We recently had a round of evaluations of Thulir both by the smaller children and the young adults.During the first round of evaluation the following people were present – Teenagers group of 10 students [the present senior batch], Perumal, Rajammal, Devagi, Senthil, Ravi, Anu and Krishna.The object was mainly to get a feedback of students’ opinions, confidence, skills gained etc.
This was a session of group discussions interspersed with a few questions which everybody answered anonymously in writing. The answers were read out .
The background of this was that in May many students from sittilingi got their std.10 and std.12 results. This year saw a significant number from Sittilingi finishing their class 12 . Many of them came to Thulir for help in applying for higher studies. The prevailing mood in the village is that everybody should apply for engineering or BSc. (Math). All these students look down at the Basic technology course students as failures. So we thought the morale in Thulir was low.
We started the session by going over our objectives in running the course viz.
– to give them self-confidence
– give them skills to lead an independent, and satisfied life
The students then listed thulir’s contributions towards achieving this,viz;
Then a series of questions were put to them —
“What do the students give Thulir in return ?”
Their response was that they give back the following:
Work – both for the functioning of Thulir and project work
Cooperation – with Thulir and with each other
Learn and teach others thereby helping with Thulir’s objectives
“If we give each one of you money and ask you to earn a living on your own in the village , would you be able to ? Are you confident to do so ?”
Answers from all present except 3- Yes [83percent]-
This was a great surprise to us. We had expected them to say we need more education, we need support, skills, etc. In the discussion that followed many of them expressed the view that if the same question had been asked them a year ago, their answer would have been in the negative.This one year of the course had helped them say yes with confidence.
“Would you like to work alone on your own or would you like to work as a group with some of your batch mates here? Which do you think will work better?”
All of them answered that they would like to work as a group and they felt that would definitely work better.
They were then split into groups and asked to enumerate what they would do to earn a living and lead an independent life.
Furniture- need to learn more
Teaching – need to learn more
Craft work – need help with marketing
This listing gave the whole group a lot of confidence and this was plainly visible.
“What skills do we require to succeed in each of these jobs?”
Wiring was taken as an example; and the following was listed as something they have to learn;
Names of components
Quality/ rating of components etc.
Quantity of labour
Ability to write about the work done/ Record progress
Ability to talk to strangers
“What does a family in the village spend money on normally?”
36 items were listed .
There was then a discussion as to whether one could survive in the village doing just one job or whether a combination of jobs was required? The groups had already answered this question when each had listed a combination of jobs to survive.
Test for Thulir
[Evaluation by the teenagers- Thirteen students were given a questionnaire which they filled anonymously.]
Question 1.- What did you learn in Thulir?
They listed the following:
- Basic Maths
- To talk to new people
- To read some English
- To read and write Tamil
- organic farming
- to make torches
- bee keeping
- To make soap
- to build
- to draw plans
- To estimate
- Table lamps
- ceiling lamp
- lamp shades
- Calculations and costing in organic farming
- some computer work
- to repair cycles
- Cooperation and working together
- Division and multiplication
- To measure with a tape
- To measure with a multi meter
- To repair motors
- Calculation of area of land
Question 2.- You had some expectations of learning before you joined Thulir. Did you learn more than that , less than that or as much as you expected?
More than I expected- 12
As much as I expected- 1
Question 3.- Do you understand the way things are taught in Thulir?
Question 4.- What you learn here is
Question 5.- When compared to school the learning in Thulir is
the same 0
Question 6. – To improve teaching / learning in Thulir we need
More practical classes 11
More theory classes 2
- Question 7.- Are these classes necessary?
[the following list was provided and each had to list the things they felt is necessary and list those they think is not necessary]
Activity – necessary
General knowledge 5
None of them listed any of the activity as not necessary.
Question 8.- I would like to be taught the following things further… list
The following is the summary of the activities that came out of the responses.
a. Electrical Wiring
c. Operating different machines
h. General knowledge
Question 9.- In thulir, we need to be more
don’t know- 3
Question 10 – Should we continue conducting this course?
a. Yes 13
b. No o
Question 11.- In your opinion Thulir has
failed in its task 0
succeeded in its task 13
Question 12 .- I award the following marks to Thulir
Average score from 13 students — 76%
Test for Thulir
(with the children of the evening batch)
What have you learnt in Thulir?
It was heartening to note that most children listed reading books and mathematics as the first activity. This has never been the topmost activity in earlier years. Learning through handling materials, activity based learning was always viewed as play and the children would list ‘playing’ as the first activity.
The other activities listed are playing, stories, songs, art, craft, talking to new people, learning about new places, etc.
What did you like in Thulir?
Most children have said that they like Thulir, the place itself and the people in Thulir. Many have said that they like reading books, listening to stories and doing mathematics here.
What don’t you like?
One or two have said that they don’t like the older boys take over the playground and play . A couple of children have said that there is nothing about Thulir they don’t like.
But, most children have misinterpreted the question as ‘what they don’t like generally’ and have said that they don’t like to fight or use bad language.
Is the evening snack provided in Thulir necessary or not?
Everyone has said that they like the evening snack.
Will you come to Thulir even if the snack is not given?
[These questions were for us to find out if the children were coming to Thulir just for the snack or were coming for something more…]
Everyone has said that they would come even if the snack is not given.
Would you like to have sessions on all days?
[We presently have sessions from Tue through Sat.]
Everyone has said that they would like to have sessions everyday, except Sundays. [In earlier years we have had demands to have sessions on all days. With free TV in every house they want to watch TV on Sundays. They would like a session on Mondays.]
Should we teach only from the school textbooks and dispense with other general activities we do?
The unanimous answer is “No, please do both – but don’t teach like at school”.
Should we hit children to correct them as in school?
[We had a doubt that some parents and children might be expecting the above two and perhaps some kids were forced to drop out as this was not happening.]
Everybody has said “please don’t hit and continue to teach us kindly and patiently”.
Should we be stricter at Thulir?
“No” from most children – 4 have said “a little more strict”. A few children have written that when corrected patiently they respond and adhere to rules better.
Do you understand what is being taught in Thulir?
Everyone has said that they understand well. A few have said that they understand better than in school.
Some students have dropped out – do you know the reason why they have done so?
Reasons cited for the children dropping out or being absent now and then
b.Fear of ghost believed to be residing in the house on the way to Thulir
d.Parents stopping them at home for work or for looking after younger children
Should we make attendance compulsory?
Should written work be given everyday?
Half the kids wanted written work, while the other didn’t want it and wanted a mix of activities.
In your opinion, is Thulir succeeding in what it has set out to do?
Everyone has certified that Thulir has succeeded.
Marks awarded by you….
Most children have awarded 100% to Thulir, some have given one thousand, a lakh [hundred thousand], etc.