dictionary meaning. Discussion extended about who forms the rules/laws? If the group is bigger, over thousand, how do we set rules? (Elections)? Someone said its like having students, teachers and principal, then who is like principal for country? (Mr Narendra Modi) Then who are teachers? (Whether MPs or CMs?) Do you like democracy? (yes, we get to say what we want) What is problem in democracy? (Minority’s wishes not addressed) Can we change rules? (Petition filing) What is opposite democracy and which countries follow that (Communism, Monarchy, etc)
  6. Newspaper discussion - Interesting stuff happening in space, issues of migrants, Shark ashore, Turtle eggs, Marine conservation, Australian protest against lock-down, etc.

On Saturday, we met three families whose children are coming for trial period. It was very interesting to address their queries, understand the anxieties, talk about the philosophy. Everytime we do it, we remember our old days, how we all have gone through all this.

We are hopeful that at least one of them will join the Sadhana LC family.

This is all for the week.
Stay tuned for the updates.