When I started our first Vacation batch as I launched The Genius in 1990, I did not dream of presiding over an institution that would take root and reach legendary proportions. No, we haven't grown into a Leviathan - uncontrollable, unwieldy, unwept, unhonoured, unsung - nor into a factory relentlessly producing success stories by the dozen that we can splash in colour ads in newspapers!
We have remained a home for fun for hundreds (nay, thousands!) of young people from age 5 to 17, people who grow up, spread around the world, and occasionally come back to us through their emails, their occasional visits, sometimes with a bouquet on my birthday, and sometimes with an invitation for a wedding where Aunty and I become honoured guests.
Our Summer Programme (tradition holds me back from shortening it to the more rational spelling) started from 1st May 2008, and temperatures soon soared to 43 C. Coolers pumping in air at lowered temperatures didn't really help much!
A month has gone by, and I am retrospecting ...
The students of class 7 to 12 watched a 30-minute clip from the 55-year old film "Julius Caesar" starring Marlon Brando, James Mason, John Gielgud, and such other Shakespearean actors. We showed them the assassination scene and the funeral orations thereafter. We chose Brutus' speech - "...not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more!" - for students from class 9 upward to learn up and declaim. The younger ones were given Mark Antony's famous words that end with "Mischief thou art afoot; take thou what course thou wilt!" What a show there was, my readers, whilst all of us felt the words take hold of our hearts and minds and take them to the great historic scene in glorious Rome on the Ides of March, 44 BCE past Shakespeare's Globe, bypassing Plutarch, and all those that dealt with the historic event and the memorable scene.
Anand, Mandvika, and Garima are now planning a fun session with the Dictionary. All the students would bring their dictionaries, and for the first time in their lives, they would look at the symbols that indicate the way a word is pronounced. I do not feel proud when I use the words 'for the first time in their lives' - it is the unfortunate lot of so many of them that most homes and schools do not teach them how to accent the words, how to discover pronunciation for themselves, and also, to read up meanings of the new words that they encounter in the course of their education.
In our session, students would be handling words that are commonly mispronounced - dais, memento, bizarre, chameleon, tortoise. English is not a phonetic language like Hindi is and hence it cannot be picked up, it needs to be learnt. We do not teach the language, but we do show our youngsters how to learn it for themselves.
In the next post, I shall tell you about all that we do with the children of class 6 down to Kindergarten.