(STORIES FROM THE SCHOOL – III)
Unit: The Road Not Taken
What’s your ambition?(The same old innocent question)
I was pretty sure of the statistics for the answers.
As usual one-third of the class proudly claimed they want to be doctors. What kind? No idea. That’s fine.
Each one of you loves to be one? What’s the main attraction?
And the prestige?
Yes, yes, of course!!
So that means you would ‘love’ to be with sick people all your working hours? How many of you – now?
To my utter dismay, NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM!
Oh, what did I do? Did I ruthlessly eradicate a batch of doctors? Sorry, that was not my intention.
Wait! There were two – but one, a wannabe politician and the other a wannabe journalist. But a politician… and a journalist… and the sick…?
Think of that teacher who doesn’t want to be with students, that salesman who doesn’t want to be with customers, that vet who doesn’t want to be with animals…
Now I know what’s wrong with the doctors these days.
Now I am thinking what I can do to help (at least some of) my wannabe doctors to be REAL doctors.
(STORIES FROM THE SCHOOL – II)
She couldn’t answer –
Meet me later.
What is the problem, dear?
Hmm… no more questions.
Let me know when you are ready.
She was late again-
Third day in a row.
No reply – as usual.
Her shabby uniform,
Were no good signs.
Time to poke my nose.
Posted in Childhood, Daughters, Emotions, Life, Uncategorized
Tagged children, Fear, Girls, Poem, Poetry, Scared, School, Students, Tension
“Good! Next, you there, read out your answer, please.” F stood up and started preparing to read. Everything looked just fine, so far, but nobody knew those were the initial peaceful minutes of a slight thriller. Seconds passed by, and she was still preparing to read. A chuckle started to spread all over the class. The busy teacher became curious, and before losing herself to anger, confirmed F had been (physically and emotionally) all right. The friends had no evidence to prove it otherwise. F grew more pathetic and looked at her neighbour helplessly. The teacher, holding on to her last vestige of self-control, tried to encourage her to read. But alas, nothing happened! F was alarmingly quiet as if someone had accidentally pressed her mute button. She miserably gestured something to her friend who failed to decipher it. Already about five precious minutes from those final periods of the Term had been spent in anticipation of an answer that seemed infinitely remote. The chuckling had by now given way to a perplexed, uneasy silence. Ms. J. , unable to take it any more, stormed out of the class passing this verdict – “Call me when you are ready!” The confused class almost let out a cry, shocked by the disconcerting turn of events.
Ms. J. was at sea. Unlike many previous occasions, that day there was no homework defaulter, leaving no reason for the girls to worry about, or the teacher to take out her vehement sermon the nth time in two months. What must have gone wrong?
As Ms. J. sat there in her room, they arrived – F escorted by the beneficent school leader who of late had been sincerely carrying out her role as the helping angel for the ill-fated ones. “Teacher, she will read it.” Ms. J. readily agreed to the compromise. The angel was asked to leave. F looked desperate to let go the only shield against the likely onslaught of the annoyed teacher. Having no time to risk that favourable twist, F was released too.
No other story might have had a smoother ending. The teacher got back to the class, F read out her answers and the teacher continued from where she had stopped as if nothing had gone wrong.
But Ms. J is still waiting – for F to explain it all to her, someday.
Posted in Childhood, Education, Emotions, Life, Teaching/Teachers, Uncategorized, Worries
Tagged anecdote, class, classroom, Experience, incident, Life, School, Story, Students, trouble, Waiting
“The bell is not ringing!” This was a frequent complaint during the last two days from the annoyed teachers.
To understand the extent of the problem you need to be a teacher. In a school the absence of bell means a standstill. This is how one teacher reported, “I came prepared for the 40 min class, but even after completing it, together with some activities I concocted just now, it’s not getting over. 40 minutes, this long? What’s going on?” I looked at the clock and sensed trouble. The bell!
The fed up teachers longed to flee the thoroughly enlightened class; the bored students awaited the next teacher for a different kind of replenishment.
Who was responsible? Who had been ringing the bell all these days? Kaka, a hapless victim of the new laws, used to do it. The bell had been punctual all these years and we never noticed the presence, the effort of a human being behind it. We took his service for granted. Now the person has left, leaving the bell dumb and the whole schedule upset.
* * *
The attendant is reminded once again, the bell goes and the each one heaves a sigh of relief.
The situation rings a bell and I recall O. Henry’s The Pendulum:
Nobody heard the click and rattle of the cog-wheels as the third-floor front of the Frogmore flats buzzed its machinery back into the Order of Things. A band slipped, a spring was touched, the gear was adjusted and the wheels revolve in their old orbit.
I reflect: We miss you Kaka. Grateful to you. May God keep you safe, wherever you are!
[Thank you, Julia, for the inspiration!]
Posted in Blessings, Education, Life, Nostalgia, Teaching/Teachers, Uncategorized, Worries
Tagged Bell, Duties, Gratitude, School, Students, Teachers, Thank you
Our little environmentalists from grade five did their bit towards creating awareness among the students on the World Environment Day. Aren’t their posters cute?
Once again my favourite tree quote:
Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money. ~Cree Indian Proverb
Posted in Art, Blessings, Nature, Trees, Uncategorized
Tagged Art, Awareness, Creativity, Deforestation, Nature, Posters, School, Students, Trees, World Environment Day, Worries
I usually wind up my advice sessions in class with this point, “These are merely suggestions. You need not limit yourselves within the lines I have drawn. Feel free, go to any extend to express your creativity – and that’s what I ultimately expect from you.” Majority of them happily follow just what I say. I call them good, obedient students. Many of them dare to be innovative. They are excellent students.
But geniuses incarnate rarely. Last year I got such a student (glad to have her with me this year too) – an avid reader and a gifted artist who thinks out of the box.
What makes her notebook stand out is her ability to artistically represent what she visualizes out of the lessons. Almost the whole lesson will be there in pictures and captions. If it is a poem, literally each and every image will come alive in her unique style of drawing. Each time she gave me her book for correction she offered me an intellectual, visual treat.
Take a look at these illustrations.
This is how she began.
A lot of details about the authors are collected and included.
This is how she illustrated the classic poem by Tennyson – ‘The Brook.’ Have a closer look at the details and you can see that she has included even the minute points from the poem.
Song of the Rain by Khalil Gibran
Anyone who has read Wordsworth’s ‘Solitary Reaper’ would not need any more explanations here. What attracted me is her imagination to make the three singers stand on the victory stand, giving the first position to the reaper.
- Finally this is one of my favourites – Pam Ayres’ ‘Oh I Wish I’d Looked After Me Teeth.’
These are the original creations of a 14-year-old girl born into an ordinary family. Are the parents fully aware of potentials of this prodigy? I am not sure. Anyway these days they are seriously thinking about her higher studies – she aspires to be a doctor. May God help her and all the deserving students like her.
Posted in Art, Blessings, Creativity, Education, Life, Notebooks
Tagged Art, Creativity, Designs, Drawing, Ideas, Illustration, Innovations, Notebooks, Pictures, School, Sketches, Students
I should teach better – that is it. For the past few days I have been thinking about the new methods and techniques I should adopt for the betterment of my students. Although about to round off a decade in teaching profession, I have no plans to settle down contented with the experiences of the decade.
Many of the methods that I mastered in the beginning of my teaching career have become irrelevant or outdated. The students who I teach today were born into the technologically advanced days. They are more proficient than we teachers in many aspects. But there are a few qualities that students expect from teachers irrespective of the age in which they live – the qualities that stand the test of time.
I respect all my teachers for what they have done for me. But just a few of them are adored – for the seemingly simple things they did for me.
[I am immensely grateful to the following teachers of mine:
Mrs Annie, for the chance she ONCE gave me to run errands for her while I was in grade two!
Mrs Shobana, for the positive comments she ONCE made on my exam paper!
Prof. E. John Mathew, for the effort he took ONCE to comment on the good features of my essays!
Mr. Ramankutty, for appreciating my answers in front of a batch of aspiring journalism students!]
A personal touch matters a lot in any relationship. So why not bring that into the student-teacher relationship too?
All good teachers are not favourite teachers. And all favourite teachers need not be good teachers (considering the quality of teaching). My dream is to be both to my students.
Tomorrow onwards I will have to teach two large classes – class ten and nine with thirty-five and forty-five students respectively. Personal attention to each one of those eighty students – is that feasible? I take up the challenge – cheerfully!