The interaction, organized by the Essar Foundation for the students of the Kawle Math Municipality school at Banganga in south Mumbai, was designed to encourage the children to think out-of-the-box, increase their confidence and instill in them a creative zeal – all aspects that are undermined and almost absent in the regular prescribed educational curriculum.
Ms Mukhopadhyay was joined by the Foundation team and 10 MBA students from IES Management College, who are volunteering with the Foundation.
The theme of the activity was for the students to create a story only through movement, and without any speech. Ms Mukhopadhyay taught the children several body movements and tactile expressions to help build the story.
She also introduced the children to the concept of using ‘palm sticks’. She first assembled the children into groups and gave each child a stick, which they had to balance between their neighbors using their palms. The aim was to boost concentration and tensile balance.
The magic began with the next activity, where the children were directed to enact visual images in groups and play out scenarios without words. The children took to it with enthusiasm, ideating swiftly to portray various actions and ideas. They also enacted the bustle of the thousands of Ganesh idol immersions that happen every year at the city’s beaches as part of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
Ms Mukhopadhyay then distributed sheets of paper and colored pens to the students and asked them to ‘doodle’ the day’s learning or activities, without using words. The activity started off slow, but as the volunteers helped the children along, the doodles got more complex and expressive.
All in all, the day presented unique learning experiences for the children packed into fun-filled activities and interactions.
The Essar Foundation undertook the initiative as part of its education program that seeks to expose schools and educators to more holistic and creative methods of teaching to enhance retention and interest among students.
About Sananda Mukhopadhyaya
Sananda Mukhopadhyaya is head of the ‘Drama in Schools Program’ at Theatre Professionals. She believes in the importance of the arts in education and has been working in the field of drama and theater education for the last five years. She has developed expertise in curriculum and content development.
She worked at B. D. Somani International School, Mumbai, for four years teaching Theater Arts for the IB Diploma program and drama at the primary school. She works with institutions such as the Aurobindo Education Society, TERI and Teach for India to conduct workshops for children and adults on using drama as a tool for education. When not teaching, she works as a lighting designer and director with professional theater groups in Mumbai.
She recently staged ‘In the Cat House’, her directorial venture for children, at Mumbai’s Prithvi theatre.