Poonam was invited by the Teacher Training Foundation to facilitate a session with teachers on helping students gain a different perspective on the three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). Through a highly charged and interactive 1-hour session, the 30 odd teachers from varied backgrounds (primary school, college etc) playfully competed with each other to sort waste and make paper cones! They also observed their inhibitions when asked to speak to an imaginary mango tree! All the while, we tried to understand what the teachers felt was important to teach their students about ecology, what they knew about it and how they actually taught it.
After a reading of our book – The Magic Gamla Pot – we shared our approach; that children (and adults alike) learn better when they learn that “they are a part of nature and not apart from it”. And then they are able to relate and associate simple everyday acts and products with large issues that the planet faces today.
As the stories about different materials unfolded, everybody realised how critical it was that citizens demand radical transparency from manufacturers, demand use of safer materials – and that teachers could truly empower the students to start the change.
We hope the teachers went back with some more ideas on how learning (and teaching) history, math, science could and must converge to learning (and teaching) how to live in an ecologically sensible way in our world. We for our part, came back energised with their enthusiasm to try.