|Photographed by K. Ramnath Chandrasekhar|
Today’s class was interesting as I had decided to bring awareness about a topic that was close to home using this picture. The children had to observe the picture and come to a conclusion as to what was happening and give evidence to the claim they make.
Shahul observed that these looked like poor villagers transporting sand to build mud houses as they couldn’t afford concrete houses. Cessie agreed with Sal and mentioned that they transport mud to make their home and wet sand was needed for it. When questioned what is the difference mud and sand and do they use sand to build mud houses, they thought maybe clayey soil or sand mixed with water is mud.
Izzy mentioned that they were transporting the sand as construction material to other places. Saharban told that it looked like they were collecting even wooden planks to help construct their houses or they were using the wood for making more carts. That’s when Mooz jumped in with his observation that one cart was empty and turned in the opposite direction which meant that they kept going back to get more and more sand. Ruqayyah observed that they seemed to have travelled far away for transporting the sand and were just in the middle of a vast plain where it had rained as there were water puddles and agreed with Mooz’s observation of one cart going to get more sand perhaps. On closer look, they all agreed that the wooden planks were in place to hold the sand, filled to the cart’s brim, from slipping off.
The caption of the picture was revealed and we zoomed in on the picture, we could see the blurred images of at least three earthmover equipment mining sand. I referred them to the photo story by noted conservationist and educator, Ramnath Chandrasekhar, on how monsoon failure and dry rivers leads people on a sand mining spree. We discussed the dire consequences of this environmental imbalance which sometimes even leads to the river changing course or disappearing entirely not to mention how people lose life in this illegal sand mining incidents.
The children were shocked to know the details and had many questions on why does the government not intervene, how can someone continue to destroy natural resources despite knowing the consequences and how were they permitted to wreak such havoc in society. Does the construction industry deploy such means to procure their material and are they not aware of the illegal sources of their material? Questions, that are very difficult to answer by any one person.
The impact this activity has on these young minds is tremendous. Some of the outcomes are the ability to observe, analyse for evidence to back their observations, form thoughts and voice their opinions, accept others’ perception even when it did not align with one’s perception along with learning to take a stand for what is right. All this not mentioning the awareness created about social issues. Can I ask for more in an English class for grade 7 as I foresee influencers being shaped out of my students?
- Naqeeb Sultana
Middle School English Teacher