The children at Hasigala Government School were building fast. Lego blocks became big walls, and walls became colourful houses at the community school programme conducted by Akshara Foundation in Hosakote Taluk, outside Bangalore.
“No windows?” I asked one high school student-builder. Soon, not only did the walls have windows gaps, but also had a tree up on the terrace. Talk of terrace gardens!
We know that children are amazingly creative, that they can create wonderful things from almost anything – sticks, stones, leaves, waste paper - but when they are given Lego blocks, their enthusiasm is infectious. So infectious that we spotted three generations of a family concentrating on trying to piece together little bits of plastic that they were seeing for the first time in their lives.
All learning happens in an amazing way. At Hasigala, children came to have fun. They sang, they played with blocks, and they even volunteered to read. My colleagues and I observed the young readers to assess their strengths and challenges.The younger ones struggled to read, some read but did not comprehend, and finally, a few read, understood and explained what they had undertood to the children around them. Later, while I struggled to read the list of Jnanpith Award winners painted in Kannada on a wall, some out-of-school boys who had come to see the fun (literally standing outside the school building and peering inside through a grill) saw my plight – and helped me finish reading!
Truly, the power of what a community can achieve if given the right stimulus, and the opportunity to learn from one another!