| The Little Extra workshop in progress. Picture by Amit Datta
From managing relationships to using scientific thought to crack those textbooks, a “little extra” is all the young and the confused need to give them a head start in life.
To help students who are “bumping around with reality for years before realising what to do”, Little Extra was born 10 years ago. Having started work with children of top city schools, the educational programmes have evolved far beyond books, to tackle the basics of life.
Founder Sangeeta Basu is back with her programme in Calcutta, having shifted base to Delhi for a few years. Now, courses are available in Delhi, Calcutta and Bangalore, with the focus having broadened to include programmes for kids, college students and young adults.
“We try to move away from theory and evaluation of schools, to teach kids the same things realistically, through skills,” explains Basu. Though the academic modules have not yet been introduced, two courses are currently on in the city — one on communication and the other on relationship management. “The response has been growing steadily,” says Basu, who began the first round earlier this year with just 16 students. “In the third round, we have had 67 registrations.”
The four-day communication workshop includes interactive modules on speaking, writing and presentation. “Many people leave school with the impression that they are average. But they just lack the skills. This kind of educational enhancement is necessary for their survival,” adds Basu, whose plan includes sessions on “how to negotiate an audience and how to ensure they are listening”, speaking with confidence and coherence and effective use of natural style.
The relationship management workshops are of a more personal nature. They do not deal with romantic situations. The talks and exercises are designed to empower kids, often vulnerable and insecure, to take responsibility for their actions.
“I have to remember that I am the common factor in all my relationships,” she tells a group of about eight participants.
Her students appreciate the novel approach. “This cleared up a lot of things for me, making life simpler,” smiles Twinkle Kothari, a first-year student. “The first lecture itself put things in perspective and helped me deal with my conflicts,” feels Siddharth, a young executive.
“Suddenly, while growing up, people find themselves in a lot of pain and they adopt defences,” says Basu, trying her best to help her students develop a “sense of self”.