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Prodigies at 7

By Archana Rao

When was the first time that you went to the market to buy something? When was the first time that you handled currency all by yourself? When was the first time you calculated how much the shopkeeper has to give you back? At what age did you know that you had to save for a rainy day? At what age did you learn how to strike a deal for a merger with your friend to buy something that neither of you could afford alone, but together could and benefited both of you? 

While you try to think of all those first times and ages, class Superstars Grade 2 achieved all these objectives at the age of 7 at the Superstar Market !
An incentive for good behavior, completing their homework on time and doing well on tests was the Superstar Market ! Each student collected individual Star points which would translate to Star Money in denominations of 5 and 1. The students were called in the order of performance which of course ensured that the maximum choice was with the top few students.

There were of course those who could not take part in the market since they didn't earn any star points, so well they could only satisfy themselves with looking at their friends splurging their star money. These kids are already on their best behavior earning their way through to the next market!

What I realized was that to teach kids real life skills, you need to bring these situations in their very classroom! 

No amount of rote learning would have made Sayaji merge his 12 star points with Akanksha who had 1 star point to buy the Super School kit valued at 13 Star points. He promised her a pencil from the school kit, an asset which he already possessed and which Akanksha was in need of.

No amount of conventional schooling would teach kids like Gautam and Firoz to save some of their star money for the next market so they could hope to buy bigger things.

No amount of addition and subtraction drills would make the kids calculate balance from what they bought, with out even realizing that they where adding and subtracting, with out even me introducing the objectives in class!

Not having the English language skills didn't mean that they didn't try to think on rational lines. These are skills I hope I can leave my kids with at the end of these two years.

I couldn't boast of having such skills when I was 6 years old, but I hope that the next time my kids go to the store to buy their favorite chocolate they will make all the right choices.

Archana Rao is a Teach for India fellow in a Municipal Akanksha school. An electronics engineer and a management consultant with HSBC previously, now is a change maker in the Indian education system! She loves practicing yoga, scribbling on Post-its and blogging when she is not teaching 7 year olds!


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