UNDERSTANDING CHILDREN’S WORLD, pp. 487-519, Pathik Basu, ed., Kolkata, Sharayan, 2007
This pedagogical article is meant for the primary as well as primary Bengali school-teachers, who are introducing Bangla alphabets to the children below six years. The strategy adopted here for introducing target language graphemes to the Bengali children is altogether different from the usual cultural practice of introducing Bangla alphabet with sequential Sanskrit phonetic order of things that creates ambiguities and confusion in the mind of learning-subjects as there is no strict one-to-one correspondences between Bangla speech sounds and traditional graphemes. There may be one-many or many – one or zero – one (or vice versa) correspondences. Therefore, altogether different approach is being taken to teach language art by introducing art samples already available in the Bengali culture. The simple contours of Alpana (‘ritual painting in the floor of the house’ mainly practiced by Bengali women at the time of religious festival; the term denotes ‘to coat with’. The idea of using Alpana in the context of learning is taken from the understanding of Satyajit Ray’s Bangla calligraphy.) is introduced after teaching straight lines, adjoining straight lines with dots, triangle, rectangle and circle respectively. All the shapes are formed either by the way of drawing or by using clay. These basic shapes are gradually metamorphosed into the graphemic shapes, which is a strange and a new experience to the child learner, on the basis of their homogeneity, e.g., sounds like b, r, k, dh, jh etc. with their atomic triangular shapes or o, t, ou, oi with the basic circular shapes are put together with the contours of ‘alpana’ for executing learning process. Along with this artistic learning, songs containing the sounds related to graphemes are sung with few musical instruments. Later on stories are told and performed as a play (both teachers and students participate in the extempore dramas and relevant musicking) with a view to write stories in the latter stage of learning Thus the whole process has become a joyful bi-way ‘learning’ process rather than that of one way ‘teaching’.
In all the cases, the learning process, apart from its context-specific lingua-aesthetic content, depends on the prior knowledge of the linguistic features of Bangla language. By anticipating phonetic features, phonological rules and child language acquisition theory, the whole (open) text was build up with the help of a Bengali child-learner. He started drawing when he was 3 years old and he finished learning graphemes within one and a half years. In case of above six-year old illiterate learners, it took 20 to 25 days to learn almost all the Bangla graphemes along with few allographs, if s/he is taught in this way.) The redundant and opaque clustered graphemes are avoided in this phono-centric lingua-aesthetic direct learning process.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: alpana, grapheme, language art, lingua-aesthetics, learning process, un-/de-schooling
Accepted Paper Series