Introduction There are a number of schools where an element of creativity is part of the regular teaching process, but carefully nurtured and crafted as far as extra-curricular activities are concerned. Of course, the initiative of some good teacher, who believes in taking teaching to a new level, and enabling students to be part of the globalized competitive social and business environment, is always seen.
A few such experiences shared by such teachers are discussed here. Of course, the need and scope for creativity are limitless. The importance of creativity in extra-curricular activities in schools arises due to a) The need to awaken the giant within each child b) Enable each child to be open to all events around c) Nurture the latent interests of children d) Spotting the geniuses in some children and e) Continue relationships far beyond the school premises.
Awaken the giant within each child There is no doubt that each child born in this world is a genius in his or her own right. While this is true of any child when the same child reaches the fifth or the sixth standard, the child starts becoming increasingly aware of whatever happens to him or her. In fact, this is the right time to start exploring his or her potential and any creative attempt made should be an exercise in this direction.
For example, a teacher would go to his class and announce a small prize for any child who could come up with the names of freedom fighters who were born in that particular month. This homework would be open to all children and the next day, the sharing of results will happen. In this fashion, every single child would learn something extra. Though he was a Mathematics teacher, he thought of such a simple but creative idea, never done before. Then there was the English teacher who would attempt a different thing. She would create initial interest by asking the children to come back with one song dating back to the times when Tamil movie songs were melodious. This would interest the children and the best song would be played for all children to listen to. The next day, she would change track and ask the children to come out with names of all cricketers who had hit more than three centuries in their cricket careers, in Test cricket. The two schools actively encouraged such activities but not all teachers adopted such techniques. There were even some mild behavioral games on teamwork, done for the plus two children of one of the schools. Each child that showed more than the normal willingness to learn new ideas was always encouraged. Later on, the Principal himself showed interest and the school children always won prizes in the inter-school competitions.
Enabling each child to be open to all events around One of the simplest methods is to make the child read a prestigious newspaper every day. This should happen right after the sixth standard. A seventh-standard child will be somewhat mature enough to understand what is a district, a headquarters town, and so on. One Government teacher would take the children to different places, by spending her own money. For example, she would take the children only by the Government bus to the nearest big city where the children would be taken to the Government hospital. The children would understand some basics and even interact with doctors. Similarly, when the doctors come for some health check-up, in collaboration with the local Lions club, the children would be encouraged to learn what is meant by blood pressure and so on, and all explanation is done in English.
Today, companies like WIPRO have donated computers to some Government schools. The children are taught the basics of computing right from the sixth standard. Thus, exposure to any event that happens within India and abroad is a very essential part of the creative learning process of each child.
Nurturing latent interests of children This is also extremely important. We hear stories of some teachers nurturing a particular child to become a poet or dancer or singer or whatever. This happens when the child exhibits some interest that stands out. Teachers have taken pride in nurturing cricket in one child and dancing in another. The child, now out of school, is a regular participant in live dancing performances on a famous TV channel and is a student of the Visual Communication course at a famous college. He also has offered to dance in Tamil movies and is part of an event management group, for his summer internship.
Spotting the geniuses in some children There is this story of a leading Tamil director, who has now directed a few highly famous Bollywood hits as well. This person hails from a rural family, and was initially encouraged by his school teacher and later by some teachers in a college at Tiruchirapalli, where he studied. The going was never tough. But the creative genius in him surfaced two decades later after he worked as an assistant director for several years.
There is so much such talent lying around. We do have some genius waiting to go on to the bigger stage. The teachers should spot such talent and go all out of the way in helping such children grow their genius talent in whatever ways they can. Allowing children to open up at various stages and even focused counseling can be of great help. This is all the more true of rural children, who may not be able to articulate what lies deeply embedded in their semi-conscious minds. Such children are not always like other children. Only when questioned will they open up and getting to understand their inner cravings is a more delicate task. Painters, for example, according to some research, are not highly social people. Teachers even need to be trained to handle such children.
Continuing relationships far beyond the school premises It is very much essential that this happens. The New Economic Policy, one understands, would open up possibilities of a countless number of different electives and learning to any advanced level through one or more electives. In fact, one often hears how a Chartered Accountant by training in India, would go on to become a noted Organizational Behavior expert, after acquiring two advanced doctorates in the USA. Something similar is being attempted by the NEP and countless possibilities are being talked about. Hence, we need schools that can forge excellent relationships with their alumni and help them grow even after they have left the school. This mutually beneficial partnership might as well open up new vistas of collaboration for more creative initiatives.
Conclusion A few thoughts on what can be done to nurture the extra-curricular activities of children have been discussed in the aforesaid paragraphs. This is only indicative and not exhaustive. The learning that will be part of the process when the New Economic Policy is implemented, will throw up any number of such creative initiatives at the school level.