Guryaman Walia enters his classroom, but instead of a blackboard, an LCD television and a gaming console confront the eight-year-old. This is part of his virtual music class.
In an attempt to break away from traditional teaching techniques that Gen Next students have tired of, a Malad school has introduced videogaming as part of their curriculum from Class 3 to 5.
They have introduced the Nintendo Wii — an interactive gaming console with motion sensors. The Wii is part of their physical education and music classes. The console allows a child to play games like tennis, bowling and baseball. For example, if a child wants to play a backhand in tennis, he will physically have to do it and the motion sensor in the game will detect it and the ball will move in that direction. It is the same with guitar and drums.
“We have to keep up with the generation and we wanted to make school a more fun experience. The class is only once a week, so it is an experience they look forward to. Their whole attitude to school has changed. It has become cool now,” said Zarin Virji, principal of Universal High School, which is affiliated to the ICSE board.
The board allows flexible curriculum and methods of teaching till Class 8. “Also, this will help judge a child’s inclination towards the actual sport or musical instrument and encourage him to take it up.”
For Guryaman, school is now “awesome” and he loves the guitar.
Parents, after the initial shock, are now excited about the concept. “I didn’t even know what the Wii was, but I was a little taken aback at the concept of a videogame in school,” said Guryaman’s mother, Vandana. The Andheri resident then tried out the game herself and thoroughly enjoyed it. “I saw the joy on my son’s face when he played it and it is only for 30 minutes a week and these 30 minutes have made him love school. We have to break out of these old parenting attitudes. The game has also helped his hand-eye coordination.”
But educationists have their own doubts. “The children might demand it at home too and parents will have to deal with an additional tantrum, especially at such a young age,” said Arundhati Chavan, an educationist who has been in the field for 18 years. “Also, if schools start allowing videogames, then parents can never refuse their children. It will be okay to play these games and become part of culture like junk food.”