As (S)talker is deeply interested in de-/un-schooling, his concern for children leads to a pedagogical project. A primer was developed and it is meant for the primary Bengali facilitator, who were introducing Bangla alphabets to the children below six years. The strategy adopted here for introducing target language graphemes to the Bengali children was altogether different from the usual cultural practice of introducing Bangla alphabet with sequential Sanskrit phonetic order of things that create ambiguities and confusion in the mind of learning-subjects as there was no strict one-to one correspondences between Bangla speech sounds and traditional graphemes. There might be one-many or many-one or zero –one (or vice versa) correspondences. Therefore, altogether different approach was 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 was taken from the understanding of Satyajit Ray’s Bangla calligraphy. Graphemes were introduced to children after teaching straight lines, adjoining straight lines with dots, triangle, rectangle and circle respectively. All the geometric shapes are formed either by the way of drawing or by using clay. These basic shapes were gradually metamorphosed into the graphemic shapes and that was a strange and anew experience to the child learner. Graphemes, on the basis of their homogeneity, e.g., sounds like b, r, k, dh, jh etc. with their atomic triangular graphemic shapes or o, t, ou, oi with the basic circular shapes were put together with the contours of alpana for executing learning process. Along with this artistic learning, songs containing the sounds related to graphemes were 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 had become a joyful bi-way “learning” process rather than that of oneway “teaching”. In all the cases, the learning process, apart from its context-specific lingua-aesthetic content, depended 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 built with the help of a Bengali child-learner. All thesketches of this open text were drawn by Master Akhar Bandyopadhyay (He starteddrawing when he was 3 years old and he finished learning graphemes within one and ahalf 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.
(S)talker provided an account of Satyajit Ray’s calligraphic techniques. Satyajit Ray designed two English typefaces, viz., Ray Roman and Ray Bizarre. (S)talker made another paper concentrating on Ray’s artistic playing with the Bangla graphemes as it was revealed in the cine posters and cine promo-brochures’ covers (This paper excludes book-cover designs by Ray). (s)talker found deep impact of
(a) Artistic pattern of European staff notation in the graphemic syntagms;
(b) Alpana in Ray’s graphemic representations.
Thus, so-called division between classical and folk art was blurred in Ray’s representation of Bangla graphemes (Cf. FOLK AND NON-FOLK: QUESTIONING THE DICHOTOMY Download (.pdf)). The three-tier X-height of Bangla graphemes was presented in a manner of musical map and the contours, curves in between horizontal and vertical meeting-point, follow the patterns of alpana. Authors also showed the metamorphosis of graphemes (This might be designated as “Archewriting”) as a living object/ subject in Ray’s artistic manipulation of Bangla graphemes. (s)talker also mentioned Ray’s calligraphic impact on the Bangla printing technology. Bengali children, when were to be introduced in the Language Art (especially Bangla writing system), might practice alpana with a festive mood for the easement of their finger-movements and for alpana’s affinity with the Bangla graphemes.
An archive of Bangla graphemes was made in collaboration with the Asiatic Society, Kolkata. (s)talker was the one of the principal investigators of this project.
For detailed discussion, kindly follow hyperlinks (blue-colored titles)
- (With Akhar Bandyopadhyay) “এও হয়: আঁকতে আঁকতে অক্ষর (Writing by Means of Drawing)” Ed. Basu, P.manus Hoye oTha (understanding Children’s World). Kolkata: Shrayan. (pp. 487-519) Download (.pdf)
- 2006-08. (With R.K. Roychowdhury and Sunanda Mukhopadhyay) Cyber Archive of Bangla Graphemes Download (.pdf)
- 2002. (With Sovan Tarafdar). “ছবি লেখেন সত্যজিৎ” (Satyajit Ray Writes Paintings)”. Dhrubapad. Yearbook-VI. (pp.392-417). Kolkata. Download (.pdf)
Digiart: Akhar Bandyopadhyay