Tarabai Modak is rightly called as the “Montessori Mother”. She has made a significant contribution to preschool education in India. Her method brought in a silent revolution in the tribal community of kosbad.
LIFE SKETCH OF TARABAI MODAK : Padmabhushan Tarabai Modak, a pioneer of preschool education in India was born in April 1892. She graduated from the University of Mumbai. in 1921, she became the first indian princpal of Barten female college of Education at Rajkot. She came across Maria Montessori’s writing and decided to educate her own daughter accordingly. in 1923, she resigned from college and joined Shri Gijubhai Badheka who conducted a pre primary school in Bhavnagar and propogated Montessori’s theories. In 1926, she helped him establish the Nutan Bal Shikshan Sangh (the new child education association) for the spread and development of preprimary school and teacher training center in Dadar in north Bombay. She started the Gram Bal Shiksha Kendra at Bordi in 1945. From 1946 to 1952 she was a member of the Bombay Legislative Assembly. She visited Europe in 1949 to attend the Montessori conference held in Italy and to observe pre primary institutions in the European countries. In 1957 she shifted Gram Shiksha Kendra from Bordi to Kosbad. The Vikaswadi Project was launched and conducted at Kosbad under her constant guidance. She devoted the last 27 years of her life to this project which was the core of the Gram Bal Shiksha Kendra activities. She was the General secretary of the Nutan Bal Shikshan Sangh for over 25 years and subsequently became its vice president. she wrote a number of books for children and parents in marathi and gujarati. She also wrote books on child education in English. In 1962, the Government of India honoured her with the title of Padma Bhushan. She passed away on 31 August 1973 at the age of 81.
TARABAI’S CONTRIBUTION TO PRE SCHOOL EDUCATION IN INDIA.
The concept and practice of organized and formal child education are an import into India from the industrialized west. madam Montessori gave a big jolt to the theory of moulding children through education. The transmit of her idea from Europe to India was unbelievable quick. fascinated by the theories of Montessori, Gijubhai badeka started his Bal Mandir at Bhavnagar and began to indianised Montessori method. By this time, Tarabai also joined him. The Nutan Bal Shikshan Sangh was thus started in 1926 by tarabai and Gijubhai.
WORK EDUCATION AT THE GRAM BAL SHIKSHAN KENDRA
Children began to gather in and around GBSK in sufficient numbers, Tarabai and Anutai started another unusual routine. A lot of grass and weeds had grown in the compound. THey began clearing it with kurpis (small sickles) and the children would stop by to watch them. A supply of child size kurpis had already been acquired by these astute educators. They offered these and asked the children if they wanted to join in the weeding operations. Eager volunteers cam forward and the activity became popular. Gradually clay work, drawing, painting and playing with learning materials appeared on the scene.
ANGANWADI – THE OPEN PRESCHOOL
The admission of harijan children into the GBSK pre school centre has turned the caste hindus hostile. A separate Balwadi for harijan children alone was the idea put forth. But this idea remained as the negation of the basic purpose. Hence a gandhian solution was mooted, the teachers started going to the parents to show them the necessity of preschool education. Working on the assumption that it would be more appropriate to conduct their special anganwadi in harmony with their ways of living, the tribal anganwadi progam began to be planned for about a week in advance and carried out daily for not more than 2 and half hours. the routine was more or less like – collecting the children for cleaning the open space. individual cleanliness activities, prayer, songs, stories, dances, dramatization, games, going out on strolls for nature study, engaging in crafts like paper work, drawing, painting, clay work, free activities by using whatever material was available in the environment - feathers, empty nests, sticks, colorful seeds, shells, big and small stories, clay,, dry leaves, etc. sensory training by using natural objects, exhibitions of play things, specimens and natural objects collected by children. planned excursions for observation of particular activities and plans. systematically distributing and eating simple snacks like roast gram, parched rice, etc. An important aspect of the anganwadi program was the informal education of the parents and the older children in proper practice of child care.