I have been screening a phenomenal film Save our Sholas by Shekar Dattatri to students between class three and seven in Chennai.
So far, I have done about five sessions.
One, when I first saw the film, I was so inspired, touched and that also made me imagine how children or even teachers would perceive this film. For the first time, I witnessed the splendour of the forest, with its rich biodiversity and addressing a basic human need, water. The connect between forests and rivers were portrayed beautifully and the sequence was something that cannot take your attention away even for a second. The children were glued to the screen.
Kudos to Shekar for giving us a fantastic film. I am glad I am able to share this with students.
The initial AVs that I conducted, I could see a gamut of emotions in the body language of students, there was awe in the eyes of the students and every moment of the film, every turn, every new thing that they saw, in every frame, expressions changed in a flash of seconds. From being charmed watching the pristine forest, to expressing disgust watching a leech sucking blood, to watching the King Cobra eat a rat snake with eyes shut, smiles and laughter watching a Lion Tailed Macaque and squirrel, the emotions were instant and captivating and oscillating.
As I watched these tiny tots showing their expressions vividly, I was captivated by the impact the film created in these young minds. When I posed them questions, most of the students spoke about deforestation and on the first day, I was glad they knew such words existed. Further, as I addressed more students, this word surfaced again, many times. That took away the surprise and I acknowledged the exposure they have, much more than I even imagined!
Probably the highlighting moment of the sessions so far was a session with 1500 students at Holy Angels. My eyes wandered, as I was able to capture what the children were discussing in the midst of watching the film. Post the session, two girls were sitting across, discussing King Cobra in an intense way, her hands moving like a slithering snake. There were so many emotions in her eyes.
Most of these students were from class three. Post the session, I interacted with more students from class seven who offered their time for conservation. This sure came from the film and the talks I had with them. I saw papers and plastics strewn over in the school and used this opportunity to even talk about being an ecologically conscious student and individual at home and school. Most of them got it and agreed to work on it. I could see the change in attitude coming very genuinely.
Though I anticipated many questions from students, yesterday there was a new turn to the programme. At Vidyodaya, the girls asked me questions like, how does the weaver ant build a nest? I had read about it and shared what I know.
I also realised with children, I have always understood this fact and I never underestimate their knowledge. Their inquisitive minds are replete with questions on how, why, when, where, what?
The city children are also very exposed to a wide arena of knowledge-books, television, internet, and their knowledge is sure at a higher level.
Also, in my attempt to address these children, I am going to go a step further and read more about the species in the film, to be able to do even better than what I am doing know and also to give a value add, talk and share what I know.
You can’t get away talking shallow to these children, they probe, they ask, and they wont leave you till they get what they want. It takes all the more a greater effort to answer these children in the right manner.
With all this and more, I only hope a change is seeded into their minds to make them more responsible green citizens of tomorrow.