Fun way to connect with history, culture

Fun way to connect with history, culture

In a room full of children, there is complete silence as all listen enrapt to the tale of The Missing Necklace of the Harappan Girl.

As Shubha Banerji narrates the tale, she also makes the children relate to the objects in the story and later sends them off in search of those objects in the winding annals of the National Museum.

“The result is when the young ones locate the sculpture of the ‘Dancing Girl’ from Harappa or the seals, they yell with happiness which makes me feel happy too,” says Shubha, the facilitator of one of the ongoing workshops at the National Museum.

Though the curator of the ‘Pre-Colonial and Western Art Gallery’, Shubha feels elated to conduct the workshop that has been specially curated as part of ‘Playtime at National Museum’ - workshops for summer vacations.

These are organised with the intent to make the children aware of their history in a fun and engaging way. This five-week series of youth-centric summer workshops aim at developing their skills and talent in various fields. 

The schedule includes painting workshops, story-telling sessions, clay-modelling and printmaking, besides learning an ancient script and decorative arts that will form the core activity for boys and girls in the age group seven to 17 years. 

While Shubha feels that these workshops help children to learn history in a non-formal manner, Raminder Banerjee, a mother of two daughters believes that, “Although we are trying to change the education system, still a lot of it is dependent on books and practical knowledge which kids gain through such workshops is what we should be focusing on.”

Her daughter Sheuli participated in the ‘Touch and Learn’ workshop where “the focus was on an old painting from Gujarat which the children could feel with their hands. She was later given sheets to trace and paint.

My younger daughter Tia also participated in a workshop and while both of them were occupied, I got a chance to visit various galleries in the museum,” she adds. It seems the children as well as parents are making the most of these workshops.

And why not, for how many of us still remember the evolution of an earthen pot and the discovery of agriculture which was by a woman! 

Conducting the ‘Clay Modelling’ workshop, Shehla Hashmi Grewal directs all young ones present to punch a hole in a lump of clay, while rotating it.

“This technique allowed Greeks in ancient times to come up with Pinch Pot and is still relevant among many contemporary artists. Even the present day Red Indians make use of this technique,” says Shehla as she instructs the children to make deeper depressions for bigger pots which might have been required to keep papayas. 

“I have to give the children reason for everything. Here in comes the role of story-telling which helps them relate to the discovery of various objects from early civilisations,” she adds as she asks all to make seals which have been found in excavations all over the Indian subcontinent. 

“This means that they must have been used in exchange of buying goods.” The youngsters thus realise the importance of history, whereas their parents revise their knowledge. Summer vacations can't be more fun than this!

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