‘PARI stories are relevant to the syllabus’

By Sheela Venkataraman

I have been a teacher for over 30 years and currently I teach Geography and Economics to high school students at Sishu Griha, an ICSE school in Bangalore.

I regularly use PARI in both my Geography and Economics classes. Though we have weekly Lesson Plans and Annual Plans, usually the night before I go to the PARI website and type the topic in the search bar and choose something relevant and interesting for the week.

That’s how I came across the famous rap song Sanga shethi karoo kashi (Marathi rap song: ‘Tell me how to do farming?’). It explained beautifully the problems of farmers which is one of the sub-topics in the chapter on agriculture for Class 10 Geography.

The rap song allowed me to teach multiple things – I showed them a cracked earth, the impact of scanty rainfall, the concept of MSP, the recent farmers’ stir and I even used it to show a kuchha hut that comes under the section ‘Topography’ in their syllabus.

In the Physical Geography class my students love to watch PARI videos. I usually choose short videos. Often the audio speakers of our Smart Boards do not work and so children from the last benches come out of their places, sit on the ground close to the CPU to catch the sound and watch the video.

Now in online classes too, I use the videos while taking classes on Zoom. It helps me to break the monotony of the class.

I showed them Five farmers speak of their demands from the PARI coverage of the farmers’ march. It’s the story in which five farmers talk about their debts. Topics we had covered such as poverty, illiteracy, land holding, they could associate these problems they had studied in the textbook with the PARI stories. At least 75 per cent of the story is matched in their syllabus. Even now, they remember that the tubewell [in the story] cost one lakh rupees to dig, and they mention it again and again.

About the teacher

Sheela Venkatraman has been a teacher for over 30 years. She teaches Geography and Economics to high school students at Sishu Griha, an ICSE school in Bangalore. She was drawn to PARI after hearing P. Sainath talk, and the subsequent workshop which she says, “gave a new perspective to my teaching.”

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