Quick facts: I have books still unutilized; I have teaching aids like abacus, globe, flash cards not being used to their potential; I have loads of CDs which haven’t come under my kids scanner; I have a resource centre space which is open and waiting for computers to come in. This is the inefficiency of a guy who works through the week with only single pursuit. I can only dare to multiply what it is like in those 10 million classrooms like mine around the country, in which teacher motivation is the first hurdle to cross.
In my struggle to make a meaningful difference, time and energy continue to be my foes. If I have to single out the biggest challenge, this is it. How do I democratize education in a classroom and yet provide Socratic education to each and every child at his readiness levels? When I see my mastery scores dip to 40% in Reading comprehension, when my kids score an average of 35% in Social Sciences just coz they can’t read English, when progress doesn’t have a direct correlation to your efforts – I sit and cringe. When I look at my despair in that moment, I can only laugh at myself for the moments I wrote essays from ivory towers about Indian education system and teacher apathy; I can ridicule myself for waxing eloquent about the “paradigm shift” that needs to happen in the education system. When I walked in the first day, I told myself this, “If my kids are 2.5 years behind, I will strive to be 2.5 times better than the best 3rd standard teacher in this country”. I manage to barely stand equivalent to the average private school teacher!!
Last week, when I came back from an Art fest on Saturday evening, managing to stay awake running on antibiotics for 24 hrs, I crashed head on for the next 13 hrs. I woke up and worked through the Sunday on a Unit assessment creation almost in a robotic fashion. I knew then that I hit my limits of physical, mental and spiritual capacities and yet there was so much more to be done for the classroom. What do I do for Ganesh, the dyslexic? What do I do for Saurabh and Vinay, who have an attention disability? What do I do for the kleptomaniac, Nirmala? What do I do for Poonam, who still believes in the dreams of running a kirana shop than a dream of higher education? What do I do for all my 10 lowest level kids who are falling even more behind? What do I do to Daniel and Swapnil who deserve a Socratic education? In all these permutations, how do I still pull off an Annual day English play? What about shaping the culture of the school? What about the research on the community development project? As my microness consumes me, I shudder to think how most of our people’s representatives catch a goodnight’s sleep.
When I saw this video of “Once upon a School” on TED, it gave me hope. Hope that there was an idea worth pursuing. Hope that things can be made more efficient. Hope in the message of the painting that stands right above my class board, “Every cloud has a silver lining”.
Think of the most memorable moments of your life. Was it the day you showed the Archimedes principle to your mom in the bathroom? Was it the day when you collected fruits with your dad for a solar system model? Or the day your sister from the neighborhood prepared you to intonate the Bruce and the Spider story? Or the day you won those gold medals? Or maybe the day you made your successful boardroom presentations? All of us know our answers even on the wrong side of the bed.
100 years from now, it won’t matter how much money we made, how many cars we had owned, how many places we had visited, how many people we knew. But, it matters that you made a difference to a kid’s life. So, here’s asking you for 60 minutes of idealism. 60 minutes of being the change. 60 minutes of creation. 60 minutes to let yourself be changed by a 9 year old.
60 minutes to make a difference to the status quo. Period. The clock is ticking.