I've just returned from the Young World trail. I was trailing with the better half - better known to the world as (ahem!) the charismatic quizmaster of the The Young World Quiz. For those of you who don't know - The Hindu Young World Quiz is a national level live quiz for middle school children. 2009 was the tenth edition of this popular quiz.
This year, I accompanied my husband, as his assistant, to thirteen cities where it was held. Three weeks of travel from city to city-Hyderabad, Vishakapatnam, Vijayawada, Chennai, Pondicherry, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Cochin, Calicut, Mangalore, Madurai, Trichy and Coimbatore. Phew!
In each of these cities, a regional round was held. This consisted of a round of written preliminaries. On an average 250-300 teams participated in the prelims. In the metros like Chennai and Bangalore, close to 600 teams participated. Out of these, the top six teams made it to the regional finals. The winner of the regional finals represented their city at the national finals.
Here are some impressions and opinions I gathered during the past month.
Given how I'm a 'raving feminist', my very first observation is that quizzing seems to be a male dominated sport. In most cities, very few girls made it to stage for the regional finals. I can recall only one team in Pondicherry, one in Vijayawada and two in Coimbatore (Note how smaller cities had female representation and not the metros). I wonder why this is so? Are girls less informed than boys? Or is it that boys are better at retaining trivia than girls? Or are girls simply not interested in quizzing and more interested in performing arts?
Second, schools from smaller towns mostly (and I say MOSTLY for a reason) did not perform well. For example, in Trichy, teams from the nearby districts participated. Unfortunately, only the city based schools made it to the top 6 teams. This of course, could be due to better teaching standards (one hopes) in cities, children having better access to information like the internet and also more opportunities to showcase their talent.
There were two teams with whom I was very impressed. Both these teams were from small cities / towns. One was a school called Marygiri Senior Secondary School representating Calicut city and another is St. Paul's High School representing Hyderabad. These boys were amazing. Shy and bashful, they were powerhouses of information, getting question after questing right and annihilating their opposing teams. Why is this remarkable? Both these teams are from village schools. One from a panchayat in Kannur district and another from a taluka in Nalgonda district. The former went on to become the 2009 champion and the latter came as second runner up. And all done with quiet confidence and dignity. I was so impressed! And oh! The feminist in me was also satisfied. The first runner up was the girl-boy team from Coimbatore!
Apparently, youngsters of today do not read the classics. Or perhaps I should stop at 'do not read'. To this question - 'In which celebrated novel would you find the characters Bill Sykes and Nancy' - the overwhelming majority of children wrote....hold your breath...Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew!!
Then there were the cheeky ones. Here's one: 'Which common part of a building or a house would one relate to a product from a company associated with persons called Allen and Gates'. (the answer is Windows). And one bright team wrote 'Kitchen'! And my favourite: 'In Indian mythology, who is the Goddess of knowledge, music and arts' - to which one answer boldly proclaimed ' V.V. Ramanan' (that's the better half).
So that concludes my sojourn in the world of children's quizzing. Overall, a good and different experience. I'll sign off with a couple of suggestions for the organisers - next year, perhaps you will consider inviting some women as chief guests. Also, chief guests need not be from the entertainment industry alone. I know they're popular and will attract crowds. But hey! children get to see them all the time. Lets give them some other role models to emulate.
- Welcome!Blogging is a form of self expression for me. I find it a wonderful, democratic space. So often in life, our articulation and expression are controlled by environment-like relationships or work place. Here, it is only about me and what I want to say. I write about anything: books, movies, issues, rants...anything which strikes a chord in me or makes me think. Life's lighter moments, highs and lows, causes, opinions. Anything. I follow no structure. It is all about self expression - a form of empowerment if you like.
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