22 Extraordinary Education Innovators
June 19, 2015

Geeta Ramanujam is founder-director of the Bangalore-based Kathalaya Trust and the Academy of Storytelling. An economics, education and library science alumna of Madras University with over two decades of classroom experience in some of the country’s top-ranked schools (Aurobindo Memorial, The Valley School, Bangalore), Ramanujam promoted Kathalaya in 1998 to enable teachers and students to teach and learn better through the ancient art of storytelling. Subsequently in 2006, she launched the country’s first Academy of Storytelling which offers certificate and diploma programmes in this novel pedagogy.

What’s the history and inspiration behind Kathalaya?

During my two decades-plus career as a teacher, I became increasingly aware that teaching was in need of urgent reform. Within a regimented and monotonous school system, students were engaged in ritual, not real learning. Having grown up listening to stories, I decided to experiment with storytelling as a teaching technique to spark creativity and the spirit of inquiry within children.

The outcome of the Kathalaya experiment.

As a pilot project in 1998, we signed up with five schools, including a school for the hearing impaired, a rural school and a Montessori centre for introducing weekly storytelling classes and got amazing results. Since then, Kathalaya has trained over 12,470 teachers in 525 schools countrywide in the art of storytelling using voice narration, story reading, picture stories, toy theatre, clay modelling, puppetry, shadow play, role play and craft activities. Stories and folklore are  rich education tools which can significantly enhance curriculums, and dramatically improve students’ retention and learning outcomes.

With rising demand for our teacher training workshops, in 2006 I promoted the Academy of Storytelling,  affiliated with the Scottish Storytelling Center, Edinburgh, International Institute of Storytelling, Tennessee, USA and the University of Skowda, Sweden to offer diploma courses.

Reach and impact. 

Kathalaya has conducted storytelling sessions for over 500,000 children and has trained over 70,000 individuals. Today, most storytelling organisations in the country are run by our alumni.

Future plans.

Hopefully by 2018, I will realise my dream of setting up an international university of storytelling.

More at: http://educationworldonline.net/index.php/page-article-choice-more-id-4471