Esther Nelson, Co-owner of Granny Press, on the Educational System in Afghanistan

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"Students must not be passive listeners but active participants"

ESTHER NELSON has the M.A. Dance Education from New York University. She has taught many thousands of children, teachers and librarians in the tri-state area and all around the country the joys of creative movement for the past five decades. Along with genius composer Bruce Haack, she started a new record company IMENSION 5 (the dimension of the Imagination). They produced a total of eleven dance participation recordings that are now classics for children. Recently, King Records of Japan re-released them as Compact Discs.

Davida Hirsch has an M.S. in Early Childhood Education from  the BANK STREET COLLEGE OF EDUCATION.
She is a national figure committed to training teachers, parents and child care workers in techniques to develop and maximize thinking and learning. For 15 years she was coordinator of the Early Childhood Program for the city of Hackensack, New Jersey,  after many years of teaching students, teachers and directors. She received the Distinguished Service Award  for her service to BANK STREET.
ESTHER NELSON and DAVIDA HIRSCH joined forces to form GRANNY PRESS and have published 5 books in rhythm and rhyme, the last two co=published with BARNES and NOBLE.
Next comes the paragraph about GRANNY PRESS, and it should read...........
GRANNY PRESS has recently released their newest product called A PROGRAM FOR MAGIAL STORY TIMES.
It includes an 86 page spiral bound book with directions for use of the material, a CD of the 28  songs in the book, and a DVD of a class of 4 year olds in action. The accompanying philosophy of educational principles involved in teaching young children the magic of music and dance lead the road to literacy. Also included in the package are 3 picture books in rhythm and rhyme.
Check our website to see photos of our program, and read more about it. The package can also be ordered from this site.

Granny Press has released recently their newest product  called A PROGRAM FOR MAGICAL STORY TIMES.( songs, dances, stories and teaching tools) for anyone working with young children. Perhaps a good way to include that would be to interview my partner Davida Hirsch, who can tell you all about the components: an 86 page spiral bound book with directions for use of the material , a CD of the 28 songs in the book, and a DVD of a class of 4 year olds in session with the accompanying philosophy of educational principles involved in teaching young children the magic of music and  dance which help lead the road to literacy. Also included in the package are 3 picture books in rhythm and rhyme.

FA: Please tell us about yourself and your background.

EN:  My background..........
I am a well known professional in my field, ( M.A. in Dance Education, NYU) having spent my life in the world of music and dance education for young children ( 32 published works.....books, records, cassettes, CD's and DVD;s) I have taught tens of thousands of young children ( ages 3-6) mostly in Westchester,NY, given  Workshops and Keynote Speeches in 26 states nationwide, for Childrens Librarians, Early Childhood Educators, Head Start Staff  and Day Care Providers and have appeared on MR. ROGERS NEIGHBORHOOD TV SHOW. My books and music are on library shelves nationally and internationally, and 11 records were recently licensed by KING RECORDS in Tokyo, Japan, turned into CD's and sold in 8 Asian countries. My books and records were selections of the INSTRUCTOR BOOK CLUB as well as SCHOLSTIC BOOK CLUBS.

FA: Please tell us about rhythm and rhyme books and the philosophy behind them.

EN: Our books and music products were developed with the aim of getting children involved in the creative arts and enveloping young children in the magical and exciting world of books, dance, songs, rhythm and rhyme, and enriching  their minds and lives forever.All this leads to literacy and helps develop vocabulary, concept formation and thinking skills...all while having fun. Our last 2 books in rhythm and rhyme were co=published with BARNES & NOBLE.

  • and in turn...LEARN, LEARN, LEARN            

FA: How interactive workshops involving music can improve the learning process for kids at school.

EN: Our interactive workshops encourage children to creatively act out in songs, movement and stories, life they see around them, stimulating their creative selves to explore their worlds, inner and outer, to relate to the other children in their classes, to learn to share ideas and work together to produce  chorerographed pieces to show each other. They teach focus, and concentration, discipline and body and mind., and they teach the educators who attend the workshops the techniques necessary to hold the attention of the children they are working matter what country they are in.

FA: How we can improve educational system in developing countries like Afghanistan considering their current situation?

EN: Music and Movement provide an excellent way for all ages of  children to learn by doing through Music and Movement.  Even early in their lives they contribute to Language development, building skills for making  connections with  adults and other children,  The learning outcomes are: increased literacy,vocabulary, memory, coordination and understanding of concepts of spatial relations. are joyful rewarding ways to nurture
creativity, imagination, thinking and confidence and also helps Imagining understanding of the larger world.  Being engaged physically and  interactively and not just as passive observers is a pathway to success.

FA:  Which tools and techniques have the main role in providing a better educational environment and speed up the learning process at school?

EN: Expand opportunities for all children male and female to go to school.Have teachers see their roles as facilitators, not lecturers. Students must not be passive listeners but active participants.Provide opportunities for them to work in small groups and have activities that are hands on especially in areas like Math and Writing.  Also, field trips about the environment and nature and Science.  It is important for students to not be chastised publicly for their mistakes or inappropriate behavior.  In general they should be spoken to privately so they will not be embarrassed and set up for bullying.  It is important for opportunities to have discussions about the material they are expected to know and learn and also to have frequent breaks for stretching and moving about maybe incorporating physical activities that relate to subject matter.

FA:  What do you think about building Internet classroom in Afghanistan by Afghan Development Project Initiative? How much social media can be useful in teaching and learning procedures at schools?

EN: It is important in today’s world to be knowledgeable about computers and to have access to them to develop needed skills. However it is important that computer learning not be the only way they are exposed to ideas, concepts and information.  Computers and the Internet should always be a part of the learning environment in conjunction with the interaction with instructors and other students to make sure there is accurate understanding of the subject matter and to understand the value of exchanging ideas and information with teachers, other people and other students.  Just having contact with the computer can lead to wrong interpretations of information and inaccurate understandings that discussions and consultation can avoid.  Computers contribute a great deal but as the only source of learning preclude the importance of hearing other views and the development of the social skills needed for research and functioning in the real world.

استر نلسون فارغ التحصیل از دانشگاه نیویورک است. وی بیشتر وقت خود را صرف آموزش هزاران کودک، آموزگار و کتابدارانی کرده است تا بتوانند از شیوه های خلاقانه در قسمت یادگیری و آموزش بهره مند شوند. وی ورکشاپ های خلاقانه ای را ایجاد میکند تا کودکان را تشویق به انجام کارهای مبتکرانه و ایده های جدید سازد. این ورکشاپ ها شامل آواز، حرکات موزون، داستان ها و مسائلی است که ذهن کودکان را مشغول میسازد و جریان آموزش را آسانتر. وی معتقد است که موسیقی و حرکت با همدیگر مسیر عالی را برای کودکان در زمینه یادگیری و پرورش فراهم میسازد. نتیجه این برنامه ها چیزی نبوده جز: افزایش سطح آگاهی، لغات، حافظه، همکاری، و فهم نظریات و رابطه های آنها.

Fereshteh Forough

About the author


WHO WE ARE The Digital Citizen Fund" knowing formally Women’s Annex Foundation" is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in New York City which has set out to help girls and women in developing countries gain access to technology, virtually connect with others across the world, and obtain necessary skills to…

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