Author: Gijubhai Badheka (1885-1939)
Publisher: Prakashan Samsthan, 1999
No. of pages book contains: 87
Price of the book: Rs.100.00
Divaswapna is a story, written by Gujarat’s famous educationist and teacher, Gijubhai Badheka (1885-1939). The same year, Kashinath Trivedi, the well-known educationist of Madhya Pradesh, took the initiative to publish Divaswapna in Hindi. Trivediji had learnt from Gandhi that right action requires untiring patience for its success. His dream of seeing Gijubhai’s writings on education widely disseminated has come a little closer to fulfillment today. But the dream of bringing about a change in education can materialize only after a prolonged struggle along the line in which Gandhi, Tagore, and Gijubhai had moved. The educational theory propounded by all three of them emphasizes the child’s need for an atmosphere of independence and self-reliance. Gijubhai gave ’this idea an institutional basis by establishing his Bal Mandir in 1920, and in his writings he identified the different facets of the idea.
Divaswapna is a story of a teacher Laxmiram who rejects the orthodox culture of education. He remains enthusiastic towards children and continues to experiment while consciously neglecting the traditions of teaching and prescribed textbooks. The theoretical background of his experiments lies in Montessori, but his preparation and implementation are thoroughly local.
The book was first published in Gujarathi way back in 1932. Strange that the struggle for improvement of primary education was started long back and still there is so much to do. The book tells a fictional story of a teacher who seeks permission from the education officer to conduct experiments related to education on 4th std students.
Trying to swim against the current by purposefully shunning the orthodox methods of education he faces many difficulties. He is largely disappointed to see theoretically ideal things were not so easy to implement practically. He then devises various creative and intelligent ways to help teach children in a completely new way.
Teacher has used creative methods of teaching. One thing that I liked very much is the way he goes into the details of his experiments and I am amazed at how nicely he devises ways to solve the problems that are confronted due to the syllabus that is mandated for him to teach. The best part which I liked is the way he teaches grammar to students by helping them understand the core concepts and caring of pupils towards their personal hygiene.
The Outline of the Divaswapna book highlights following points;
1. Teacher Laxmiram was eager to put his new plan into practice, eager to bring about peace and order in the class, eager to make classroom teaching interesting and win over pupils.
2. Beating does not make pupils to learn, everyone has been resorting to beating while teaching and the obvious results of this method are that the children have become uncouth, rude, restless and disturbed. His experiment is opposite to the beating method.
3. Book stresses that the Teacher must establish rapport with pupils before begins his experiments
4. Every Teacher need to prepare a plan of work (plan of action) for the next day for best results
5. The author highlighted importance of ‘Use of Story Telling method’ in brining effective change in the learning’s of children.
6. Before the Story telling Teacher drew a large circle on the floor and told his pupils to sit around this circle every day, this promotes equality among children and each children can see faces all children.
7. In the beginning of experiment the teacher had no support from his colleague teachers, headmaster and the Education Officer, but slowly and steadily he was able to convince them. The education officer was saying-Story-telling is not the current programme, How would teacher be able to complete the prescribed course of studies. Teacher Laxmiram convinced him that ‘the story telling is itself is the new method of teaching’.
8. Teacher made an attempt the pupils asked not to buy the text-books. Instead, collected an amount equal to the cost of these textbooks; and from the amount bought good interesting books. This helped to build up a library.
9. Initially tried to care pupils on their hygiene, but it took log time for changing, because the parents had refused to let pupils go to school bareheaded, no nail cuttings, parents had no time for sewing buttons. They had various domestic problems to cite as reasons for not doing so.
10. Author has shown the how the ‘Games are real education. Great powers are born on the playground. Games mean character building’
11. Teacher called a meeting of parents to explain to them the importance of games, to seek their cooperation in respect of cleanliness and order; he had invited about forty parents. Only seven gentlemen attended it. Initially it disappointed further it has helped teacher to implement new methods to change parental attitude.
12. Stories, games, library, model reading, attention to personal hygiene and orderliness of pupils -all this took up about two months of time, he reviewed the work done, he had not done anything about the prescribed syllabus in language, arithmetic, history, science, etc.
13. The methods Storytelling, Games, Library building and Model readings made children don’t run away from him. They love him, respect and obey him, whereas the boys of other classes run away from their teachers. He has seen them mimicking their teachers behind their backs. Not a single boy approaches his teacher with a smile or with affection. They sit in their classes silent, sullen and immobile and they indulge in mischief and quarrels when they go out of their classes. It is important Teacher has to give reasonable freedom to boys in this respect.
14. Teacher does not promote ranking system; he says ‘A person who can sing may sing out poems. He may try to recall the words when he forgets them. A person who doesn’t know a game may observe others’ and learn; and one who is good at a game may play for the pleasure of it. A child with a good handwriting may serve as a model to others who would like to improve their own. Those who are good at doing things can always teach others who are not so good. He used the sentence “Our class is something quite different, something new. We blaze a new trail. This is our class!” Teacher emphasized the words “our class’, repeating the words a couple of times. The boys picked it up. “Our class, children replied “It is something different, something new.” This developed “We feeling” among children’
15. Teacher met the Education Officer said to issue an order that every child attending the school must have clean clothes on; their caps must be clean, if they wear caps. Hair must be well groomed. Nails must be clipped every week and they should have a regular haircut. Clothes should have proper buttons. Students must have a bath or at least a wash before they come to school. But Education Officer did not agree of his request due to social customs.
16. Teacher from his part strived to bring about whatever improvement he can do in the school, trained up children to form new habits. He bought two brooms and paid for them himself. He bought a small mirror, a comb, a piece of khaddar cloth and a small pair of scissors. Luckily there was a water tap in the school compound. He made all preparations in the class and made the boys stand in a line. They were quite willing, for they loved him. They had realized that he was doing something, which they liked and was beneficial to them. He asked them to look at their faces in the mirror and said, “Those who feel that their faces, eyes or noses are dirty may go to the water tap and wash them. They should wash their hands and feet also and wet their hair a little, went to class after every boy had finished having a wash. He gave them the comb and asked each of them to comb hair as best as they could. Everybody was clean and looked bright and fresh. This activity shows that ‘Teaching and maintaining Personal Hygiene is an integral part of education’.
17. Author has opposed the religious preaching, the philosophical basis of a religion, which is very mystical and takes a lifelong effort to understand. Such religious information is a lifeless body, now is it because the parents have no time for religious discourses or is it because the elders have had their day, for whatever the reasons. Is that why the buck has been passed on to the schools?” Children like to play; they enjoy stories, they do not like religious preaching.
18. Teacher Laxmiram used Story telling method to teach History, this method inspired Education Officer and he felt to introduce this method of teaching history in other classes also.”
19. He presented plays from his class pupils during Commissioner’s visit to school, plays were very enthusiastic. Plays were selected immediately and were dramatizations of the stories they have read and heard. They were told that the plays would be presented without any preparation just as we perform them every week in our class. He says - the boys are not required to memorize their parts. They know the story. Every character knows his role and specks on the stage spontaneously bearing in mind the context. There is no memorization. Props and costumes are secondary things. We lay greater emphasis on expression and acting. When costumes and props are removed, the play depends for its effectiveness only on the acting and the ingenuity of the children, and these get full scope for development. You can judge from what you have seen here how far we have succeeded. Children enjoy this kind of activity. They need neither praise nor reward because the satisfaction and fulfillment and the activity are one.
The Commissioner appreciated the work done by the Laxmiram.
20. Laxmiram went through the syllabus in grammar; he felt he would not be able to proceed in the matter suggested. Definitions of nouns and verbs could be memorized but these definitions would mean nothing to the learners, he said good-bye to the current practice in teaching grammar. He used new for teaching grammar, prepared a plan. He devised an interesting game for them and within two months they had learnt to recognize and identify nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs and adverts in a sentence. They understood the distinction between the singular and the plural and between the masculine and the feminine genders. He was planning to take up recognition of the subjects and the objects when the Education Officer paid a visit to his class, one day. He expressed satisfaction about the method used for teaching grammar.
21. He developed in pupils the command over the language, of the ability to narrate, a test of memory and acting through the method of story telling
22. Laxmiram brought box contained information as to how many books had been read by each pupil of his class during the past six months. Each page had the name of the pupil at the top and, blows it; the pupil had entered in his own handwriting, the names of books read by him. Towards the end of the notebook, he had worked out some figures namely the total number of books read by the pupils and the total number of pupils; the average number of books read by a pupil; names of pupils who had read the highest and the lowest number of books, etc. He had also noted which books were most popular and which were least popular. Books read by pupils had been classified subject wise indicating preferences of the boys for subjects. The Education Officer saw all this and he was surprised. He was happy for so many books have been read by the boys! And on so many subjects. Children read under the supervision of Laxmiram. The Education Officer asked the headmaster, “How many books have been read by the pupils of the seventh standard of your school during the past six months?” Headmaster replied “How can they read so many books of this kind? If they read such books, where would they find the time for regular study of history, geography, geometry, etc.?”
23. He brought the manuscript magazine prepared by the pupils, all those articles were written by pupils, and he did not make any changes or corrections in what they write. They are published in the same form they were written in.
24. The Education Officer was pleased of Laxmiram’s experiment, he opined “Quite a difficult, you are doing exceedingly well. What a fine achievement in six months I”
25. He invited the drawing teacher of the high school. He told him, he doesn’t want to teach boys how to draw. The students picked up a thing about the technique, coloring a drawing.
26. One day he invited a surveyor friend of his and requested him to prepare the plan of the school after taking the measurements of rooms, etc. He began to take measurements. The students moved along observing us. He demonstrated how a plan of a building could be drawn on paper. Laxmiram took the boys to the surveyor’s office for a few days to show them how draftsmen drew maps of streets, villages, forest areas, etc. The boys began to draw the school building, their houses, classrooms, a well or a lake, etc.
27. One day he brought binoculars from the high school. He showed the boys how one could see through the binoculars the objects, which were far away. The boys were surprised. They spent the whole day taking turns to look through the binoculars. And he brought a telescope one night to observe planets and stars.
28. He arranged for some trips to villages, to rivers, to hills, to the outskirts of the villages and let them inquire into past history of those places. This helped children to develop their knowledge.
29. The author felt that in the teaching of arithmetic change is needed. But the change needed is fundamental. Proper methods should be followed right from the stage the child begins to learn counting. Arithmetic is such a subject that if the concepts are not clearly understood, the student remains weak throughout.
30. The author has also named some pupils those have difficulties in some subjects, He says-It is not that they are unfit for the school. Rather, this school is unfit for them. The school is unable to teach them what they have the aptitude for.”. This shows need of concentrating upon ‘children having difficulties in readings and writings.
31. In the end of the book author described about the prize distribution. Every year prizes worth Rs.l25 were given. The amount was to be distributed among the bright students. The Director of Education got up and said in his usual manner; “he consider today’s function to be different from the usual. This gentleman sitting by his side has given a new lesson in respect of prizes. He is not going to give away the amount of Rs. 125 to different individuals. He proposes to give that entire amount for opening a library in the school in the name of the gentleman who gave me this new lesson. He was glad to inform that the higher authorities have approved of such an arrangement and every year the amount of the prize money will be utilized to build up the library. Giving prizes individually gives rise to false pride and disappointments. The new arrangement for prizes is such that it benefits all concerned. He publicly thanked the gentleman who showed the futility of the prize system and showed him a better way of utilization of the amount.
“The primary purpose of a school is to guide the child’s discovery of his or herself and his/her world and to identify and mature the child’s talents. Just as each seed contains the future tree, each child is born with infinite potential. In the article he suggests that many teachers and parents try to be potters instead of Gardeners in moulding their children’s future.” Imagine a school in which sees children as seeds to be nurtured-here the teacher is a gardener who tries to bring out the potential already present in the child. The author Gijubhai Badheka in Divaswapna has made an attempt to explain possible areas for developing knowledge and learning skills of a pupil which intern helps all round development of the child.
Project Director, Kalike, An Initiative by Sir Ratan Tata Trust.
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