The fourth edition of Kathavana, centred around the theme “Teachers as Readers” was held during September 9-11, 2015.
The festival opened at Azim Premji University with enthusiastic participation from nearly 50 Government and private school teachers and teacher educators (33 Government teachers from Anekal taluka, 13 teachers from 7 private schools participated) engaging with the theme ‘Teachers as Readers’. The event was inaugurated by S Giridhar, Registrar & COO, Azim Premji University along with Prof. Shailaja of Azim Premji University, SV Manjunath, Head of Karnataka State Institute, Azim Premji Foundation, and Chief Guests Dr. Narendra Rai Derla (Kannada Professor from Shivram Karanth Government First Grade College from Puttur) and Anand Patil (Retired Deputy Director, Akashvani Mysore). The focus for the first day was a bilingual discussion for teachers on the theme of “Teachers as Readers’. Using short stories by Rabindranath Tagore (“The Homecoming” in English) and B Lankesh (“Muttisikondavanu” in Kannada) as a starter for the session, participating teachers discussed, separately at first (in English and Kannada) and later together, on how conversations about literature can bring in different viewpoints of experiences and opinions that aid intellectual development.
The panel discussion involving Dr. Narendra Rai Derla and Anand Patil reflected on the day’s proceedings, and generated thoughts on who is a good reader, what literature has to do with developing good readers and why teachers need to engage themselves and their students in becoming good readers. The day ended with a summarizing session by Manjunath and Shailaja on how this process can be taken to schools by teachers.
In the concluding remarks Anand Patil said, “Engaging with literature is like opening a window to a whole new world of understanding, looking out across vistas encompassing all domains of knowledge.”
“Literature has the potential to create dilemmas, disagreements & arguments in our mind and it is important for teachers to be able to live with them. It is in engaging with these difficulties that they can teach children better and help them explore the world” added Narendra Rai Derla.
The second day of Kathavana 2015 took off as a colorful festival which saw a huge congregation of children and a celebration of stories in many vibrant forms. Organized by Azim Premji University in collaboration with the Education Department of Karnataka State Government, the festival was held at the playground of the Government Model Primary School for Girls in Sarjapura. The festival was attended by nearly 900 children from 26 schools of the 4 nearby clusters of Sarjapura, Dommasandra, Mugalur and Neriga (from the educational block of Anekal), who spent the day engaged in storytelling, reading, puppetry shows, writing, drama performances, painting and other fun-filled activities. The whole venue came alive with enthusiastic and joyful participation of the children, parents and teachers.
Well-known writer of children’s literature in Kannada Bolvar Mohammed Kunhi inaugurated the festival along with Ramamurthy, Block Education Officer of Anekal; Anurag Behar, Chief Executive Officer, Azim Premji Foundation, and Manjunath SV, Head of the Karnataka State Institute, Azim Premji Foundation. In his speech, Mohammed Kunhi emphasized the importance or reading and how reading aloud can help children understand the spirit of the story. He also demonstrated to the children just how easy it was to write a simple story, and encouraged all of them to read more as well as form a habit of creating their own stories.Organizations like Bookalore, Kathaalaya, Bimba and Tarikita, Karnataka State Institute Staff, as well as the students of Azim Premji University engaged the children through their activity centers, while various book publishers (including National Book Trust, Prism, Pratham Books, Tulika, Funky Rainbow and Navakarnataka Publications) set up bookstalls for children and teachers.
The third and final day of Kathavana 2015 attempted to take select group of teachers through an experience of reading and analyzing a short piece of writing around various dimensions of literary appreciation and criticism. Around 40 teachers and cluster-level educational functionaries from Anekal block (clusters of Sarjapura, Dommasandra, Mugalur and Nerega) and Bangalore South-3 (cluster of Doddakannelli) participated in the day-long workshop. The teachers first read a short story in Kannada by renowned author Maasti Venkatesh Iyengar (Tolstoy Maharishiya Bhoorja Vrukshagalu and then engaged with the story, summarize it and analyzing what message the story had to give. Focusing on the characters in the story, deliberating on the literary devices used by the author, and placing the story in a social and historical context; the teachers arrived at multiple viewpoints to interpret one single story. In the backdrop of the insights gained, the teachers further discussed on the key themes of the festival – teachers as readers – and reflected on who is a good reader, how literature can help one develop as a good reader, and why teachers need to engage in the process of discussing literature for themselves and with their students.
The three-day festival this year has focused on helping teachers and children engage more deeply with literature, and it is conceived as just a first step towards a continuing process. Azim Premji Foundation plans to work with these teachers continuously over the next few months (meeting at least once every month), building on the insights gained from this initial workshop, including exploring how such conversations on different forms of literature can be used as a pedagogical process with school children as well.
Click here for press reports on Kathavana 2015: Deccan Herald - Sept 3, Eeanadu - Sept 9, The Hindu - Sept 12, The Hindu - Sept 14, New Indian Express – Sept 9, Prajavani - Sept 9, Prajavani - Sept 11
> View Next: Kathavana 2016