What Did You Ask at School Today?
Author Kamala V Mukunda’s book ‘What Did You Ask at School Today?’ gives an insight into the predicament of the Indian parent, teacher and child.
Mukunda’s book is not a Chicken Soup, neither is it a manual for parents and teachers. “It’s a handbook that avoids a technique of using prescriptions to aid in educating children. Parents and teachers do not want 1-10 tips; they would like more information on how to support the kids because the answer is within the person itself”
Kamala Mukunda completed her Ph.D. in educational psychology from Syracuse University, and has taught at the undergraduate level in US colleges. Currently she is part of the alternate school known as Centre for Learning, on the outskirts of Bangalore. Apart from her academic pursuits, she takes a keen interest in music. After coming back to India in 1995, she heard that parents had a lot of questions, as to the why and how their child was learning. “I kept connecting it to what I learnt in theory. Educational material like research articles and textbooks; and educational psychology wasn’t in an easily accessible form and the jargons used were complicated. The good books written were in the US, and the UK. What I needed to do was to transcribe all that into easy understanding for the Indian population. The book is for parents, children, social workers, psychologists and counsellors. Even though some my older students are reading the book, it’s not something that I expected to happen” said Mukunda.
The book is insightful, well-researched book and has a lot of case studies for easier understanding. The author calls for a dramatic change in approach towards school teaching. The skill of being able to ask the 'right questions' is far more important than giving the right answers, says Mukunda, and urges teachers to adopt good teaching practices and an open mind towards the learning process of a child.
Photo:What Did You Ask at School Today? Published by Harper Collins
“Parents should be more actively involved in asking questions if they do not agree with the system. The system involves testing a child right from pre-school days, and parents can put pressure on the school though not in a combative fashion. If the parent feels that this is not suiting their children, they can raise questions. Because the amount that children have to know by the time they are 15 or 18 is too much. People on top have recognized that the pressure is too much and changes are being made, and pre-school curricular has to be more child friendly.” said Mukunda. She also suggested that parents can look for schools that are more sensitive to the needs of the students.
Mukunda made a shift to study Psychology after completing her B.Sc Physics. Her father was a physicist, after someone suggested Psychology and a development of fascination for the subject she decided to do her MA Psychology. About the shift Mukundan said, “I did the right thing for sure”.
About the role that the internet and technology plays in a child’s life Mukunda said, “it does take them away from the outdoors, and the problems can have many levels. Projects become copy paste, and they fail to realize that the best source of information is the use of people. It takes some training to use the internet wisely, and the teacher has to be a big part of it.”
‘What Did You Ask at School Today?’ by Kamala V Mukunda’s is available in all leading book stores