The Matriarchs were groomed in the eighties with regard to ideologies, ideals, ideas and their chosen vocation—education and what is today called sustainable development. There were many khadi-clad people who inspired them and several of their generation. One such inspiration was Dr. Arvind Gupta, who received the Padma Shri last week.
Arvind Gupta, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur, has dedicated his life to popularizing science and making science education accessible–through demonstrating how everyday, low-cost materials can be used to teach science. His core belief is that children learn best ‘by touching, feeling, cutting, sticking — pulling things apart, putting them apart..’ and his mission is to empower educators to create simple toys and educational experiments using locally available materials—the ‘Toys from Trash’ approach.
We stand testimony to the fact that adults too find this fascinating—I can recall informal sessions at our Centre, where he would enthrall all of us with a series demonstrations using drinking straws, balloons, ball-pen refills, match sticks, rubber bands etc., and suddenly things we had learnt years ago in our science classes, made sense at last!
In today’s world, when we increasingly think that quality education means high-tech, high-cost kits and labs and aids, the Padma Shri should in fact reinforce the message that quality education has little to do with money, and much more to do with the ingenuity, creativity and commitment of educators and teachers. A good way to encapsulate his message to educators is his motto:
‘The whole world is a garbage pit
Collect some junk and make a kit.’
Thank you Arvindji, from two people you have inspired!
PS: Do view his TED Talk: Turning Trash into Toys for learning, rated among the best education related TEDs by many.