Learning from First Generation School-Goers Summary Notes

Learning from First Generation School-Goers Author

Dr. Ramaswami Balasubramaniam, born on 4th May 1965 is a doctor, development scholar, author, public policy advocate, leadership trainer, and activist known for his pioneering development work with rural and tribal people in Saragur of Heggada devanakote taluk, near Mysuru in Karnataka. He founded Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM), a development organization based in Saragur when he was 19. He was the Frank H T Rhodes Profes¬sor at Cornell University between 2012and 2014 and continues to hold academic positions in other universities. His books ‘Voice from the Grassroots’and ‘i, the citizen’ are compilations of narratives and reflections of development activists and are now globally acclaimed. He is also the Founder and Chairman of the Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement (GRAAM). a public policy think tank based out of Mysuru. Inspired by the message of Swami Vivekananda. he sees his life’s mission as building a resurgent India by inspiring leadership in the youth of the country. The present essay is an extract from the book the citizen.

Learning from First Generation School-Goers Summary

Dr. RamaswamiBalasubramaniamis a development scholar, author, public policy advocate, leadership trainer and activist, and a medical doctor by profession. He is known for his pioneering development work with rural and tribal people in Saragur of Heggadadevanakote taluk near Mysore in Karnataka.

The given essay has been extracted from his book “I, the citizen”. Dr. Ramaswamy along with his friends had started a school for tribal children in 1988 at Brahmagiri near Mysore. In the beginning, the school had twenty-eight students. Today it is located in Hosahalli, Mysore, with more than four hundred students. They had started the school with unrestrained enthusiasm and goodwill, though none of them had any formal training in education.

The school made its humble beginnings in a cowshed. They had to make arrangements for the mid-day meal, which was a cooperative mission between the students and the tutors. The menu was always Ragi balls and sambar. Somebody went and collected firewood to cook, someone else wood cooks the Meals and others would take up the responsibility of serving and cleaning the utensils. The arrangement for mid-day meals took more time than teaching but they enjoyed the task.

One day, a seven-year-old boy, Manju had brought his kid sister Sunanda to school, since his parents were away. That day the boy was in charge of preparing the Ragi balls. The writer was aghast thinking there was another mouth to feed, with their meager resources. But Manju put his panic at rest. He had prepared the exact number of ragi balls needed for the twenty-eight students in the school. After serving all of them, he shared his ragi ball with his little sister and finished the meal.

Overcome by curiosity the writer took the boy aside and had asked him why he had not made one more ragi ball for his sister. The writer was overwhelmed by the boy’s values when he heard his reply. The boy offered an explanation that he did not want his classmates to share the burden of feeding his sister and so he had shared his own meal with her. The writer says that the boy’s reply still echos in his ears and that he had gained an important insight into the value system that the simple tribal people possessed. The writer felt that their values were more refined than the city-bred people.

The writer had been moved to tears at this great wisdom of the young child. It made him realize that instead of educating the tribal children at the school, the children were indeed educating him by getting him to unlearn all the selfishness that I had grown up with and making him understand that he needed to take responsibility for his actions and not transfer the burden onto society, his family and friends. It was helping him understand that there was a teacher in each person he met and in every event that took place around him.

The writer realized that the inherent values exhibited by Manju were learned from his people, his culture, and his family, who lived in harmony with nature and the forests and respectfully accepted whatever nature offered.

This life-altering incident left the writer pondering over the prevalent education system in India. He agrees that values constitute a greater part of education than the lessons contained in textbooks. He is rather skeptical saying that one cannot expect any school to impart the values and knowledge that the tribal children possessed. In his opinion schools merely provide a platform for children to acquire skills that help them to “integrate with mainstream society and make use of opportunities that the world out there has in store”

The author believes that school should not only prepare a child for a livelihood, but it must also inculcate values. School education must not be at the cost of making them forget what they already know (values). So the author thinks that it is sensible to strike the right balance between imparting school education and sustaining cultural values that children have already imbibed. The author regrets that he has come across instances where tribal people have been ignored because of their innocence (education) and on the other hand, they struggle to retain their tribal identity along with its values, ethics, and natural knowledge.

The writer narrates another incident from the early days of the tribal school, which reflects the vast knowledge that is inherent to the tribal children. In 1987, the government had allocated land for the tribal school. In their attempt to make their ‘dream school’, a reality, the teachers and the students were clearing the land. The task seemed monotonous and tiring to both. So in order to cheer up the children, the writer had suggested that each child count the trees on the campus and also get a leaf from each tree. After an hour the children returned with their ‘leaf bounty’ some of the children had collected up to fifty leaves, but Manju had surprised the author by bringing seventy leaves, each of different shapes and sizes. While counting the leaves the boy had explained to the writer “Which tree would shed its leaf first, which tree attracted the most bees and how drinking honey from the ‘Taare’ tree would cause temporary insanity”.

The writer was ashamed at his ignorance and for thinking that such tribal children who had so much inherent knowledge about nature, needed to be educated in a school. The writer felt that he could not have been more wrong.

Though they intended to educate the tribal children in the school, instead the tribal children taught them the indigenous knowledge, values, and philosophy of daily life which was quite a humiliating experience.

In the end, the author concludes that we should resolve not to let school education interfere with their (tribal children) inherent (inborn) education.

Learning from First Generation School-Goers Questions & Answers

Comprehension

Question 1.
Where did the Hosahalli school have its beginning?
Answer:
The Hosahalli School has its beginning in a makeshift arrangement in a cowshed in a hamlet named Brahmagiri in 198 8.

Question 2.
The center for learning was started due to the _______ and ________ of the communities.
Answer:
The Center of learning was started due to the unbridled enthusiasm and goodwill of the communities.

Question 3.
In what spirit was the school started?
Answer:
The School was started with the Spirit of Service inspired by the message of Swami Vivekananda, who saw his life’s mission as building a resurgent India by inspiring leadership in the youth of the Country.

Question 4.
What was the usual menu of the mid-day meals?
Answer:
Ragi balls and Sambar.

Question 5.
Who had come with Manju that day? Why?
Answer:
Manju had brought his kid sister, Sunanda to school, that day, because their parents had gone to the local shandy, a weekly mar¬ket, to sell their bamboo ware. He brought his sister with him to school, because he did not like to miss school and also take care of his sister.

Question 6.
What was the first thought that the narrator had on seeing Manju’s sister?
Answer:
“Oh my God!’’Another mouth to feed today!.

Question 7.
For how many people was the ‘meal’ coked?
Answer:
Twenty – eight people.

Question 8.
What value did the narrator learn from Manju?
Answer:
The author realized that he needed to take responsibility for his actions and not transfer the burden onto society, his family, and friends. He realized that he needed to unlearn his selfishness.

Question 9.
The narrator felt that there was a teacher in each per-son, True/False?
Answer:
True.

Question 10.
From where had the values of Manju come?
Answer:
Manju’s values came from his people, his culture, and his family who lived in harmony with nature and forests and respectfully accepted whatever there was to offer.

Question 11.
When does the school provide for the tribal children?
Answer:
The school provides a platform for the tribal children to acquire skills that would help them integrate with mainstream society and make use of opportunities that the world, which is diverse from their tribal environment, has in store.

Question 12.
What is the quality of the ‘Taare’ tree?
Answer:
The ‘Taare’ tree attracts the most bees. Drinking honey from the ‘Taare’ tree would cause temporary insanity.

Question 13.
Describe the responsibilities shared among children and adults for preparing the mid-day meals.
Answer:
Cooking and having lunch at the school was great fun with responsibilities being shared between children and adults alike. The writer, the teachers, and the children would make a consensual decision on the menu; which invariably would always be ragi balls and sambar, every day. A few of them would collect the firewood required to light up the hearth made of three stones. Some others would cut the few vegetables that they could manage to procure. The children offered their services to mold the cooked ragi flour into small balls called ‘mudde’. Some others would volunteer to serve and later clean the utensils.

Question 14.
The reply given by Manju resonated in the mind of the narrator. Explain.
Answer:
Manju had brought his kid sister, Sunanda to school, one day, because their parents had gone to the local shandy, a weekly market, to sell their bamboo ware. He brought his sister with him to school, because he did not like to miss school and also take care of his sister.

The author was alarmed because they had one more mouth to feed. That day, it was Manju’s turn to mold the ragi balls. As usual, he molded only twenty-eight of them and later shared his food with his sister. When the writer had curiously asked why he did not make the twenty-ninth ball for his sister, he replied that though it was his responsibility to feed his sister, he did not want his classmates to share his burden, so it was natural for him to share his food with his sister. The author says that his reply still resonates in his ears.

He was moved to tears as he tried to sink in the great wisdom coming from Manju, the young tribal child. The writer real¬ized that the school that they had established to educate the tribal children was indeed educating the writer himself by getting him to unlearn all the selfishness that he had cultivated from his childhood.

Question 15.
What insight did Manju give about the value system of the tribal people?
Answer:
The unselfish act and wisdom of the young tribal boy, Manju, helped the writer understand that he needed to take responsibility for his own actions and not transfer the burden onto society or his family and friends. He realized that each person he met had something to teach him. The society in which, Manju had been brought had inculcated these values in him from birth. His values had come from his people, his culture, and his family who lived harmoniously with nature and the forests and gracefully accepted whatever nature and forests had to offer. They were not selfish nor greedy. They had inculcated a five and let five policy in their lives.

Question 16.
How did the ‘school educate the narrator?
Answer:
The unselfish act and wisdom of the young tribal boy, Manju helped the writer realized how the school started by the writer and his friends was indeed educating him and getting him to unlearn all the selfishness that he had grown up with and also made him understand that he needed to take the responsibility for his own actions and not transfer the burden onto society and his family and friends. He realized that each person he met and every event that took place around him had something to teach him.

Question 17.
Narrate the incident which demonstrates the vast knowledge that is natural to the children of indigenous communities.
Answer:
The writer narrates an incident from the early days with the school they had started to educate tribal children. The Government had allotted land for the school in 1987.

They taught the children in the open under the shade of the trees on the land, allocated to them. Whenever they found time from the academic pursuit they used to work together to clear the shrubs to make space for their ‘Dream School’. One day, they were all working hard to clear the land and the children appeared to be tired and bored with the work. In order to cheer up the children, the writer had suggested that every child on their campus should try to count how many trees were on the campus and also get a leaf from each tree.

The children happily went off to count the trees and collect the leaves when they came back after an hour, some children had collected thirty to fifty leaves. Manju, the tribal boy, had collected nearly seventy leaves. He explained to the narrator, which tree would shed its leaf first and which tree would attract the most bees. The author was surprised to know the feet that Manju told him, that the honey from the ‘Taare’ tree caused temporary madness.

Question 18.
Examine the contribution of the two incidents, towards the narrator’s views about the tribal children.
Answer:
In the Essay ‘Learning From first Generation School – goers’ by Dr. R. Balasubramaniam, the narrator was greatly influenced by the inherent native wisdom of the indigenous children. The first incident that he narrates is that of his tribal boy, Manju.

The author was alarmed because they had one more Mouth to feed. That day, it was Manju’s turn to mold the ragi balls. As usual, he molded only twenty-eight of them and later shared his food with his sister. When the writer had curiously asked why he did not make the twenty-ninth ball for his sister, he replied that though it was his responsibility to feed his sister, he did not want his classmates to share his burden, so it was natural for him to share his food with his sister. The author says that his reply still resonates in his ears. He was moved to tears as he tried to sink in the great wisdom coming from Manju, the young tribal child.

The unselfish act and wisdom of the young tribal boy, Manju helped the writer realize how the school started by the writer and his friends was indeed educating him and getting him to unlearn all the selfishness that he had grown up with and also made him under¬stand that he needed to take the responsibility for his own actions and not transfer the burden onto society and his family and friends.

He realized that each person he met and every event that took place around him had something to teach him. The writer narrates an incident from the early days with the School they had started to educate tribal children. The Government had allotted land for the school in 1987. But they did not have enough resources to construct a school building. They taught the children in the open under the shade of the trees on the land, allocated to them. Whenever they found time from the academic pursuit they used to work together to clear the shrubs to make space for their ‘Dream school’. One day, they were all work¬ing hard to clear the land and the children appeared to be tired and bored with the work.

In order to cheer up the children, the writer had suggested that every child on their campus should try to count how many trees were on the campus and also get a leaf from each tree. The children happily went off to count the trees and collect the leaves when they came back after an hour, some children had collected thirty to fifty leaves, Manju, the tribal boy, had collected nearly seventy leaves. He explained to the narrator, which tree would shed its leaf first and which tree would attract the most bees. The author was surprised to know the feet that Manju told him, that the honey from the ‘Taare ’ tree caused temporary madness.

The narrator realized that the Children of indigenous communities possessed vast knowledge, about their environment which came to them naturally. The other felt that he was wrong in thinking that these children needed formal schooling. He realized that even those people who were formally educated in a school are ignorant of the indigenous knowledge, values, and philosophy possessed by those tribal children. The lessons were indeed not taught in any formal school. These values came from their own people, their culture, their family, who lived in harmony with nature and the forests. Who lived harmoniously with nature and the forests and gracefully accepted whatever nature and forests had to offer. They were not selfish or greedy. They had inculcated a live and let live policy in their lives.

Question 19.
Schooling should not interfere with inherent education. Discuss in the light of the narrator’s experience.
Answer:
Dr. Balasubramanyam had started a school in a village, Hosahalli in Mysore district, to formally educate the tribal children of the region The narrator confides that the experience of running a school and interacting with the children and their communities has more lessons than any textbook could provide.

The unselfish act and wisdom of the young tribal boy, Manju, who shared his lunch with his sister, Sunanda, and the vast natural wisdom and knowledge possessed by the tribal children about nature and forests, helped the author realize that one can never expect schools to impart the values and knowledge that the tribal children already seem to possess. The writer agrees that school does provide a platform for the children to acquire skills that would help them integrate with mainstream society and make use of the opportunities that the world out there has in store, but the author argues that school education should not interfere with the inherent knowledge and wisdom they already possess.

The author agrees that it is indeed a fine balance and a difficult one to strike between the two, because the tribal people are discriminated against and alienated by mainstream society, due to their lack of worldly knowledge. Moreover, the tribal people struggle to retain their identity and the accompanying values, ethos, and their natural knowledge. Hence the author strongly advocates the there is a need to ensure schooling does not interfere with the inherent education that the indigenous people already possess.

LANGUAGE COMPOSEST

Exercise

Question 1.
Write a letter of complaint on behalf of Mangalore Stores, Sampige Road, Malleswaram, Bangalore to Malnad Food Products, TirthaDi, Shivamoga District that the 12 honey bottles of the 24 consigned by the letter were received in a damaged condition and seek redressaL

COMPLAINT LETTER

                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Aug 2019
Mangalore Stores
Sampige Road
Malleswaram
Bangalore

Malnad Food Products
Tirthahalli
Shimoga district
Sir,

Sub: Your Consignment No – 91, Dated – 2 Aug 2019.

I regret that 12 bottles of honey of the 24 consigned by you were received in a damaged condition in transit because of insufficient and incomplete packing. We feel that usually, such mistakes happen because of oversight. But since we cannot sell damaged honey bottles to our customers, we have no choice, but to return these 12 damaged bottles of honey. We shall be grateful to you if you kindly replace the 12 honey bottles and send new ones at your earliest.

Sincerely
Manager
Mangalore Store

Question 2.
Write a suitable reply to the above

REPLY TO COMPLAINT LETTER

Malnad Food Product

Tirthalli,
Shimoga District

Mangalore Stores
Malleswaram
Sampige Road

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your letter dated 3rd Aug 2019. We are sorry to learn that you have been put to inconvenience owing to our mistake.

Your suggestion for replacing 12 honey bottles is most appropriate. We have dispatched them today by quick transit service. Hope these will reach you early tomorrow morning.

We are very grateful to you for drawing our attention to insufficient and incomplete packing. We have examined the working of our packing department and have introduced further quality checks to prevent the recurrence of such mistakes.

We further assure you that you will not be put to any such inconvenience in the future.
Sincerely
Distribution Manager

Question 3.
Write on behalf of Fitwell Furniture to Sri ram Woodworks that due to the inordinate delay in the supply of the chairs, they lost their order and goodwill. Cancel the order.

COMPLAINT LETTER DUE TO INORDINATE DELAY

                                                                                                                                                                                         4 August 2019
Fitwell Furniture
Rajajinagar
Bangalore -10

SRI RAM WOODWORKS
Saraswathi Puram
Mysore

Dear Sir/Madam

Sub: Inordinate delay in the supply of chairs.

I regret to say that the office chairs ordered by us on July 3, 2019, have not been received till today. We placed the order by clearly stating that the chairs should reach us on or before 29 July 2019. We also stressed the importance and reasons behind this.

The inordinate delay on your part has created an odd situation for us. Our association with one of our long-trusted customers is in dire straits and the reputation of our company is at stake.

Keeping in view the urgency, we request you to deliver the chairs immediately else we regret to say that we have to invariably cancel the order and look for another supplier who can supply the chairs immediately.

Yours faithfully
Mitrajith
Fitwell Furniture

Question 4.
Write a reply to the above assuring that these will not recur in the future.

REPLY TO COMPLAINT LETTER

                                                                                                                                                                                     5 August 2019
Sriram Wood Works
Saraswathipuram
Mysore

Fitwell Furniture
Rajajinagar
Bangalore -10

Dear Sir/Madam

Please accept our sincere apology for the delay in execution of your order date July 3, 2019.

Owing to a month-long strike in the factory, followed by power cuts in Mysore, the production has remained suspended for more than one month. This resulted in our feeling behind the delivery schedule. Kindly understand our position that circumstances were beyond our control.

We feel extremely sorry about this inevitable delay that has caused you inconvenience. Now the situation has changed. We are doing our best to execute the pending orders.

We hope you will be supplied with your office chairs before 7 August 2019.

Yours faithfully
Production Executive
Sriram woodworks

English Summary

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