Are extracurricular activities really extra?

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Are extracurricular activities really extra?

The first question that came to my mind

was ‘What role does extra-curricular vis a vis academic play spanning the major

part of our adult life’? While some of us are still pondering over it, the

others may already know that as Aristotle said ‘The quality of life is

determined by its activities’ because as we all know learning is ubiquitous and

we all are constantly learning. Learning is not limited to the classroom or

school precincts.

So the extra in the extra-curricular isn't the extra as we understand the word

in the present context, additional but the prefix extra in curricular means

beyond and outside the curricular or the course of study.

Juxtapose it to the co-curricular activities wherein the prefix ‘co’ means that

which supplements and complements learning within the curriculum. Let me

exemplify the difference between the two, a role play on an act from any of the

plays in school from Shakespeare which is a part of the curriculum in CBSE or

ICSE board, will be seen as the co-curricular while if a child attends a live

performance at the theater of the play of Shakespeare, then that would be the

extra-curricular activity.

The components of the extra-curricular activities are multifaceted ranging from

participation in the performing arts like dance, music, drama to adventure

sports activities like bungee jumping, paragliding, zip line to name a few and sports activities like cricket,

taekwondo, gymnastics and last but not the least volunteering for community

service by visiting and assisting at the old age homes, orphanage.

These components of extra-curricular

are crucial in this 21st century for the 21st century learners to imbibe and

learn the most important skill sets imperative for the 21st century

and that is the Life Skills. Life

skills as we know are the most comprehensive attributes that help an individual

to adapt and deal effectively with the demands and challenges of life. Life

skills like problem solving, decision making, team work and collaborative work,

empathy etc. The pandemic indeed is the most challenging of it all in our


Schools play their role in extra-curricular by organizing a plethora of

activities like the Annual day functions, excursions, visit to art galleries

and museums, visit to orphanage, destitute homes, animal welfare units. The

aforementioned skill sets are possible to imbibe with the cooperation of both

educators and parents. To quote myself “All educators are not Parents but

all Parents are Educators”. However parent’s role is imperative in bringing

about a holistic development of the child by instilling empathy quotient in

their children.

The World Happiness Report published by

UN ranks Denmark consistently as topping in the Happiness quotient which is

largely attributed to the zeitgeist of the Danish way of parenting expressed

through Hygge. ‘Hygge is the quality of coziness

and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or


A very good example of instilling in our children the culture of sensitivity towards their immediate environment can be brought about through an example of the Sikh community which through the Gurudwaras has the concept of volunteering for community service. You have all read and watched in news of the ovation given by the Delhi police and the subsequent praise showered by our Honourable Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi on the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib volunteers for their exemplary service towards the marginalized, disadvantaged, under-privileged sections of the society especially during the pandemic, when many migrant workers could not forage for themselves.

The experiential learning from this example which is beyond the curriculum is foundational in developing the personality of an awakened citizen who would be a responsible and sensitive individual.

So, let us all together go that extra mile to bring out the extraordinary in our children so that they can marvel and appreciate the small wonders bestowed upon us in this ordinary life because extra-curricular is a part of lifelong learning.

(The above article was a part of the Webinar series session participated in by Dr Richa Prakash, Principal, Allenhouse Public School, Panki, Kanpur

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