Thinking Curriculum

Kalam’s new grassroots journalism program is beginning its work on the ground in October 07 — after school exams and after Calcutta’s famous festival Durga Puja. Until then, we at Kalam are engaged in the necessary imaginative and logistical ground work for Neighbourhood Diaries.

The Logistics? We’re meeting up with various local NGOs that work in various slum neighborhoods, to discuss the vision of Neighbourhood Diaries and the pragmatics of implementing the program. We have yet to finalize who are partners will be for pilot phase — but that decision will be made very soon.

The Imagination? Curriculum. Kalam has been facilitating writing workshops in various genres with adolescents for three years now. Neighborhood Journalism is something we’ve experimented with in different contexts and situations. Now, we’re working on consolidating our activities and lessons of Neighborhood Journalism into a curriculum. The Neighbourhood Diaries curriculum will be rooted in skills of critical visual literacy, ethnographic research, creative journalism, and digital literacy. Thematically, the the curriculum will be steeped in understanding, researching and writing about our Neighbourhoods through identities of our self, our community, and our experience of place. Thematically, our curriculum will explore the following ideas:

Self… Exploring the self: how do others see us? How do we see ourselves? Talk about Identities. Activity/Writing Activity: Locating one object with which you identify, or something that symbolizes your self-perceived or self-defined identity. Photo Assignment: Self-portrait and Photo of the identity object. Self-inquiry; developing the spirit of questioning/interrogating self and beyond.

Home… Home as a space which is a mixture of both desirable and undesirable elements. A part of your home you like, a part of your home you do not like that much (What memories are associated with these spaces? What issues come up?). A part of your home you like, a part of your home you do not like that much. Objective: Critical consciousness of personal space.

Experience of Place… Two specific places in the neighbourhood that has significance for you… description, daily activities, histories. Vignettes, focusing on details and based on observation and researched histories. Photo Assignment: Photographs of the places, from different angles/perspectives or at different times of the day, representing different aspects of the same physical spot. Developing research skills, consciousness of subaltern histories.

Neighbours, Community, People Discussion: Looking at people as characters. Writing Activity: Select one person in the neighbourhood and make a Portrait Sketch, based on observation, interview, researched personal histories. Photo Assignment: Portraits + Photo series depicting the daily life of the subject. Researching Life Stories.

Through the end of monsoon we hope to finalize a draft our working curriculum. Of course, we are certain that as we begin our workshops on the ground, planned sessions will alter, new themes will emerge, ideas will transform. And we are looking forward the insight Experience will offer.