November 11, 2009
What a great day it was at school today! The phonics session, the spelling test, revising the verbs, the tables and group competition, aanapaan session, the drama practice and the drawing session where kids imagined how they got into the Big Potato and what they saw there, everything just went superbly well today. Inside the potato Sakshi found the chocolate rain and she dancing on a pile of chocolates with her mother! Isra saw a Barbie doll turn into an imaginary animal…little Sahil drew bullock cart and a space shuttle side-by-side.
Last but not the least, when the school closed unexpectedly early due to heavy rains, it was a task to call up all the parents to come and pick up their child. Some kids still remained in the class and didn’t know what to do with them..was also very hungry it was 2 in the afternoon. But as it turned out, something just really worked without much planning. The kids drew on the board what for them means anger, fun, lazy, happiness and sadness…their ideas were mindboggling. Like the bald joker standing upside down, a girl with a tail and catlike moustache, another man throwing mud at someone else, a lazy boy growing his hair too long because he is too lazy to cut them, a man helping someone who fell down at a construction site, the boxing scene with the two angry men fighting with each other…the attention to details and imagination was remarkable.
Also, today’s highlight turned out to be me being able to give that personal one-on-one attention to many of my kids and to appreciate their work. It helped having only 20 kids attend school today. It was less about an objective driven lesson plan and more about being in the moment. Atharva jumping all over the place with smallest of admiration for his work, Little Sahil’s intricate drawing, Ammar writing five well thought sentences without a single spelling mistake, Sania getting more and more confident to raise her and at least try to answer my questions, Sakshi’s usual enthusiasm with learning, kids eagerly discussing about their buddy in England…these and many such small rewards made my day.
Here’s what it all led me to think deeply about my kids:
The creative faculty of kids and their originality of thinking, their curious, positive outlook towards life, the spark in and the innocence in their eyes, their full of energy and ready-for-anything state of being, their flexibility to absorb and change, their uniqueness of character, the ability to forgive and forget things, their egoless and selfless acts—all of it make me feel as I am in the presence of the divine. Through their eyes I feel I have the possibility to see God. They are an abundance of love, so full adoration for life and the beautiful world around. I yearn to be one with them, to be one of them…to get a peep inside their magical mind. The purity of mind and truthfulness of their intentions almost offers me a spiritual experience in their company. Their honesty to tell on the face what they do not like and what they like surprises me. The fact that they do not pretend or fake their character, or put on a deceptive mask really gives me a sense of trust and creates mutual respect in the classroom. Mostly they operate on intuition or their pure inner calling. They have a knack of being joyful despite all the odds around in their lives…they ‘feel’ the things first and ‘think’ about them later. They can almost very instantly catch the vibrations around them and respond accordingly.
So, as a teacher, it reminds me, it is not their problem if they are not learning anything, or that class is out of control and I am losing my temper…because kids don’t plan for it. They simply act upon their natural instincts. It is not their problem if the teacher has a miserable attitude, they don’t know how to help it..they are going to have it their own way as much as they can. The baseline is that my class is a reflection of myself. And that puts the onus completely on my shoulder.
They are not the ones who are in control of circumstances and situations around them they are innocent receivers of what is given to them…trying their best to cope with the system, its rigidity and discipline, the negative and cruel ways of the world. As they desperately attempt to muddle through life…trying to survive their creativity and happiness, somewhere down the line, they too succumb to the demands and expectations of the world. The pessimism, the competition, selfish narrow mindsets, the ruthless strangling for self-glory overtake them and begin to suck life out of these heavenly creations. They fall prey to conventions and traditionally set patterns. It makes me think that nothing damages this world and the tremendous potential it holds as much as the gradual killing of creativity of our children.
It also humbles me to think about this opportunity I have in life to reinforce these valuable childhood traits in myself, and nurture 33 other young souls along the way so that their originality is preserved. Kids have bliss in ignorance, the real challenge lies in being in a state of bliss with awareness. That’s the challenge I grapple with every moment of my life.
Fellow, Teach For India.