Judge Eric Profancik wonders what school cafeterias in largely vegetarian India use in place of mystery meat.
Going to school can be fun.
The mundanity of life. We experience the same things day after day, whereby they become routine and thus think nothing of them; we become unconcerned with the little things in life. We could be talking about anything, but let's focus on going to school. Most of us are no longer in school, but we all know what it was like. We used to either walk or take a bus to a boring brick building with defined classrooms, an auditorium, a gym, and maybe a cafeteria. From Maine to California, that's pretty much the way it is. Things have changed over time, and now kids have to deal with complex societal issues and metal detectors, but they still go to school to those same boring four walls.
Day after day we went to class, but rarely did we give a second thought to going to school around the world. Fortunately somebody else did give it a thought, and now we have this educational video, Going to School in India. I think we all have some general notions about India, but I doubt any of them have anything to do with schools. This DVD shows us how amazingly different it is to be a child attending school throughout India. In many parts of that country, it's completely different from what we've numbed to over our life; and seeing it will make you remember just how wonderfully diverse the world is.
Going to School in India is a compilation of nine short films detailing how "nine" different children go to and attend school throughout India. (I say "nine" because eight of the segments focus on one child, while one segment features three children.) Each segment showcases a fascinating snippet of life, how education has evolved to suit its surroundings, and how tradition comes up against modern thinking. The nine different ways in which children go to school in India are:
• On a Boat
• In a Bus
• In a Tribe
• In a Mud Desert
• In the Dark
• On Wheels
• On a Mountaintop
• In a Monastery
Each segment is narrated by "one" young child, with each following an outline of introducing themselves, their village, their school, and their life. The matter-of-fact narration from each child shocks you with the simple acceptance of how different life can be. You make the best of your surroundings and adapt to it, being as happy and productive as possible. It's a refreshing lesson in life, customs, and, of course, education.
This educational disc will be a wonderful eye-opener for young children who know little else of schooling beyond their own four walls. The massive differences of these Indian schools will surprise children, but also hopefully open up their minds to the richness of our planet. What will truly bring it home is the variety and stark differences from one segment to the next, no more powerful than the contrast between the first two. In "on a boat," Zalida lives on the water, surrounded by lush, green vegetation. The children go to school in the open, play in the water, and use the fauna to learn and live. In "on a bus," Saddam lives in the dirty, busy city of Bombay, surrounded by thousands of people, crammed into a tiny bus that sometimes has to act like a real bus. The serenity of Kashmir compared against the bustle of Bombay is startling. When all ten segments are viewed, children will definitely learn something. But, even though only 74 minutes long, the repetitious nature of each segment might not maintain the ADD children of today, and this disc may have be broken apart across several days to view, albeit reducing its immediate effectiveness.
While the overall message of this disc is optimistic and about embracing one's environment, two segments deviate from that theme. First, "in a mud desert" shows us a young boy quite unhappy with his desert surroundings. He constantly speaks of getting away from that place, to someplace not so harsh. All the other children love where they live and want to stay. Second, "on wheels" is quite different because it's not so much about the school but about the child in the wheelchair. This isn't a bad thing, but it doesn't fit in with the rest of the stories.
This is an educational video and not really something you'd be rushing out to buy or rent (especially since it's currently only available from the company website—and probably direct to schools). As that's the case, a thorough technical discussion isn't a pressing need. In brief, the video transfer (which I posit as 2.35:1 anamorphic) is good overall, with realistic colors and nice details. At times, the picture does feel a bit fuzzy with an occasional bit of shimmering and aliasing. The audio track is bold and clear with no problems in hearing every piece of dialogue. Subtitles are available on the disc, but I found it odd that when the children speak Hindi, that wasn't translated. (Note each segment is narrated with little talking directly to the camera.) There are no bonus items on the DVD.
I give this disc a big recommendation for classroom viewing. Anything and everything that helps to broaden children's minds is worthwhile, and Going to School in India will definitely accomplish that.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Global Fund for Children
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