29 September 2011

Stories in communicating with children

We all know that stories are not only interesting to children but also to people of all age groups. I have found stories to be very effective in teaching value sytems as well as lesson concepts in subjects across pre K - 12 curriculum. I have also used stories in teacher development workshops and board meetings successfully.

In this post, let me present a short story which I had written when working for a children's magazine, a few years back. Hope you enjoy reading the story:

Jaanaki’s jump

Jaanaki is 10 years old and attends a primary school very near her home in a village. She is good in studies as well as in games. She likes helping others whenever possible. Hence everyone likes her. She loves her parents, grandmother and Jagdeesh, her 3 years old brother.

Everything goes on well in the village, until there is a sudden outburst of cholera. The village primary health centre tries to rectify the problem by taking preventive steps and decides to send health workers to administer door-to-door cholera inoculation. As the first step, the village administration spreads the message using public address system with a warning that all the inhabitants are expected to take the inoculation without fail.

Now, this is the most unpleasant message to our Jaanaki. Do you know why? It’s because, she doesn’t like any kind of injection simply because it ‘pains’. In fact, whenever she gets ill, her first priority is capsules, followed by tablets and then liquid medicine.

It is Sunday. All are watching TV. The doorbell rings. Jaanaki sees her father opening the door and greeting two people in white uniform. One person has a few papers in his hand and the other holds a stainless steel box that looks like a first aid kit. Immediately Jaanaki recognizes her “problem”. She has to act swift, as otherwise it will be too late.

As her dad is talking to the visitors Jaanaki slips out of the room very quietly and comes out to the backyard. There is no way she can escape, as their house has a large fence. Although there is a Neem tree adjacent to the fence, Jaanaki has never climbed a tree. That is a problem. However, this time she has to overcome it.

Jaanaki is relieved at the very sight of the tree. She runs to the tree and climbs it without any problem (In fact she doesn’t have time to be hesitant). Within seconds, she is on the fence. She feels like being on top of the world.

The whole act has lasted less than two minutes. As the TV show is very interesting, none seems to have noticed Jaanaki’s escapade. She looks around and decides to jump on the other side of the fence quietly and avert the otherwise inevitable inoculation. Jaanaki becomes completely ecstatic at the very thought of escaping the inoculation.

She takes a look at the other side of the fence for a secure place to jump. But what she sees there is more frightening than the syringe; there is a big dog casting a ferocious look at Jaanaki.

On seeing Jaanaki, the dog begins to bark. Immediately on hearing the bark, her parents come rushing to the backyard and find Jaanaki standing on the fence.

Now, in spite of all her planning, Jaanaki is back to square one. She has to decide between the “barking dog” and the “inoculation”.

Can you guess as to which one she prefers?  Yes, it is: inoculation.

Moral: Look before you leap. Don’t avoid anything that is good.

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About Me

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Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
I am a retired K-12 Education Management Professional. I have worked at different levels in K-12 school systems, textbook publishing, elearning and Education NGOs. I have held memberships in The Association for Science Education (UK), American Association of Physics Teachers and The Malaysian Institute of Physics. I hold a 1st class B Sc Degree in Physics followed by B Ed [English and Physical Science] and M A [Childcare and Education] degrees. My published works include 59 articles in teacher development magazines in India and the US and a book entitled `Creative Classrooms and Child Friendly Schools' (listed in Amazon). This book is almost an anecdotal account of my professional experience in six countries (including Cambodia where I worked as Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Youth And Sports). I served as mentor in the Certificate of Teaching Mastery Program offered by Teachers Without Borders.