Students brought their grandparents to school to hear stories about their childhood, as part of their history lessons. Pics/ Datta Kumbhar
Students brought their grandparents to school to hear stories about their childhood, as part of their history lessons. Pics /Datta Kumbhar

Who doesn't remember their grandparents' elaborate bedtime stories. Now, imagine how interesting history class would be if they wove the subject into their tales.

CNM School in Vile Parle decided to rope in their students' grandparents to make history lessons come alive. History has been introduced as a subject at the school (ICSE board) from Std IV this year. Until now, there were no textbooks for history, and students were only asked to present a history project based on a particular topic.

Grandma's stories
On Saturday morning, the students of Std IV trooped in with their grandparents in tow. They then proceeded to listen in rapt attention to them talk about their own childhood, how they travelled to school and kept themselves entertained in an age that had no Internet or mobile phones.

"Stories about kings and queens and heroes of India's struggle for independence are always of interest to the new generation. But, the challenge is to make these stories lively and realistic, especially for today's easily bored generation," said Cheryl Mukkath, vice principal of the school, the brain behind the innovative teaching method.

"So, when a child's grandfather says he was a student when India received independence and sweets were distributed at his school, or when a grandmother tells the story of her hometown when kings still ruled, the child's interest will be piqued," she added.

Mukkath continued, "As we introduce history as a subject this year, we don't want the children to consider it an irrelevant topic, but as something that held great importance in the lives of their favourite family members."

Principal Sangita Kukreti said, "We brought in students' grandparents to introduce the students to history as a connection with their families. With interactions on how their grandparents' lives were, children will get a peek into a far more relevant form of history."

Grandparents regaled with stories of the independence struggle and lives before the Internet
Grandparents regaled with stories of the independence struggle and lives before the Internet

Question hour
Groups of grandparents were created and the children threw questions at them, such as, 'how did you spend your time with no gadgets or malls around?', 'How did you celebrate birthdays back then?', 'Did your school have an auditorium or basketball court?', 'Did you go to tuition class?' and so on. A slide show was played with images old style telephones, an old photo of Mumbai etc., which the grandparents elaborated on for the children.

Blast from the past
"History is a vast subject and it is important for children to know about it to be able to connect with the new world. This school took a great step by introducing history to children in such an innovative way," said Harshad Shah, one of the grandparents.
Sadhana Kharkar, a grandmother and former teacher, said, "Involving grandparents means involving the family in the child's studies. With casual interactions like these, children could easily get interested in the subject. There are a lot of stories from our time which will keep children interested in history."