CHENNAI: When we think back to history classes in school, we often come up with the same names the Mughals, Ashoka, the Cholas, and the East India Company. While these are important accounts to be aware of, there are several lesser-known tales of Indian history South Indian, to be particular that often fly under the radar. City-based historian Pradeep Chakravarthy is attempting to bring these stories forward with his upcoming online lecture series for children, titled ‘South Indian History You Won’t Learn in School’. The week-long series will discuss a different topic every day, including historical subjects from Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The topics include Kerala – India’s truly international state, the Kakatiyas and Vijayanagara kings, the Chalukya Kings, the Hoysala Kings, the Pandyas, and general topics like food and cultivation, and war and weapons. Chakravarthy began conducting online history classes for children during the lockdown in 2020. “It all started last year when the lockdown happened and I was feeling very bored. My son was staying with his mother and I was missing him at home.
So, I thought the best way to get out of this rut is to spend time with kids. I know a fair bit of Tamil Nadu history and am currently doing my PhD. I reached out to Charanya Prabhakar, the founder of Oyster Montessori School, where they do a lot of work with kids. We put this idea together and that’s how it started. Last year, we saw 100 kids joining in. I deliberately pick up stuff that kids in CBSE and ICSE schools will normally not look at in their history classes.
And it went really well!” he says. Upon seeing the success of the earlier classes that were very Tamil Nadu-centric, he decided to add history from other states as well. While the classes were conceptualised for children, several adults have also joined in on the experience. Chakravarthy points out that, unlike the school curriculums, he does not focus on the dates and the names of the rulers. “Mostly, in school, they focus on which king ruled when; I don’t.
My whole thing is how to make history relatable to people in terms of insights on behaviour change. I will talk about things that you normally won’t see in a history textbook thematically...I’m not going to look at dates related to battles and kings because that bores the kids. I focus on what news and views you can use from history,” he says. When people sign up for the classes, they will be added to a WhatsApp group where details about the next session and login credentials are posted. They can also use the group to ask Chakravarthy questions. Adults can join too.
The classes will be held from June 7 to 13, 8 pm-9 pm on Zoom. Sign up for the classes using the Google form given on @chakravarthypradeep on Instagram.