We started with a session for grade 1 and 2. Most of the session was in Marathi, and Nidhi observed later that this helped student participation. Apoorva Vaidya had got along his magic sack. Like Santa Claus, the goodies started coming out. A packing thread, a sewing thread, a jute one and finally craft paper. Every time he would get something out of his bag, he would ask students where can we use this? There were a lot of responses. And students found a great diversity of uses available.
Now he wanted to cut the rope into pieces. He did a little bit of math, asked students how can we cut a rope into 8 equal pieces. Most of them got that by halving thrice. But when he asked about 9 pieces, there was confusion. There was a demo of Jugaad, when Anil decided to use the edge of a steel sheet to cut the the rope.
He went on to make student groups. The approach to group making was interesting. He asked friends to sit together. And then he exchanged members from these groups. Next, he took out some disposable plates and asked students to choose watercolor tubes. After the squeezing the paint on to the plate, he gave some brushes to students to mix water into the paint. Students then dipped the threads / ropes into the paint. The A4 craft paper was then folded into A5 size. A step by step demonstration was given, even then Sahil managed to fold it along the wrong axis!
The rope was then inserted with random curves into the folded paper, such that one end of the rope was outside the paper. Apoorva then asked students to press the paper with their palm and pull the rope and thread out. The papers were opened and to get some nice symmetrical designs. He asked students to rotate the paper and stare at it after every 90 degree of rotation. Imagine what it could be. Students found trees, birds and butterflies inside their random paint. We could have extended this further and actually could have made students give closure to this imagination, by using a pencil.
We ended with a summary of learnings. The answers were: drawing, colouring, mixing, painting, use of rope etc. He wanted students to make greeting cards out of their cards. Unfortunately, none of the students knew what a greeting card was! When he asked students, what they were going to do with this paper, everybody wanted to keep it at home; nobody was in the mood to gift it. We should have had some discussions at the end of the activity. Maybe on symmetry. Or perspectives. Apoorva was quite happy with the class. In retrospect, he found this class better than grades 3/4/5.
Kalplata was in attendance. Apoorva made students sit in a circle. After introductions, he asked students to come up to the whiteboard and draw their favourite shapes. I was disappointed to see very standard shapes being on offer: Circle, Triangle, Square and rectangle. I forget, small mercy, Anjali drew a cone! Apoorva drew a trapezium and parallelogram, but none of the students new the names for those shapes. Neelam needs to do some work here.
The assignment give it to student groups who has what picture can you make using only these shapes. He gave five minutes to the groups to discuss this picture. After 5 minutes, there was a twist in the tale. In addition to making the picture, students now also had to accompany it with a story.
After 10 minutes, the 3 member groups were called and given 3 markers. The instruction was that all of you have to draw the picture together. Easier said than done. We had instances, where we had to coerce student groups to get everybody to draw. In retrospect, would have made a perfect theme for group work. The stories were a disappointment; I think the school needs to work on the storytelling skills of our students.
The Aditya’s and Shivam made a house. They had relatively the best story. A rich brat in a village decides to get married. Calls a DJ for the party. The sound of the music disturbs a poor neighbour, because there is an old sick parent at home. He complains to the rich man. The volume gets lowered. Yet everybody enjoys! Prithviraj, Anjali and Dhiraj Draw a birthday cake using only circles. The non-inspiring story was a about a birthday party. Shivani, Shivangi and Payal demonstrated the best team work in drawing. The actually made multiple objects in their drawing. A house with trees. But creativity in storytelling was 0. They went back to the cliched birthday party.
At the end I asked students to make human shapes using the shapes. An unnecessary diversion, in hindsight. Apurva had a good question for the groups. Did you use all the shapes in your drawing? When we asked students what they have learnt, I was happy to note that one of the groups did say teamwork. Another insight shared by students was we learnt how we can do drawing using math!
On the way back, when we were discussing the second session Apoorva shared with me that some part of it was improvised. I have found that sessions which are done off the cuff tend to have lower energy levels than those that teachers plan for. What could we have done to increase energy levels? More of the doing together in parallel. Followed by brief presentations. It would require the facilitator to move around to see what they are doing.
The last session of Apoorva’s was our usual teacher meet. Rohini Tai and Komal tai were not present. This time, I started with my question. How does he combine his profession of sales and his hobby of art? According to Apoorva, sales is more science than art. Art changes your way of thinking. As an example, the first thing he did when he entered the school was to photograph our building. Not because the building architecture impressed him, but the interplay of light and shade that he saw then. Art has its own grammar, so does sales. Both are basically forms of expression.
And then there are the social benefits. Art has helped build his social network. It has helped release the high stresses associated with a sales job. How it helps you to learn to appreciate beauty outside of yourself. And finally, for customers who themselves have an interest in art, it becomes an interesting common point of discussion. Last year, Apoorva printed 100 calendars of his art and gifted it to his customers. In sales, out of sight is out of mind. So when your calendar is very much in sight, it’s very much in mind. Art has given Apoorva a sense of Identity. Instead of being introduced as the guy from Microsoft, he always got introduced as The Artist.
Maithili’s question: Why did you quit Microsoft? Apoorva had planned his departure. The key he feels is to keep yourself occupied. He is also going to be trying some entrepreneurial experiments. Here’s wishing him the very best for that.
The next question: What should one do? Job or Art. I assumed this one would be a rhetorical question. But he surprised me with his answer: time time ki baat hai. When you are younger and have responsibilities, it’s obviously the job. When you are older, with reduced responsibilities, it is art.
Kalpalata wanted him to talk about the challenges faced in the dairy industry. Apoorva feels that no matter what the job, what is common is people handling skills. A very apt answer, and I hope Kalplata reflects on this.
Neelam wanted to know when did he pick up his interest in painting? Apoorva comes from a family where art, music and sport have been considered important. His dad was an architect with Ravatbhata Atomic Power Plant. Although Apoorva studied at an Agricultural University, in the midst of nature, far away from the city, surprisingly he didn’t pick up art, when he had luxury of time. On the other hand, with the pressure and stress of a job, he found the space to work on art!
Nishi wanted to know the journey from dairy to IT. Apoorva didn’t plan for it. He actually has been forced into things that he’s never wanted to do. As a child, he hated milk. As an engineer, he failed in technology. And IT was the last thing on his mind when he finished his MBA. For Apoorva, every job has been different. And this includes a lot of internal transfers inside Microsoft. But what he has learnt is: go with the flow. Give 100 % to whatever you do.
Nidhi’s question was about his plans for his children’s future? Apoorva’s reply: ‘I wanted to be an architect. Should I force my kids to become one? My parents didn’t put put pressure on me, so why put any pressure on my kids. Bacche Kabhi Kisi Ka Naam Roshan nahi karte. Apne Ko Apna Naam Khud Hi Roshan karna padta hai.’