In Part – 1 of this article you read about learning through different forms. One fine evening in mid 1990s – I was in a relax mood having a chitchat with friends sitting on a bench in Deccan College ground. I was in my early 20s then. We saw a bunch of flamingos flying above us heading to a waterbody on the outskirt of the city. It was a moment to be captured. But alas, I did not have a camera. Digital camera was yet to be invented or accessible to common people. But visual experiences like this had got trapped deeply in my mind.
I did not have my personal camera till 2008. From mid-1990s till 2010 it was also a period of struggling and some personal chaos. But I was stick to what I liked much to do in life. Wherever travelled, I interacted with people of different religions, faiths, castes and occupations and observed their lifestyle, enquired about their history and tried constructing new meanings. I created a blog under the name ‘History Speaks’ and wrote extensively on history of cities and ideas. Still, I was struggling to come up with my original thinking. I was unable to write something that others have hardly attempted in the digital space. I did not want to be repetitive and a compiler. My childhood experiences of outdoor learning was often rendering in my mind. Slowly I evolved as a childlike creature during all my visual experiences with nature and heritage, pondering questions after questions on patterns, relationships, influences, history and many more.
For example, if I would visit Taj Mahal, the climax of Indian architecture and then asked to write, I would not describe its architectural history, rather focus on its context and how Taj Mahal is relevant today. I would look at each of its internal and external features and look for patterns, their meaning and how these had been conceptualized, whether original ideas or similar to these existed in earlier monuments. These help me explore chains of linkages of ideas in architectural and visual history. This is truly exhilarating.
Likewise when I am in nature, I am constantly reminded of Darwin. I am not a naturalist and nor that I know the names of species or their detailed anatomical features. But once experienced I google it out to know more about them. This is how I use technology. However before this technology intervention, I closely observe them in their wilderness, their shapes, behaviors, colours and defense and food procuring skills. If it is a sun rise or sunset than it is a bonus.
To sum up, nature and outdoor settings are our first teacher. But it is pity that our ultra-fast paced life and thanks to rapid urbanization and pollution our nature is continuously being devastated and we are all responsible for it. So investing in developing habits of naturalistic and visual spatial learning habits among our school children is the need of the hour.
By Jitu Mishra – Educational Specialist
I am passionate about anthropology, archaeology and linking them with school education.