by BISMumbai Correspondent, with JMac in Conversation with Savio Sunni

As the world continues to battle the COVID-19, overcoming the trials and turmoil unleashed, the adage 'we learn at all times' is a timely truth even within the grip of the catastrophe. Lockdown 4.0 has swallowed up the larger portion of the stay-home, stay safe, stay healthy summer otherwise spent in vacationing and leisure. Students are back to their schooling. Yes, not physically perhaps, walking, by bus or train, or even pillion riding on bikes or packed like sardines in overloaded auto-rickshaws or vans. The day-long 'i go to school, sit in the class, hear the voices of the teachers and companions, run, jump, shout and play mischief on the playgrounds and in the corridors', is now practically non-existent. At least, for the time being. BISMumbai caught up with Savio Sunni , a Std. IX boarder at Don Bosco Lonavla, and former boarder at St. Dominic Savio Boys' Home Andheri, and at the moment under COVID-19 lockdown. JMac in conversation with Savio Sunni.

Savio you are a boarder. How is this stay at home helping you? How are you passing your time?

I am keeping myself busy, as I have learnt in the boarding, 'keep busy, keep cheerful'. Yes, it is good to be away from the boarding and spend time with my mummy. But, I also miss my friends and the Don Bosco Lonavla activities. This is too long to remain at home. However, I have been trying various things. Learning some type of basic cooking, by watching YouTube. I have experimented with baking cakes, making ice-cream, fruit juices and some other dishes. It was fun and good learning for me. I also kick the football around, as part of a little exercise.

Apart from this, have you done any serious study or activity?

Yes, our school [DBLonavla] has started online classes. All of us are expected to watch the videos and study by ourselves. I use my cell-phone to access the online videos on YouTube. Most of my morning is spent in trying to watch and understand the lessons. Yes, this is very serious activity. I have to pay attention to learn.

Wow, that must be fantastic. Do you like this method of study?

I have learnt Hindi, Marathi basics, and I like Allan sir's Khan academy lessons, which are very creative. Yes, the videos are helpful since it has helped me to revise what I have learnt. It is very easy to watch on YouTube and I can watch it anywhere in the house or in the open playground. I can also watch it at any time. Yes, it is a different method and fun way to learn.

You mean, it is like watching a movie or song video? Is it engaging?

Hmm... well, some videos are good. No, it is not like the song or films videos. This is for study, so it is serious. The lesson-modules are good. I am learning the subjects. But some videos are too long and boring. One person is speaking all the time and it is just an image. We cannot ask questions or anything. Also, some of the videos are taken directly from YouTube. They were already available before also. So no moving or action like the other videos. I like the recipe and activity videos, they teach and are entertaining.

Oh, Okay. That is a good observation. Do you manage to understand and learn everything? How do you actually study with these videos?

Brother Chris who is here [Cleric Chris Fereirra, Salesian Scholastic pursuing Theology studies] is helping me daily from 11:00-12:30 pm. I watch the video and when he comes, he helps me understand the video. He asks me questions and also clarifies the lesson. He also makes me explain what I have understood. So, I am happy to have a teacher also with me to help me understand better. Also, homework is given. I have to finish that also.

Which is better? Learning in school or learning like this?

It is a very difficult question. This is the 1st time I am using this method for studying subjects. I don't know, but if all the lessons were like this, it would be nice. But if there is no action or movement or asking questions, doubts, then it becomes very boring. At least, in the class there is a lot of action [smiles]. It is good for holiday learning, but I don't know how it will help.

Don Bosco Lonavla and other schools are experimenting with online learning modules to engage with and keep school-students occupied during the lockdown, till the situation eases. The idea is that we must not let a lockdown to shutdown our learning and growing. The next move, the next action or the next decision to help scores of students is a daily question for many teachers and principals trying to adapt to the newer schooling ecosystem. As the world adapts and as teachers facilitate learning for the good of the students, the irreplaceable words of Albert Einstein prod us to march unflinchingly, noting that "Education is not the [...mere...] learning of facts, but training of the mind to think."