Geeta wants schools to foster in India's children the creativity, independence, and participation that will make them successful adults and citizens. To replace monotony with variety, apathy with enthusiasm, Geeta is using the age-old art of storytelling to make education and learning fun and exciting for both students and teachers.
Through Kathalaya and the Academy of Storytelling, Geeta is equipping teachers, business leaders, mothers and professionals with the skills of storytelling and ability to integrate them into their everyday communication. Geeta believes storytelling can be applied in different ways in different fields. She has used it from teaching in schools, to talking about hospital products, to teaching parents the language for communicating with children with disabilities. She believes it can also be used to calm, heal or help people de-stress. She has reached out to about 60,000 individuals and an average of 5 lakh students over the last 15 years. More importantly, individuals trained at the Academy of Storytelling have set up their own informal storytelling centres or started storytelling evenings such as Storyghar in Delhi and Storyspace in Mumbai. Sadly, she feels that despite the fact that it fulfils Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence skills, storytelling as a form of teaching is still not taken seriously.
Through her persistent efforts, she has been successful in making storytelling a part of the course curriculum for schools and universities including rural schools in Karnataka, the Azim Premji University and the universities of Gothenburg and Berlin. Geeta is now working with CBSE to introduce storytelling as part of the syllabus for teaching social sciences. She feels that by introducing it in curriculums for students as well as teachers undergoing training, one can integrate storytelling into the system. She has completed story based curriculum in the area of pre-primary schools, life skill curriculum, language curriculum, environmental studies and integrated curriculum for schools. Her next big dream is to start “Storyland”, a place where all forms of storytelling, Indian and global can be researched, documented, taught and shared with the larger public.
Geeta Ramanujam grew up listening to stories, and has been using stories in her teaching career for the last 36 years. "Once you get the children's attention there is no looking back, and that happens in the first ten minutes," she says. Her new teaching techniques crystallized during her travels to remote corners in India, Japan, Africa, Europe, UK and the United States. She has since been committed to spreading the art of storytelling to improve learning.