Learning to live with noise pollution
Nerve-jarring noise is an inextricable part of urban lives. Most of us seem to accept the high decibels of vehicular traffic, deafening car horns, and the bedlam wrought by loudspeakers without complaint. Rabindra Kumar Mallick is amongst the uncomplaining mass. But he has gone ahead and devised a method of "reading in disturbing atmosphere (rida)".
The method has become quite popular among students in Orissa's Bhadrak district, where Mallick hails from. Mallick explains that rida tries to boost students' memories by making them concentrate in a disturbed atmosphere. "Noise does not disturb me anymore," says Sandhyarani Nanda, a class vii student of of Brahmapur village.
Every year rida organisers invite groups of students, each group comprising 10, to programmes held at different school fields in Bhadrak. The method involves getting students to meditate in the midst of clamour.
The programme begins with meditation techniques, which are followed by reading sessions even as a group busies itself in beating drums and cymbals. An orchestra belts out Hindi and Oriya numbers, and a tv set blares nearby. The students have to concentrate on their reading exercises in the midst of these distractions.
And concentrate they must. For after the sound dies down, they have to ask each other questions from the text. "Whoever fails to answer has to exit from the event. The ignominy is one of the reasons which makes the students concentrate on the study material," says educationist Akshyay Satpathy.
The final is organised every year in Brahmanagar. The participants are selected through a zonal programme two to three months before the annual event. This year 12 groups took part in the two-day event.
"rida presents students with both an entertaining and challenging atmosphere," says Sanatan Sahu, head master of Nodal ugme High School, Brahmapur. "rida is particularly beneficial for slow learners and backbenchers," adds Byomakesh Mishra, a senior teacher of Kshetrabasi High School at Chunida.
Almost all funds required for Mallick's "innovative project" come from his pocket. "However, during the annual function some parents and local people contribute rice, vegetables and other edible materials. They also help in making arrangements."
Mallick argues that the 10-minute meditation session is a proven concentration enhancer. "When your mind is steady and calm nothing can distract you, not even high-decibel sounds," he claims. Sabita Patnaik, head of department of psychology at jkbk College, Cuttack, says when students know that they have to learn in adverse situation they accept the gauntlet. She says, however, that the efficacy of meditation techniques need to be tested. The selected groups should be randomly divided into two groups--an experimental group and a control group. The former should be exposed to meditation programmes followed by learning sessions with adverse conditions of loud noise. The control group should be asked to learn in adverse conditions without yoga and meditation. The performance of both the groups should be compared. If both groups learn equally, it can be concluded that there is no role of meditation, Patnaik says.
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