Wake Up and Smell the World: The Role of Current Affairs in a Student's Life!
By Saurav Sharath and Vaishnavi Rao
The need to stay current with the news and to be aware of what’s happening around has only grown to become a requirement of a 21st-century student. This is something I’ve understood and implemented better as a QShala facilitator. As a playful student, however, the story was completely different.
When I was a 10th-grade kid, I would start every weekend waking up to the sun beating through my window at an angle that would say its 11 am. I would eventually manage to get myself out of bed and drag my lazy body to brush my teeth with eyes still half shut.
As I make my way to the TV room to catch up on all the shows I’ve missed during the weekday, I can hear my father shout from his room “Saurav go read the newspaper”. I reluctantly dally across towards the newspaper that is sitting on the coffee table. I soon realise that only my legs seem to be moving while the rest of me still yearns for my TV shows.
I quickly crumple up the newspaper to make it seem like I have voraciously read each headline and scrutinised every article there is. In truth, all I do is skip over to the sports section to read the big words and admire the pictures. The importance of staying current with the news did not seem to matter to me or even worse, it was something I could not comprehend.
Fast forward a few years to the period right after my 12th-grade exams. This was when I decided to enrich my portfolio and do an internship. So, I headed out for my interview in the most formal clothes I could find and a copy of all the notes I had made in class. After a long wait, I was finally directed to the Interview room. I sat at the interview room rather confident and eyes still half shut. Enter Mr Murthy, my interviewer, “What do you think of Sachin Bansal’s deal with Walmart?” My half-shut eyes were now wide open!
“Who is this Sachin he’s talking about.” “Is he pronouncing Tendulkar wrong.” I thought to myself as I rummaged my notes for this new Sachin.
All I could think about on the way home was my dad’s voice in the background shouting “Saurav go read the newspaper.”
In QShala current affairs is not just a part of the quizzes, but finds its way into our classes, conversations, WhatsApp groups, and even our meetings. We believe children need to cultivate the habit of reading a newspaper from a very young age. Through our sessions, we look to make children more aware of their surroundings and provide them with a sense of belonging with their environment. All the noise around them is put through a funnel and crisp, interesting and relatable content is delivered to the kids. We thus provide a way for our students to connect with what’s happening all around them. In short, we look to keep our students “woke”.
So, what are current affairs and why is it a requirement in this bustling era. Current is simply all things trending around you and affairs refers to the news, events, and issues. In the tongue of a millennial, current affairs are all things ‘happening’ that directly or indirectly affect you.
The way we highlight the news or headline also influences how interested a student is of current affairs. We try to deliver a piece of news by attaching something that would grab the child’s attention. We try to educate our kids by tapping into their interests and fascination. At the base of every question, we ask there’s a sense of curiosity we look to tap.
Shown here is a sample question for the first week of February. Through this question, children are made aware of the environmental issues that are plaguing our planet by using the Australian Open as a catalyst. The fact that the question connects one of the largest tennis tournaments to an Indian company fascinates the students. The question is also a gateway for children to discuss other matters like the Australian bush fires, how plastic waste is destroying our oceans and what is the proper way to dispose of plastic.
Having just recently left the student life I also understand how hard it might be for a child to find enough time to stay up to date on their current affairs. Between the studying, classes, sports, extracurricular activities, screen time, homework, birthday parties and sleep you can’t completely blame a kid that’s not current. Moreover, a kid might not have the right medium or know which news headlines are relevant and important (according to us ‘adults’). By plugging in Current affairs in each class we try to minimise the challenges the above problems pose.
Our facilitators set out time in their classes to discuss issues happening around us. Questions on current affairs are a common QShala feature. By raising the topic in class, we ask our kids to go discuss the same with their parents and classmates. Discussion lends a voice to the kids; they learn to think for themselves and form their own opinions. With the advancement of technology, kids can also explore a lot more about the news they read in class.
Current Affairs has now grown to become a crowd-pleaser among our QShala kids. The interest in questions on this topic has only elevated from session to session. Children often convey their appeal towards current affairs to our facilitators. B
Inila explains that kids in her TCIS class, request her to start each session with current affairs questions. These kids are also quick to point out if Current Affairs is not asked during the class. Anagha says that certain parents have requested her to take a class entirely of current affairs. Vindhya observes that most current affairs questions lead to discussions and healthy debates in class. Children have started coming to class prepared for current affairs questions. We have students claiming that they would not get a single question wrong as they have read the entire newspaper before the session.
Finding the right headlines or fundas as we like to call it, is no easy task. A lot of time, effort and testing are involved in choosing and making the right questions. Here is how Vaishnavi, who is part of the content team goes about creating a current affair set.
Throughout the week, the content team voraciously reads all the different sources of news to keep an eye out on all the major events across the world. This is followed by an internal discussion to choose the top two questions. The questions must pass the following parameters: Importance of the event and its impact on the world, Relevance, Age Appropriateness.
To equip the facilitator, every question is accompanied by the following:
Context: Why are we discussing this question? How is it relevant to the child?
Clues: Easter eggs or clues are hidden in the question that helps them move in the direction of the answer.
Additional Clues: In case the students are unable to figure out the answer, this helps nudge the students.
Videos: If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth more than that! It grabs their attention, evokes emotions and hence ensures that the message is driven to the students in a long-lasting manner. This is the reason why references to movies or video games seem so effective.
Discussion Points: Every question can lead to a Pandora’s box of topics for discussion. It gives the students a platform to share their views about the event. Questions on topics like climate change, encourage them to reflect on their everyday activities and its consequences.
Follow Up Questions: We take a step back and assess all the potential queries that the students may pose to the facilitator. Three-Step level research is done about this aspect.
Glossary: We also help enrich the vocabulary of students with the use of new words.
The content creation process is followed by quality control. These questions are then shared with the rest of the team for their unbiased views on the content. These additional pairs of eyes help weed out any discrepancies, include any potential questions, discussion points.
With repeated exposure to current affairs, the students figure out the pattern. They even predict the topics on which the questions shall be framed in the following week. This is a testimonial that they read a newspaper, are aware of the current happenings of the world and we have played a role in helping them do so.