Kidding the kid's lessons

Seram Neken *

Learning English

When the past and the present are in good terms, the best future can be produced. So, parents should be best friends of and role models to their children. My endeavour to remain a best friend of my two sons normally puts me in hectic schedule, even more tightly during school examinations.

In the beginning, Hindi and Meetei Mayek lessons made me highly uncomfortable. But luckily today, I am amply benefited with these hardships that I am able to at least read both the languages. Thanks to my small best friends.

Education with entertainment, often termed as Edutainment is the most useful and familiar technique of teaching the kids. Listening carefully is more adaptive to learning lessons than just reading the story loudly. So as to make my sons attentive to lessons, I use a different type of narration out of their books. It easily catches their minds.

Interestingly, they have developed aptitudes for academic argumentation and discussion.

It's all about a little but grossly benefited argument Master Jaison Seram and I had on his English grammar lessons.

One day, I had to intervene in his reading of English text book, as he read the question as "Have you a pen ?" and the answer as "No, I have not a pen but I have a pencil." I expressed my opinion that the question should be "Do you have a pen ?" and the reply should be " No, I don't have a pen but I have a pencil."

He quickly rejected my correction with concrete proof in his Conversation text book. I was confused and failed to convince him the moment he referred to the text book. On further inspection, I found silly spelling and grammatical mistakes in his text books.

The Class-I English text book currently prescribed for students under the Board of Secondary Education, Manipur has lots of mistakes ranging from spelling errors to grammatical irregularities.

English-I text book, in its page numbers 8, 20, 40 and 42 have spelling errors such as "a oval" for "an oval", "Fingures" for "Fingers", "Hanger" for "Hangar", "Next" for "Nest" and "You" for "Your".

Question marks (?) are put where it should not be - such as: "This is equal on all sides ?" (English-I text book, page no. 8, Unit-I for Class-I, Manipur Board) and "What a beautiful flower ?" (page no. 45).

At page number 56 of the book, a picture of a boy with his finger pointing to a house says that "This is my home." It should be "This is my house." as home is not a concrete noun. There are also lots of mistakes in putting articles a, an and the before words.

English conversation book has also lots of mistakes such as "How many brothers have you ?" instead of "How many brothers do you have ?" (English conversation text book, page 7, lesson no. 4 of class-I).

At page 8, it is written as "How many brothers has he?" and "How many sisters has he?". It should be written as "How many brothers do you have ?" and "How many sisters do you have ?".

It is wrongly written at page no. 13 as "What do taste with, Peter?" and answer is written as "I taste with my tongue." The question should be "What do you taste with, Peter?"

Many mistakes of such nature remain in these kid's text books, not only for class-I. It is not uncommon that text books for lower classes prescribed by the authority contain lots of avoidable errors.

More common is evident in English and Meetei Mayek text books. If the beginners are taught wrongly in their foundations, it amounts to misguiding the small children. If the books sometimes contain errors due to printing mistakes or negligence of composers, the teacher in the class should make due corrections.

Sometime back, a question in English Grammar made my elder son Jonarth Seram totally confused. The question for class-V English was "Put question forms to the following: a). You are not alone, " My son simply put question forms of the given sentence as " Are you alone ?"

But the teacher rejected the answer as wrong and gave no mark at all, thereby losing as much as 15 marks in this paper. On enquiry, the teacher said that it should be answered as "Aren't you?" The teacher and the text book equally understood the same for 'Question tag'. I strongly argued that the question should have been written as "put question tags to the following:"

In another example, the same question paper somewhere read "Give the verb forms of the following: a) Come b) Drive c) Eat". As these words were already verb forms, my son gave the answer as it were.

Again the teacher refused to give any mark. In fact, the teacher wanted the students to write tense forms of the given verbs. I was again defeated as these mistakes were already there in the text books.

It is very necessary for the authority, the parents and the school teachers to make timely corrections of these mistakes so that the tender minds are not wrongly taught in schools.

This writer appeals to the Manipur Board of Secondary Education, the Education department of the state and the school authorities to have a discussion on the matter, form an expert committee and make due corrections in time so that kidding in kid's lessons stops here.

* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition). The writer is a free-lance Columnist. This article was posted on September 22, 2011.

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