Tag Archives: creative

Old Stories, New Versions

Last time I had written about innovative adaptations in children’s books. Here are some different, creative versions of old stories.

A while ago, I had come across a new version of the tortoise and the hare story by an unknown author. In the old original story, the hare falls asleep and the slow but steady tortoise wins the race. In the new version, after the first race the hare introspects and understands that he was complacent. The next day, he takes on another race with the tortoise and this time he focuses on the job, runs without a break and easily wins the race. After this, the tortoise introspects and says to the hare, “Let’s race to the opposite bank of the river.” The hare runs and reaches the bank of the river and stops there. The tortoise slowly comes, dives into the water and swims to the opposite bank of the river. It is important to know your strengths and get in the field of your core competency. In the end, the hare and the tortoise come together, acknowledge each other’s strengths and decide to race as a team, in a record time. The hare carries the tortoise till the riverbank and then the tortoise carries the hare across the river. Together, with everyone doing the best they can, they both achieve more!

A well-known Marathi author Rajeev Sane (in a different context) has discussed various versions of the “two cats and a monkey” story. For example, if the cats are stern and warn the monkey beforehand as, “Put your share (fees) away first, but no fooling in the job”; then the story will be different. Or, if the cats agree on a procedure where one cat divides the butter and the other one chooses one of the pieces, then they won’t need a monkey at all. Yet another version could be that both the cats have plenty to eat and some butter is leftover after their meal and hence, they don’t need a monkey. In a nutshell, there could be a lot of versions of this story.

If children are told to make their own versions of these famous stories, we’ll be flooded with a lot of innovative stories. Children will learn to think outside the box and it will encourage their creativity. Children could work on such projects in school or at home.

 

Asking Questions

If you talk to any student about his/her studies, you’ll see that the only thing they are focused on is learning (rather memorizing) the answers. It is all about the answers. What about the ability to ask questions though? Asking questions is an essential element of creative and critical thinking and that seems to be missing from our education system. Children are naturally curious and want to learn more. Their curiosity can be channelized into asking questions and eventually asking ‘good’ questions. This is not the same as asking questions to get their doubts clarified on the lessons taught.

There are various ways to develop the ability to ask questions. Can we have group projects to ask meaningful questions on various topics or can we conduct brain storming sessions in the class? In the language exams we often test comprehension by asking questions on an unseen prose or a poem. Instead, we can ask students to come up with questions on a given text. Of course, the school teachers need to have enough time and skills to evaluate every student’s questions separately.  This kind of evaluation is very different from marking all the papers based on a set of model answers.

As children grow up, they can learn different types of questions and what it means by asking relevant and good questions. They will know that some questions are about seeking more information whereas other questions challenge our assumptions. Some have no concrete answers whereas others can have more than one answer. Asking good questions is really a critical skill in this day and age. We need to incorporate it in our school education and the sooner the better.