It was easy to recognise Usha Aroor in the office of Orient Blackswan Pvt Ltd. The grace of age that added to her elegant composure gave her away.
It did not come as a surprise that the author of the value education and English books had served close to 42 years in this field. Aroor, former director of publishing, schools and English Language Teaching (ELT), Orient Blackswan Pvt Ltd is now, consultant schools, Orient Blackswan.
Though her journey as a children’s author started just about a decade ago, she has served as an editor for a publishing house, specialised in ELT and written books on various subjects.
Aroor started as a student at Coimbatore and has travelled across the country and abroad. The result was her exposure to a myriad of groups of people who steered her confidently towards publishing a series of value education and life skills books under the name White Dove.
It is challenging to make children understand that the logic system of a human mind does not always work on ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. A typical day in a child’s life includes experiences of confusion, uncertainty, envy, dilemmas, choices and constant decision making, usually associated with adults and considered insignificant in a child’s life.
The White Dove series of books addresses subjects like value education, peace studies and life skills.
Talking about how the project started, Aroor says “When the idea of publishing these books was first conceived, I felt that it was my chance to give something back to the world, in terms of knowledge that I have gained from experience.”
The framework of the books includes personal traits, attitude, society, environment, country and citizenship. Many of the topics that have been touched were based on the value education document released by NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) while other topics included by Aroor and her colleagues.
When asked about her approach to the different age groups, she says with a smile, “The core values are the same in all my books, the only difference is in the way they are presented. For children below 10, I use more graphic representations like comic strips and fictional story threads, for older children I use more food for thought and for teenagers I try and relate to an event or new item that is relevant.”
Aroor was never a preacher of didactic values that parents sometimes try to instill in children, but what she does stress is the fact that every child deserves to be treated as an adult who can make decisions and just needs to be guided to be able to morally reason choices and action.
The idea that no problem in this world is straightforward, is the key to the content of each lesson that lets the child decide the outcome and draw the morals.
Elaborating on this, she says, “We couldn’t leave things too open and loose, so there is always a drawing together, a discussion and a suggested path at the end of each lesson.”
Speaking about her plans for the future, she says, “I am moving to Bangalore now, I have done my bit and I hope the books serve their purpose. The best gift for me would be for a child to step out and do his bit for others, rather than be caught in the rat race.”
All the lessons are structured in such a way that children move through awareness of an issue and look deeper. This sort of outcome could only come from someone who had vastly explored the moral dimension.