Saturday, 27th November, was a day on which all the planning and preparation for the visit to the National Museum in New Delhi would be tested. Students and teachers had all geared up for the ‘First Educational field trip’ keeping in mind how curricular understanding and skills taught in the different subjects could support their understanding of Historical Sources.
The students prepared for the trip by first surfing through a wonderful website http://web.singnet.com.sg/thiens/story1.htm which helped them get a glimpse of what they would be studying at the museum. The history teacher had visited the museum and created a slide show which she showed. There were discussions about the sources. Teachers and students together designed a field book keeping in mind the current objective of the History curriculum –a study of primary and secondary sources of historical information through their upcoming unit the ‘Harappan Civilization’.
On the way to the museum, the students marked the route from their homes to the Museum on the map provided to them in the field book. On reaching the Museum their attention was captivated by the magnificent Chariot displayed right at the entrance.
We entered the Harappan gallery where the students spent time carefully observing the details of each display and reading up the write ups. Students were curious and surprised to see the displays which depicted the similarities to modern times – the utensils and the ornaments, the layout of cities, games, embellishments on drapery. They appreciated the miniature and skilled craftsmanship of the artists and were inquisitive about burial practices, and tomb offerings, the tools used for agriculture and the scales and weights used for measurement during the 2700B.C. all of which gave them an insight into how such artefacts are used to draw historical conclusions,
Next the students got down to recording their learning on related task sheets and completing the questionnaires that they themselves had made, prior to the visit to set the focus for the visit. They moved from one corner of the gallery to the other to ensure that they were very precise and accurate regarding the information which they were noting and had not missed out on what they had intended to find out about.
A long conversation and discussion with the curator Mr R.S Atal (Lecturing and Education Department) was the next activity. It helped the students to go deeper to understand the uniqueness of the seals that depicted the lifestyle of the people living during those times, which we as lay people might have ignored. He was very passionate in explaining to the students the various techniques used during the Harappan civilization in art-the color technique and the model making. He also discussed with the students how it is important to differentiate between prediction and reality when we study History. He shared with us how these terms are different but yet interrelated.
Students asked questions regarding scientific integration in History and how Science was used during the Harappan civilization. The question and answer session would not have ended if teachers had not intervened in order to maintain planned schedules.
Students returned having learnt the skill of using community resources to enhance their learning and armed with information to proceed with their project.
Article by: Tanwinder Kohli
Social Sciences Teacher
Middle School- Pathways Gurgaon