Handicrafts have been an essential part of rural lifestyle across the globe. They have been known to serve purposes of either ornamentation, as gifting items esp as dowry in the Indian marital setups, or as items of everyday utilities, like the moonj grass storage baskets or the wooden cutlery sets. However, it’s usage in the education sector or as a tool of knowledge dissemination has not yet been explored. A fueled push in this direction can vectorize the growth of these indigenous practices. I have listed below my thoughts on how it can be done.
- Use of handcrafted toys and games to make learning more inclusive and participatory. For eg, Use of handcrafted trump cards (imagine cards with folk paintings like kalamkari, picchwai, warli etc)as educational games, the use of Wood lacquerware toys for calculations in kindergarten or the use of hand made/sewn/painted toys for story telling. Eg, using the hand painted kavads of Rajasthan, India to narrate stories of Panchatantra or even A Christmas Carol!
- Use of naturally procured and processed learning tools to instill the idea of sustainability right from the start and sensitize children towards their environment. For instance, the use of naturally dyed patches/swatches for encouraging inclination towards natural colours instead of the quasi/ computer generated RGBs that we are exposed to. Likewise, using thoughtfully crafted copper bells (predominantly made in Kutch, Gujarat, India) for enhancing auditory reception in preparatory classes. Another example that comes to mind is the use of handcrafted wooden rulers. (The very thought of it excites me !.. visualize a wooden ruler with exquisitely inscribed metrics or a ruler with a sophisticated sadeli woodwork (marquetary) band on one edge.)
- Handcrafted DIY kits to instill self reliance (atmanirbhar)among teens which would further strengthen the spirit of entrepreneurship among future adults. For eg, a DIY block printed notebook kit in the primary or the junior level or a DIY rag rugs exercise or DIY hammocks using macramé. So much so, the DIY practice would only better the motor skills making students more agile and dextrous.
- WYOH- Wear Your Handicrafts. Promoting once a week/fortnight/month handcrafted garments for students as well as teachers and organizing open sessions for the display and exchange of the know hows of the craft. Not only would this approach help understand local crafts better but would also promote cross culture interactions. It could also encourage better observation, art appreciation and problem solving abilities in children.
- Communication through crafts about the basic hygiene and sanitation etiquettes, traffic rules, use of Golden words and other subjects of Moral Science can be one way of using crafts as a medium to ensure wider reception of such lifestyle elevating norms.
Handicrafts can be one of the most suitable home grown substitutes for the present day plastic produce loaded in the market quoting educational needs. Not only will its use be a source of regular and sufficing income for the artisans..It would also trigger innovation and impact oriented interventions in these indigenous practices.
Images from top to bottom : Madhubani folk part paintings from Bihar, India, Copper bells from Kutch-Bhuj, Gujarat and puppets of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.