A Test for Thulir

The review we did of Thulir with the students was called “Thulirukku oru paritchai” [a test for Thulir]. There were many questions each person had to answer. The following questions were some of the questions asked:

  • How long have you been coming here?
  • List the things you have learnt here.
  • What else do you want to learn?
  • What do you like most here? what do you not like?
  • Shall we have sessions only on weekends and holidays instead of having sessions every evening on weekdays?
  • What other rules should we have in Thulir?
  • Should we be more strict generally and about attendence ?
  • Is the supplemantary snack we have in the evenings necessary or shall we stop it?
  • Should we have written excercises every day?
  • Is the way of teaching here OK or should it be changed?
  • Do you know why some girls have stopped coming to Thulir?

It was heartening to see all the children sit down and write answers to these questions. Most of them when they first came to Thulir could hardly write [even Tamil]. Of course they still make a lot of mistakes, but have progressed to the stage of confidently attempting to think and write on their own!

Among the things they have listed as having learnt are

  • Tamil and English [to read and to write],
  • Math,
  • General knowledge,
  • Talking to new people with confidence,
  • and learninig about the outside world from them,
  • reading books,
  • drawing, painting, crafts like knitting etc,

All of them have said they like it here. 4-5 of them have said specifically that they are happy here and that they have been able to learn here only because there is an affectionate environment around. Some girls [we know they have a traumatic family situation] have said that they are able to forget their troubles here.

Most children want sessions every evening and during weekends also! 4 children have said that they dont like the fact that we dont have evening sessions on Mondays [right now we keep Mondays for admin work, maintenance of the campus and buildings, and for planning and preparing classes]. Some older children expressed that they are expected to work in their family fields on school holidays and therefore not to have sessions on holidays.

Two boys have said we should hit children when they do wrong! [we asked this question as this is something we discuss often with the children and also right now a controversy is raging in Tamil Nadu as the Govt has removed the right of the teacher to hit…yes, it was sanctioned in law!]

Everyone has said they would attend Thulir even if we stop the food supplement.

Most want more spoken English classes and computer classes. Two older children [boy and girl] want sewing lessons.

Most have said that the teaching methods and teaching environment in general need not be changed.

All children want to do some written work every day.

Two children have expressed that the play time has been reduced nowadays and that it should not be done.

Most said that children should be asked to come more regularly but if they have work in their fields then they should be excused.

The older children have said that the reason for some girls stopping was the attainment of puberty and the death of a boy in the stream.

We hope to keep this dialogue going and take on some of their suggestions.Already some measures have been put in place, for instance, writing exercises every day. We are happy that we did this exercise with the students as we have a better understanding of the way they perceive Thulir’s activities. It has helped us clarify in our minds too what we ought to be doing in future.

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