Thursday, May 10, 2007

Blogward bound

For those of you who have been wondering where I am (thanks for asking, Surabhi!), here's the answer: I’ve been busy resting my back. If you can call it that, since resting your back is the one thing that keeps you totally non-busy. You have to devise activities to keep the mind occupied, so that it doesn’t turn nasty and implode.

As a way to stay sane, n and I have been doing lots of crafty things. We’ve made salt-dough, shaped little things out of it, baked them, painted-and-varnished them (or as n says, ‘niced them’) and then stuck magnets on to them. Then we’ve baked cookies. Which n feels inordinately proud of. Especially as she is gobbling them up. You don’t know what an achievement this is for me – the cookie thing, I mean. Usually when Amit enters the house and smells vanilla essence in the air he winces. I’m a disaster at baking. But I unearthed a cookie recipe that was totally Anita-proof. And n and I are busy baking now. We’ve even tried a whole-wheat substitute and succeeded.

We’ve also made cornstarch colours (haldi, beetroot, palak) and I shamelessly let n splash them on her sheet of paper and splatter the wall. I decided to throw prudence to the winds wall-wise because there’s no other level at which the two of us can have fun together (the last time we went out together was two months back; and I haven’t lifted her since she was 6 months old).

The other fun thing Amit and I did was a series of workshops we took with some kids for The Pomegranate Workshop. I did writing with them and Amit did illustration – during separate sessions, of course. This was the second round of workshops for me and the third for Amit. The sessions were great fun – they helped us open up a lot more too! And the kids were adorable. Bright-as-buttons too.

Separately, we both noticed something odd and disturbing. Among kids between 11 and 14, the boys are a lot more out-of-the-box with their thinking. The girls on the other hand, tended to do well while still playing safe. We saw this across locations. Strangely, this is true only of the 12-and-above kids. Till that age, creativity levels are the same – except for individual variations of course.

Could this be a gender-related thing? Maybe a phase girls go thru? Does co-education have anything to do with it? I read somewhere that girls in co-eds tend to under-perform and try to conform to gender stereotypes… I know this sounds regressive, but sometimes I feel being in a same-sex school gives you a little more freedom to be yourself rather than trying to be your gender… Who knows, yaar?

Anyway, I couldn’t take as many sessions as I’d promised the Pommies I would, thanks to the back, but it was such fun! Gave me a fantastic headrush of joy to: 1. be out, 2. be with kids, and 3. do stuff with them and jog their minds a bit and push them and get them to think and write! Did poetry with the biggies, which was more fun than I imagined it would be – and the kids were wonderfully charged – both girls and boys!

You know, I always wanted to be a teacher…


SUR NOTES said...

i read about the workshop in the papers and saw your name. wanted to come across but didnt...

i dont know about the co-ed school being a factor in the girls playing safe. though another friend feels strongly about this- that girls are far more freer in all girls school because they dont need to play at being 'a girl'.

i dont think it is the schools. its really to do with all that we are seeing around. the amount of time girls as young as nine are bothered about looks is scary. i really thought about what i wore or how i looked only in college- and by then we were all such inverse snobs that it was cool not to bother!

i really dont know how to deal with these sort of things.

am sure the workshops were great.

ps take care of your back.

Space Bar said...

Anita, sorry to hear your back's giving you trouble. I can't imagine what it ust be like not to lift a child over 6 months old; I'm constatly hefting my son over my hip even now...hope you get well soon.

I'm SO glad you linked to Priya's thingy. I mailed her straight off! Heard what she was doing from Renu Iyer in Pune earlier this year and never got around to finding her website.

You know, this gendering kids does happen very early on, and it has a little bit to do with the way co-eds are structured (or in the way they don't talk about gender). Kids watch tv, are exposed to stereotypes; during PT, it's the guys who play football (the girls play basketball or throwball) right from class one; girls are constantly told what they cannot do and no teacher interprets these things for them. Neither do parents. It's appalling.

Uma said...

Just found your blog today... nice!!

dipti said...

I do think same sex schools let girls remain free of the pressures to look good and act like 'girls', minus the competition to be popular with the boys . an all girls also fosters that early bonding with the sisterhood that mixed schools don;t always allow..