Nursery Rhymes R.I.P?

15 Mar

A college friend and confidante, now a schoolteacher in Calcutta (strange how most of the college gang started working either as teachers or journalists or in some form of the communications industry) sent this SMS last night:

Remember lines from Daffodils? Kids insist on writing: “A poet could not but be ‘a’ gay in such a jocund company…”

I owe her much of my sanity for she was the one who stood rock-solid by my side at the most turbulent time of my life – way back in the late ’80s. Am not sure I was there for her when she went through an even-worse calamity almost a decade later but we’re still there for each other when we need to be… that, however, is not the point here!

A few days ago, I’d stumbled on the fact that, while I remembered every line of almost every nursery rhyme I’d read over 40 years ago, I was aghast to discover that my children – 10 and a-week-away-from-nine respectively – couldn’t remember Humpty Dumpty or Hickory-Dickory-Dock or Twinkle-Twinkle… I could’ve cried!

But something told me that something had changed: children, these days, don’t learn as much by rote as we used to. More important, they’re exposed to so much more, that inane nonsense like “three bags full” is quickly transferred to the mind’s trash folder.

The not-so-gay schoolteacher from Calcutta confirms this but it does leave me wondering whether another literary genre is headed for extinction.


2 Responses to “Nursery Rhymes R.I.P?”

  1. Soma Ghosh March 16, 2009 at 12:30 am #

    In standard III of a respectable suburban school in Mumbai, 8 yr old children are learning all about rhombus, quadrilateral, parallelogram in Mathematics, deltas, archipelagos, isthmus, core, mantle, crust of volcanoes in Geography, the nervous system among other physiological details in Science and taxation in Civics…. do we really want them to recite nursery rhymes anymore, do they have the time to remember them? It may still be an indulgence on our part to tickle the li’l greys of the brain and refresh golden oldies…. would any of these kids be interested to look up from their Gameboys or Barbie on roller blades and recite “Humpty dumpty”…. they are busy learning catchy ad jingles “samsher sikandar bandar”, gyrating to Sharukh’s latest “mar jani,mar jani” or busy lapping up teenage drama queen “Hannah Montana”….
    Nursery rhymes are best forgotten …. the generations X, Y, Z none of them need them anymore…

  2. Soumya March 16, 2009 at 1:19 pm #

    Hmm… yes, well thought…

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