Sara: Hey Richa.I have loved reading stories from your students all of whom had something different to write to the theme “What if I were….” From imagining life as a mop to a box of chalk to Dhoni’s bat. Tell me, can creativity be taught or it is inherent?
Richa: Hi Sara! To begin with I want to say that all kids are creative, it is our mainstream education system that does not do enough to nurture this creativity. When a child comes to us, very often they’re eager to tell stories but not too sure how much can they express, if we’ll be okay with it. Sadly it’s this
fear of the teacher’s approval/ disapproval that often makes children hold back their creativity. When a child gets the right environment, and is appreciated for thinking differently, every child’s inherent creativity comes to the surface. Then it is our job to work with that child to polish and hone this skill.
Sara: Some of your students have rewritten stereotypical fairy tales (much to my delight) to make them modern day and progressive. Along with the ability to write well, do you also guide children to have an evolved world -view? Have you ever faced questions on why most of our traditional literature is full of
bias and discrimination?
Richa: In our class we talk about everything – there is no taboo topic. We’ve discussed roles of characters in stories, what is happening in society, in the world. We discuss books and themes, experiences from our own lives; children share anecdotes from their lives. When we talk about so many things it is bound to open our minds to be more receptive to new ideas and perspectives.
Sara: You are obviously doing a fantastic job in churning out creative talent in your classes. Can you tell me how the kids will benefit from this, both in the short as well as the long run ?
Richa: Thanks, Sara. I started teaching creative writing because, as a child, I wanted to learn how to write but there was no one to teach me. So when the class started it was simply to introduce children to the joys of writing. However, in the process, along with the children I discovered that writing is a life skill and helps kids academically, as well as it enables them to be more expressive. When my kids started studying abroad they thanked me for helping them become independent thinkers and for their ability to
write because almost every subject required them to do so. I also think it makes my children sensitive because they’re able to understand perspectives.
Sara: How do you think a good Indian parent can help develop their child’s reading- writing capabilities?
Richa: I believe success breed success so it is important to follow the positive reinforcement mantra. Let your child pick what he or she wants to read, if required read along with your child. Be involved because reading and writing are isolating, and most kids like doing things that involve others. Encourage children to creatively express themselves. Definitely correct them but also appreciate the things they’ve done right, don’t only point out the mistakes. Also a child mimics his/ her parent. So if you want them to read/ write you need to be doing similar things too.
About Richa Wahi: Richa is the proprietor of Word Munchers and has a post graduate degree in Teaching and Practice of Creative Writing from Cardiff University, a post-graduate diploma in Advertising and Marketing from Xavier’s Institute of communication and a post-graduate certificate in copywriting from Mudra Institute of Communication. She received grants from the prestigious Charles Wallace India Trust and British Council’s Hammond Trust while pursuing her higher education in Cardiff. Her experience in schools and in communication consultancies has given her the opportunity to design bespoke creative writing solutions as per the need of the hour. Her freelance work at British Council from 2006 – 2018 has enabled her to conduct training with teachers, students and corporates in Kolkata as well as in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Shillong, Raipur, Ranchi, Guwahati, Silliguri, Bokaro, Bhubaneswar and Nasik. Richa is passionate about reading and travelling and has several stories and poems published in anthologies in India and abroad.