Sunday, July 5, 2015

Kirti's Literacy History

Kirti Don Hemlani
1156-RDLG579- T3: Content Area Literacy
Literacy History

Though I’m born three decades after Indian Independence, but its impact is still evident in my life. I am from a small town of North India. My father was a wealthy man, who had a well-established business of wholesale grains. We lived in a joined family with my grandparents, uncle and aunt and their children. We were six children growing together. We all went to a catholic school. Every morning, if we had school or holiday, I very well remember, bells and hymn were first sound I heard in the morning. Even before breakfast as a child, we had to get ready and go for prayers and then the day would move forward. During prayers there were few lines read from holy scriptures and in the evening my grandmother would sit with us and have a session of discussion where the core was to teaches us the values of ideology, devotion, duty, relationships, dharma and karma and it made a huge impact on our thinking.
Before India got independent, traumatizing part was partition of India and Pakistan, my grandmother had a choice to go to America with her family, or stay back and get married to her fiancé (my grandfather). So every summer, we had my grandmothers family and their kids visiting us. It was like barter system, they had to learn Indian culture and in exchange we were preached on eloquence. To keep it in practice, we had a tuition teacher, (who’s mother stayed back after British left and got married to an Indian man) who converted one of the rooms into a study and had alphabet charts and rhymes and lots of books my father bought, when he traveled. This young lady, would spent hours at our place, teaching us everything – reading, writing, table manners, and games so on….
My earliest memory till today is sitting in her lap, where she would read us stories or evening session with my grandmother when we would listen tales of immortal heroes. Our study had a huge collection of books, but they had to be scanned from our teacher as she was bound by a code of conduct. It was sheer joy, when during summer vacation my dad from one of his trips came back and got Malgudi Days, we were glued to it. It had 19 stories and I had to share it with my sister. I would wait for my turn and would climb on one of the trees and read peacefully. Initially reading was a chore but it became a passion- Indian Fables and Folk Tales, Readers Digest, Nancy Drew, Danielle Steel, Sidney Sheldon…..

But I was still illiterate, when my son was born 11 years back, my grandmother was quite adamant for my son being well versed in Indian literature and culture. But, with him, I thoroughly enjoyed Eric Carle, Dr Seuss, Donald Dale and once he started school at American International School of Guangzhou and I embarked on a new career – teacher’s assistant at AISG followed by support teacher in EAL department.

Apart, from reading from school library, I look forward to reading blogs of students of the books they have read and at their age when I was little I had merest hint of character traits or in-depth knowledge or understanding they have of their content. I look forward to reading book review on my son’s blog who’s in middle school now and I giggle with sheer delight when I read his blog. Furthermore, now that’s my goal to start writing my blog and my son can response to it giggles in delight – the way I enjoy…….


  1. Kirti, I am fascinated by what seems to be some sort of live-in teacher you had as a child. Was this person a teacher your father hired to teach you to read and write before you went to Catholic School or was she some sort of tutor to supplement your school learning? Was she teaching in English?

    Also, I am glad you mentioned the blogging. I'm interested in what your son is saying in his blog. I think they can be powerful tools for learning and communicating. I am disappointed that our class blog hasn't worked out the way I would have liked. It is hard to make it work in an authentic way in the seven days we have together. And, like reading, it should be an enjoyable experience with lots of choice for the writer. I have struggled to make them authentic in this course but I still try to use them anyway just to demonstrate some of the possibilities. I hope you consider using them in some way in your classes.

  2. Jim, Thank you firstly for the encouragement you have shown by reading and then commenting on my blog. I am still new with this blogging and truly have begun to enjoy sharing my thoughts, this just being a brief about my life.

    About your query, yes the teacher was hired by our father to supplement our school learning (I couldn't have used a more appropriate expression) and yes she did play an important role in my understanding of the English language and eventually she became an important part of our family back home also.

    Though, its been some days now since we started posting on the blogs and the response has been encouraging and absolutely look forward to sharing my thoughts and ideas. Let us not come to an early conclusion about the fate of this blog and try to make the best of the tools that we have been given.FYI, we are using Easy Blog Jr. in our class.