The Outdoor Classroom- A Life Sans Screens

It was 9 a.m. Ten-year-old Nyonika was busy playing ‘Guns and Booms’, her favourite game, on her mother’s iPad.

“Nyonika, come quickly, have your breakfast,” her mother’s voice rose irritably with every passing minute. She couldn’t stand Nyonika’s self-damaging behaviour.

Nyonika sighed as she paused the game and got up, her eyes still on the gadget.

“Mom, I rarely get a holiday from school. And you don’t allow me to switch on TV on the pretext of disturbing Granny,” Nyonika raised her voice just a little bit to convince her mother that she had the right to get hooked on the iPad or mobile on holidays.

Nyonika studied at Glen International School, Gurgaon. It was one of the most sophisticated schools in the vicinity. Most of the subjects were taught using the latest educational equipment like Smartboards and the like. They relied on YouTube videos to do their projects etc. High school students were even allowed to bring tablets and mobiles to school.

“Ok, Nyonika. Today, I am going to Kavya’s school to pay her board exam fees and give her some coaching material. Do you want to come? We can have lunch at Pricey Pizzeria on the way back.”

“Really!” Nyonika rolled her eyes in joy.

Though visiting a government school wasn’t her cup of tea, she would go ten times over if she could get a pizza treat.

Kavya was their maid Lalli’s daughter. She studied in class 10. Nyonika’s family supported Kavya’s education.


A cool breeze from the tall trees on the grounds of Government Girls Senior Secondary School welcomed Nyonika and her mother as they entered. Nyonika could see some girls seated in neat rows on the clean playground. A teacher was pointing toward the various parts of the tree.

Nyonika went near and lingered for a few minutes, listening attentively.

“Perhaps a science class is in progress,” said a voice.

Nyonika turned and hugged Kavya in delight.

“Didi, why is the teacher taking so much trouble? She can explain all this in a jiffy using educational videos like they do in our school.”

Kavya shook her head.

“Nyoni, I strongly feel that videos, PowerPoint or even AI, which are an integral part of learning nowadays and even advocated by school administration, can never replace real-time learning. Most of my learning has happened on these grounds. Yes, most of us do not have the gadgets and can’t buy them either but I hardly miss them. We plant and nurture trees, organize cleanliness drives, and learn a lot about organisms. Students organize ‘melas’ with the help of teachers. In addition to this, high school students are taken to colleges, hospitals, and research labs to witness and learn about the latest tools and equipment that steers the industry and economy.”

Nyonika was spellbound by Kavya’s animated narration. For the first time, she felt her love for gadgets and screens diminish like a burnt-out candle that can never be replaced to its former size and glory.

Indeed, the outdoor classroom is not available on the Google Play Store!








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