The Days of Patti and Slate

Shiv Kumar Padha

Suk (dry) suk Pattiye ram diye Sakhiyer- Kala chor aya danda leke aya, danda gaya toot patti gayee sookh.
Kanwan (crow) kanwan aja, pheeki siahi (ink) leja goodhi siahi déjà.
Ik doona doona do done kitne-Do doone char teen done kitne.
One group:- Fut fut fut fut (sound of a bike) karne wali-meelon ka dum bharne wali.
Second group:- Aan badi hai shan badi hai- do pehion me jaan badi hai.
Kokra chapaki jume raat aye hai, jehda age peechhe dekhe udi shamat aye hai.
Attar pattar patna jaeye beri da pattar Leona.

The rhythmic lines as mentioned earlier present the synoptic view of the primary education that produced great writers, linguists, scientists, bureaucrats, mathematicians, intellectuals during the days when there were neither computers, calculators, internets, TV channels nor any costly electronic or sophisticated teaching aids, which our children have been using from the very beginning of their school life now a days.  The primary education, in the rural area schools till eighties, was rhythmic, child centered, environment based and had a large scope for plays and co curricular activities.
Unlike the present days, the school bags used by the primary class students, weighed hardly two kilograms. The items contained in the bag included wooden Patti app. 500 gms. One painted iron slate app. 200 gms. One to five small books, depending upon the standard, app. 200 gms. Two to three clay slatees (slate markers), one ink pot and some reed pens (qalam) app. 100 gms. The items contained in the bags were cheap, economic, easy to use and could be used time and again after easy washing. Moreover it suited to every pocket.
The wooden Patti was a multipurpose device which could be used for writing mathematical tables improving language, handwriting, calligraphy and giving dictations. The school day, for the children up to second standard, started with collectively washing of the wooden Patti with a cake of clay called gachni in local dialect. The Patties were dried in the sun singing the lines given at number 1 above. The lines and the alphabets were drawn on the dried Patties which the children were asked to write on with the help of reed pen with the writing side (tip) of it cut according to the needed font size. The same surfaces of the same patty could be used after every washing. The continuous use of Patti helped the students improve their hand writing and the psychomotor development. The painted iron slate was used to solve the mathematical sums and practicing the tables upto higher order. The writing on the slate was wiped with the wet cotton or a rag tied with the slate. These two writing mediums were too cheap to be imagined. These devices enhanced the writing skill, stamina, patience and confidence among the children because they could try solve the sums till the mastery level without incurring any extra expenses for that.
The true learning among the children can take place only when we involve all of their senses in the process. The lines from 3 to 7 mentioned earlier can explain well how  the children learnt everything with their full involvement in the process. The methods of teaching used during the traditional teaching fixed every subject its concepts, contents and the objectives in the minds of the children because this type of teaching was based upon play way, child centered, heuristic and environmental approach where all the five senses of the learners were involved resulting into the development of the cognitive domains comprising of knowledge, comprehension and application. The social sciences and the general sciences were taught in close proximity with the nature. Both the scholastic and non scholastic aspects of education brought the learner very near the nature. They could identify, classify and group the soils, plants, trees, their leaves, weather, seasons, and the need of protecting the environment. The previous style of teaching emphasized upon drill, practice, precision and accuracy which always helped the learner in improving their art  of calligraphy, comprehension of the language,  pronunciation, stress and intonations in the recitation of poems and in learning written as well as the oral mathematics which our present time learners completely lack in.
If we compare the bulk, weight and contents of the school bags of the present school going child with the one as discussed earlier we find the later 20 times heavier than the former because it contains voluminous text books, exercise and note books, diaries, dozens of pencils, ball pens, eraser fluid, calculators, mobiles lunch boxes and the potable water bottle. Though there is no dearth of the teaching learning material these days but the quality of education they get these days is much less than the previous learners had. The frequent use of calculators, internet and computer during the early standards has affected the faculties of learning of the learners. The use of mobiles and net has totally made them handicapped with the result they cannot spell or write English properly and don’t know the skill of punctuation. Not to talk of oral mathematics they can neither perform four basic operations of mathematics nor can speak out small number according to the place value. The excessive use of the gadgets have affected their hand writing, psychomotor faculties. The answers for the simplest questions       from the net affects their ability to recall, recollect and recognize which later on becomes great hindrance in the process of learning because whole of the educational process revolves round the cognitive, connative and affective domain.
The present so called public schools are housed in small accommodations where there are no play grounds, places for morning assembly. The children remain huddled in the small compartments of the schools. Not to talk of interaction with the nature the children are totally ignorant about their immediate environment and are deprived of plays and indoor games. There is no patience in the children to solve the long sums because they are dependent upon  tuitions. No education system is extremely good or bad. It can become ideal only if the child is fully involved in the learning process because the knowledge can be recieved through the gate ways of five sense i.e. sense of touch, sight, hearing, taste and sense of smell. Isolating the child from the nature can never result in desired and sustainable education.