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Archive for the ‘The Granny Cloud’ Category

I come with a long history in Early Childhood Education. That brings with it a healthy respect for the need for varied and enriched sensory experiences. But in the settings I have chosen to work in, the reality is, almost always, very far from the ideal.

In encouraging, warm classrooms I’ve watched children peering over a teacher’s shoulder, occasionally even sitting on her lap as they lapped up the story, drawn by a kind and soft tone, and gentleness of demeanour…But when it comes to skyping with grannies over the internet, well, then… how can one even begin to provide for ‘touch’ and ‘smell’?  Yet, time and again, I am amazed at the extent to which a good, clear connection can point the children in that direction.

One of my fondest memories is of Sue reading a story to children from Grade 1 from one of our Hyderabad SOLEs way back in 2009. They were totally engrossed and kept trying to get as close to her as possible. When asked what they were doing, they said –  she has such “soft cheeks, such soft hair”. They wanted to reach out and touch her cheeks and stroke her hair….

Might this compensate just a little bit for children who would not have sensory experiences provided to them anyway?!

 

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Compensating for limited sensory experiences.Photo by Suneeta Kulkarni

 

This June [2016] we are fund raising to help get the School in the Cloud & the grannies to many more children across the world. Do support us. https://www.crowdrise.com/the-granny-cloud

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It was May 2009, and we had just launched The Granny Cloud. Through the  hottest part of the summer holiday, the children at SHS SOLE in the village of Shirgaon in Sindhudurg, Maharashtra scrambled to participate in sessions with the Grannies in their newly built lab. They climbed up on chairs and desks just to get a look!

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Anything to get a look! Photo by Suneeta Kulkarni May 2009

 

The brand new grannies were as excited as the children and it was the start of many warm and lasting relationships.

One of these young children was Gouri. She took  to the experience like a duck to water and it was hard for her to give the other children a go at the keyboard and computer. Over the first few months she would rush to school as early as 6:30 am so that she could chat with Anne. Then through yet another Granny’s support [Edna], Gouri and her friends participated in a fairly regular chat group with the children at Edna’s school in far away Melbourne!

Even after the school stopped having Granny sessions, the impact remained. She stayed in touch through my visits to Shirgaon and years later, when she finally had independent access to a phone connected to the internet at least intermittently and the occasional access to her older brother’s laptop, she rekindled her connections with several of the grannies from those early years. Today, she still seeks Rodger’s advise and remembers her time in the SOLE with the grannies very fondly. She articulates those feelings in her faulting but much improved English –

“I learn to keep trust on people… I learn to see with very positive approch towards the people… I can be able to understand between mentality of people… And I am trying for be frank with people … When I started to use SOLE that time I was 12-13 years old… That time I had little bit of knowlede of computer… Then I used to go SOLE… I enjoyed lot of thinks there… First I got a confidence that I can able to operate internate easily … And I understood that it is a wast treasure of knowledge… I can get lot of knowledge… Which helps me lot in last four years… I am getting very confident about computer and I can able to do all things related to computer rather than my other friends….  and video calls on skype gives me lot of very nice friends …when we were going to talk on skype with mediators like Anna, Edna ,Rodger we share much more things with each other related to festivals, studies, Indian culture and all… I remember those days when I eagerly waiting wednesday only for talking with Anna… Now a days I am in a very good contact with Rodger and we chat often on FB … I would like to take his opinion as a advice in some things… We are really good friends… “

 

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Gouri with Anne Dec 2009. Photo by Suneeta Kulkarni

Today, this youngster from a little village who only studied in the regional language [Marathi] has completed her second year year of Engineering College, with distinction, through Mumbai University.

As for me, I look forward to the messages that pop up on FB with her latest chat and the sound of her “MAVSHIiiiii” still reverberates in my ears as I recall being summoned to see her latest discovery all those years ago at SHS SOLE.

For another blog on Gouri do visit: https://www.theschoolinthecloud.org/updates/sole-inspires-teenager-to-follow-her-dreams

I would so like to make this a common experience. There are so many children out there who want and need the grannies of The Granny Cloud. This June 2016 we are crowdfunding to help raise funds to support this initiative. Do help us reach out to many more children across the world.

 

 

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The first SOLE in India was set up in Hyderabad way back towards the end of April in 2008. Among the children who was smitten by the SOLE and all that it could offer was a young girl. It was a concept that was hard for many of the adults to digest and that meant that children didn’t have as much access to it as they wanted and could have easily had.

Still, she tried to be in the SOLE as much as she possibly could, looking quite woebegone when she had to leave. Yet even this limited access made a difference. Within a couple of months, she came up to me and said – “Aunty, you know what I have asked my mother to get me for my birthday? A computer!” and then added – “Earlier, I used to ask for dresses, jewellery, toys; but now all I want is a computer”.

Is this at least as telling as a test score?!

Uh Oh! Simon didn't say!

How else are aspirations changing?

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Driving back from Sindhudurg [and the newest SOLEs] 10 days ago in torrential rain through the ghats, after a scorching 5 days [It always reminds of how appropriate the term ‘jeev ghena ukada‘ ( life sucking heat’) is!] reminded me of our SOLEs and SOMEs Cloud and why that term is so apt. With or without the word ‘Granny’ attached. I’ll settle for eMediator.

It’s something Sugata and I have talked about – the possibility that the term ‘cloud’ might not have the same connotations elsewhere in the world. But here in India….the clouds bring much-needed rain for the crops as well as respite from the heat. And they are anticipated and waited for eagerly.

And that’s what the ‘CLOUD” is all about too… Bringing new ideas, showing the children different worlds, sprinkling parched minds with various possibilities, encouraging the children to bloom.

Yet, all of us, also have a healthy respect for the rains and the havoc they can wreak when they are relentless. The thunder and lightning is often scary, specially when you on the edge of a cliff and visibility is close to zero! And I understand the concerns of the community in the context of the possibility of children exposed to ideas they cannot control, that could take the children far away, that could leave them conflicted and unsure of  the direction in which they should turn, thrown every which way by this deluge of conflicting thoughts, lifestyles, cultural values and much more.

And I feel grateful, yet again, for the commitment and responsibility with which the eMediators choose to be involved. The effort they take to understand the context and culture these children come from brings the best of the clouds and the rains.

It’s the key to what Sugata is talking about in terms of the goals of the SOLEs. It is what is going to help develop that rational belief system.

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