Every night, the twins demand a story before they agree to sleep. It is almost a ritual these days. Milk, story, prayers, snooze. We follow it to the T. There is some cribbing over the milk or the choice of story, but usually, it is amicably settled.
Initially, when I started on the tales, I would look for stories which had morals in them. I would hunt for short story books and even made an attempt to get the kids to go through picture books. They did take to it initially, but later on, much to my dismay, they preferred my story-telling over their own reading .
Anyhow, so there was this story about a blue umbrella which was a favourite with them. There’s a movie by the same name, but I haven’t seen it. I just took the premise of a girl who had a blue umbrella, how she loses it and then finds it back again.
A couple of nights back, as we were settling in for the night, with Lui on my right and Shobby on my left, the kids insisted that they wanted the blue umbrella story. Something inside me clicked right then. Why shouldn’t I show them what a blue Japanese umbrella looks like? So I whipped out my new phone, logged in to the Wi-fi and searched for “japanese umbrellas”. The search page quickly filled up a hundred images of breath-taking japanese umbrellas. The twins were awestruck. It was almost as if they were looking at a wonderland! I scrolled down looking for an umbrella which was blue. Finally found it and clicked on it. This was that image:-
Lui and Shobbs looked at the image with awe, mouth agape. Slowly, Lui whispers, “Mumma, it is so beautiful. Maine itna beautiful pehle kabhi nahin dekhi”. Shobby turns the phone towards himself and looks at the image adoringly. Then he turns to look at me. It is a look so full of delight that I’m shocked! I just showed them a simple snap downloaded from the net, yet the two were behaving as though they have been transported to another land!
And I wondered again, about the power of the net. I don’t let the kids sit in front of the laptop unless they want to see the kung-Fu Panda movie or their personal favorite, “How To train your dragon”. I’ve never shown them anything on the internet as such. My personal aim is to get them into the habit of reading first. But for moments like these, I don’t have a book handy to show the kids what a Japanese umbrella looks like. Its the net that did the needful. And no doubt, there are many more things that I have at the tip of my fingers. Each time the kids ask me something, I just have to press a few buttons and Voila! the answers are here.
Something inside me repels this notion of easy access. My scope of knowledge is obtained from innumerable books that I’ve read right since my childhood. I remember going through volumes of Encyclopedia Brittanica and the huge books on “How”, “Why”, “Where” published by Reader’s Digest. That information still resides with me. With the internet, I get to learn something new, but it doesn’t stay. A month from now, I’ll forget about it. The worst part is that, the forgetting will not bother me. Because I just have to type in a few words and I can retrieve that information again. In a way, I stop straining the grey cells to retain information.
This is something which I want to keep the kids away from. Immediate, easily found information will not stay with them long. The best part about retaining knowledge is the effort that goes behind obtaining it. The hunting, the rejections, the ultimate satisfaction of having found the right answers. This is what I want my kids to indulge in.
But since I downloaded the blue umbrella image, each time my children beg me to show them the umbrella, its the phone I pull out and not any book
Going around in circles, aren’t I?!
I do want my children to go the conventional way in learning but I don’t want them to be ignorant of technology either. The problem is that the technology route is far easier and quicker but less permanent
And my dilemma continues………..