Welcome winds of change

Shabiha Nur Khatoon

In an effort to make ICSE literature syllabus more modern and appealing, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations has introduced a handful of popular titles. Many English teachers believe the new syllabus will go a long way in inculcating love of reading in students. However, others are of the view that it lacks balance as classics have been given a short shrift….

Harry-Pooter-1Gone are the days when kids used to harbour a secret sense of guilt when poring over comics during study time, hiding them, before one could bat an eyelid, at the sight of their parents. However, with the dawn of a new era in teaching-learning, the outlook of parents and society at large has undergone a radical makeover. Favourite comic books have made their way into the school syllabi.

From now on, parents and teachers will encourage students to read comics. In an effort to include contemporary literature, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, which conducts the ICSE and ISC board examinations, has updated the literature syllabus – to be adopted from the 2017-18 academic session – by adding many modern and popular titles.

We all love to spend ecstatic hours immersed in our favourite comics and storybooks. School students who are fanatical admirers of fictional heroes such as Harry Potter and Tintin will surely welcome the new ICSE syllabus. 

The new books have been included in the English literature syllabus for all junior and middle-school students across the country. Some of the new inclusions include graphic novels like ‘Amar Chitra Katha’ and American cartoonist Art Spiegelman’s Holocaust saga `Maus’ for students from Classes III to VIII, who will also enjoy reading mystery stories of the great detectives Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes.

Students can undertake impossible adventures in faraway lands with Bilbo Baggins of ‘The Hobbit’, which has been included in the syllabus. Among the new additions are PG Wodehouse’s novels and literary classics like the works of Charles Dickens.
Biographies of inspiring personalities from Anne Frank to Pakistani activist and youngest Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai to the late Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam have been introduced for the first time.

For tiny tots – students of Classes I and II – the syllabus features titles from the favourite Noddy series.

While the introduction of contemporary and pop literature in the school syllabus is new in western countries, no Indian board has ever taken such a decision before. However, to what extent the proposed changes would affect teaching-learning remains to be seen.
Sunday POST speaks to academics and students on the proposed additions in the literature syllabus and how they are likely to achieve ICSE’s goal of making the syllabus more modern.

Nisha has studied the positive impact of a therapeutic vacation on elderly people. She says: “Therapeutic vacations do help the elderly by reducing stress but not as much as they help middle-aged professionals. The reason being that elderly people have more control over their thoughts; they do not accept change as fast as the current generation does. Even if they visit a new place, they spend most of the time thinking about their problems. Rather than taking them to a vacation it is better to take them to their native place or their relatives’ places.”

Nisha adds that due to the pressure of workload on professionals, a vacation seems like just another task on the to-do list. Getting back to work after a vacation makes workers feel less tense and stressed, and they are more likely to be in a good mood and work more energetically.

Sunday POST speaks with a group of professionals on the importance of taking occasional vacations that have, according to experts, a therapeutic value.

Kartik Aggarwal, a businessman based in Delhi, says: “I truly believe that ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. I run my own restaurant and work 24X7. But there comes a time when I crave a vacation, at least for a week in six months. Holidays rejuvenate me and prepare me for work. I am planning a trip to Goa in the coming month as the weather is amazing there. The presence of friends makes it all the more special. For me, small trips are great stress busters.”

Geetanshu Kansal, a marketing associate, believes the urge to take a break from work comes from within and no doctor or counsellor can advice you unless and until you are interested to take a break from daily affairs.

“Doctors and counsellors may suggest that you go on a vacation to refresh your mind and body, but the urge almost always comes from within. There are times when you feel you badly need a break. It is not necessary that it has to be only from work; however, sometime one also needs a break from one’s surroundings. There are number of reasons in everyone’s life that cause stress and when you feel stress is weighing you down, you should spend a pleasant vacation in a peaceful place where you get the opportunity to experience serenity and peace,” says Geetanshu.

“At times it is about finding answers to your messed up life; at others it is your need to relax a bit in a tranquil setting. The choice of time and place is, of course, an individual affair,” he adds.

Vacation time is ideal for not only relieving stress but also increasing productivity and performance. Assuming your vacation is a restful, restorative one, taking time off gives you a valuable break from the everyday grind, a time to recoup and avoid burnout says, Dr Jagat Ballav Jagdev, a
consulting urologist.

Dr Jagdev opines that the concept of a vacation was invented by companies back in the early part of the 20th century as a tool to boost productivity. “We all want to go on a vacation, take a break from daily affairs, run away from all the duties of everyday life and just let our hair down. When you need to rejuvenate your mind and body, healing holidays can help restore your energy. Take the chance to heal and revive your spirit by discovering the beauty of exotic surroundings complemented by a wide range of holistic therapies that improve health and ensure well-being.”

Clinical psychologist Kaustubhi Shukla says ‘holidaying’ or ‘vacationing’ as popularly known in the West is central to many cultures and religions that have flourished in India. “Gaman” (a Hindi word) or pilgrimage has found a mention in the last of the Vedas, Atharva Veda, as a psychotherapeutic technique for healing and mental rejuvenation.

“Travelling to new destinations facilitates exposure to, and sensitisation with, other cultures, unplugging one mentally and physically from the daily chores. It also provides the opportunity for exploration and adventure,” says Dr Shukla.

“All these factors are rejuvenating that assist in stress-reduction and increase productivity. With increased emphasis on eco-tourism and dedicated government tourism departments as well as specialised tourist operators, a host of national and international travel options are open,” she says.

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