April 25, 2016 RockyFeet

The School of Birds

The school of Birds

Introduction

Birds are everywhere; they survive in arid deserts and polar ice caps as well as in rainforests rich in diversity; they dive in deep oceans and soar above the highest of mountains; they nest in ventilator shafts of city houses to rock-faces of near vertical cliffs. It is evident that owing to this ‘universal’ presence we have given birds a place in our art, culture, mythology and symbology.

The concern

A pair of courting Green Pigeons in Spring 2015

A pair of courting Green Pigeons in Spring 2015

Ecology

The natural world is a complex inter-relationship among its various elements whose dynamics are matters of deep scientific research and analysis.

The rapid growth of humanity over the last 7 decades has seen our population triple, from 2.5 billion to 7.5 billion. This immense growth, along with the growing consumer lifestyle has led to mankind taking control of a huge percentage of the air, water and soil and causing pollution to the extent that is not only detrimental for the rest of the natural world but also us, as individuals or communities or a species as a whole.

This sudden shift in the natural dynamics has led to what we coin as ‘Climate change’ that can be catastrophic for mankind and all other inhabitants we share the natural world with.

Education & Passion

The formal education system in practice incorporates all the necessary elements required to enrich a young mind towards adulthood and survival, but not always in the correct proportion. We believe that Environmental education is one such area where there is scope for further work.

RockyFeet is an organization standing on 3 pillars viz. Explore, Educate & Conserve. The 2nd pillar is designed precisely to address this issue. We are looking to introduce Environmental education is the masses where it is absent and creative ways of making it more interesting and impactful to young minds within communities/schools where Environmental education is already present to a degree.

In general, it is seen that a substantial number of young children are fascinated by the natural world. Birds and butterflies, in general, have a warm place in children’s hearts. Cats and dogs, though not truly wild are the closest allies of mankind.

The Solution

school of bird walk

Birding neighbourhood

  • The idea behind ‘School of Birds’ is to introduce the miraculous natural world to children with birds and birdwatching leading them to its gates. The broader aim of the project is to plant seeds of consciousness towards our natural heritage, in all its richness and to lay the path towards conservation as a way of life.
  • We understand the importance of intelligence & encouragement required in the path of conservation of nature, but  ‘School of Birds’ is designed, not to guide the children towards a pre-selected career path of a ‘Naturalist’ but to open their senses up to an intrinsic passion for the natural world which comes from being an integral part of it.

Implementation

A female Fire-tailed Sunbird

A female Fire-tailed Sunbird

The course is divided into two broad parts and designed for children between the ages of 12 and 14 years old.

  • Life of BirdsFour sessions of wildlife documentary viewing to enable the children to empathize and relate to the Life of birds and the beauty and struggles of Life in general. The four sessions are titled as the following:
  1. Born to flyThis session deals with the growing up of a small chick from hatching till the time it grows its feathers, stretches its wings and take to the skies as an independent adult. Adulthood also means that it is time to find food by oneself which brings us to the next session.
  2. The race for foodLife is a constant search for the next meal. This session deals with the various feeding habits of birds, from chewing on leaves to snacking on insects and diving deep into the open oceans to hunt fish. One of the main motives of survival is to raise the next generation which leads us to the following sessions;
  3. Songs and dancesSome of the most beautiful displays in the animal world are courting birds trying to attract a partner with some beautiful and some bizarre songs and dances that instil a sense of awe. This session involves a catalogue of such wondrous displays that help birds find partners. Once a partnership is formed, it is time to build nests and be responsible parents.
  4. Building homesBirds like other animals go through a lot of struggle to raise tiny and tender young to adulthood. In the end love, passion and dedication must triumph over adversities that Nature throws their way till the day another one takes to the air.

 

  • Backyard BirdsOur backyards and neighbourhoods are home to numerous species of birds of diverse characteristics. A morning walk through a city park can provide colourful glimpses of 30-40 species of birds. An evening spent on the terrace could yield as many as 20-30 species on careful observation. This part of the course is designed to introduce the children to these neighbours we tend to neglect, who are always only a careful glance away.
  1. Know thy neighbourOne interactive classroom session of learning to identify local birds by colours, calls, shapes, sizes and behaviours with the help of video footages and photographs.
  2. Field Trip – No course on Birdwatching is complete without a field trip out in the open, experiencing our feathered friends first hand in their natural habitats out and about in their usual routines. The children will be led on a guided field trip to bird-rich habitats near the school premises to observe and learn more about the birds that inhabit the same locality and breathe the same air as we do.

Expected Outcome

 

Our aim is to tie up nature with children’s sensibilities because they are the foundation and the future of any community. The course is designed to enable children to appreciate true forms of Nature in these dire hours for the world crippled by Climate change.

The broader aim of the Project is to open up children’s’ minds to this beautiful home we call Earth so that they grow up to be environmentally aware and responsible individuals in the changing times ahead.  

 

Work Executed

We have already conducted sessions on ‘School of Birds’ at the following locations;

  1. Kalyan Sangha – A non-governmental organization dedicated towards social welfare and education in the twin villages of Chandra and Netkamla in Bankura, West Bengal. Total number of children – 82
  2. The below schools under numbers 2 to 5 are primary schools located in the twin villages of Lakshmipur and Bishnupur in the Sunderbans region in West Bengal. The work was done in association with the non-governmental organization, The Mitra Society. Total number of children – 72
  • Bishnupur Abaitanik Prathomik Bidyalay – 25 children
  • Lakshmipur-Mokhyoda Abaitanik Prathomik Bidyalay – 15 children
  • Lakshmipur-Gourangapally Prathomik Bidyalay – 12 children
  • Bidhanpally Prathomik Bidyalay – 20 children
  • Kalikapur Refugee Free Primary School, Kolkata – 50 children

Future Operations

School of Birds is an ongoing venture and we do not believe in a rigid structure. The immediate future plans are to introduce new classroom sessions apart from the ones discussed already. The new sessions planned would be on ‘Bird Migration’ and ‘Birds and Humanity’. We want to reach out to all the children who have gone through the course already with these additional sessions.

In addition to that we have been invited to the remote villages of Shachukul and Tharup in Ladakh to execute the work in two schools;

  1. Government Secondary School, Tharup – 150 children approx.
  2. Sherab Gatsalling Gompa School, Shachukul – 45 children approx.

 

We look forward to reach out to children from various communities with our Project. This will help us identify the perceptions and crises related to the environment existent in the varied communities and layers of society.

Documenting the process will help us in addressing the further requirements to streamline the course to achieve its objective. Publishing and publicizing it should help other ones of its kind to flourish throughout the country, and the world.   

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