Don't Give Up
A normal office conversation with a colleague triggered a chain of thoughts which needed to be penned down and hence this piece. This colleague of mine was sharing with me how this ex colleague of ours works in a school where they focus only on those children who are very good in academics and they make them practice more and eventually they score very good marks.
Really?! Is this the whole purpose of education, to focus on those who already know the concepts, who have the confidence, who have the support, who can use their potential, then what is the role really of the school or that teacher? What about all other children? They don’t matter?!
We know there is Right to education for every child in India but how well is it being practiced? In my view, it is being mocked at by so many schools by their malpractices.
I went to a very good and famous college of our country. Apart from all the good things I credit to my college, if there is one thing I was unhappy about, that would be the performing arts of music, dance, drama which recruited only those who already knew these well. I knew dance too, but could never perform up there on stage in school or in college because my school teachers did not see that potential in me due to so many children in one class like 50 or 60 and my college wanted only the very best performers so I could only go ‘wow’ while watching all performers up there on stage and do nothing else about it as I could not even get admitted to the dance society. This which happened with me, I know, happens with millions and millions of children in India. I have not even begun to speak about so many disadvantages children in India and other countries go through.
What has happened to parents, I wonder? Are parents really able to see through the intentions of these good schools and observe needs of their own children, I wonder, and keep wondering because everywhere I see as a friend, as an educator, as a counselor of admissions, as a publicist, I can feel, that needs of children are not being met either at home or school. Many times parents choose school just to be in the social circle without realizing the true needs of self expression of their child.
At the same time, challenges of a holistic education, keep increasing because of our changing society which has more violence, more consumerism and religious hatred and other things every day. Thus there is all the more need to choose a learning environment ( right school) which is not only making a child ready for the competitive world, but one which is developing the heart, hands and the soul too. Humans have consciousness. It is the job of every school/ learning community to develop and nurture that, right from the beginning.
My chain of thoughts also took me to our recently concluded summer teachers training and theatre. While theatre class really relaxed me at many levels; physically and emotionally, I felt nurtured and supported and taken care of. One of my mentors had once made a remark that when we are in a profession where we have to hold space for others, make them feel supported, we have to show the facilitators/ teachers how support looks like and feels like and this came true for me in theatre. It gave me some energy to take the new task of making more plans and detailed individual academic and other goals for each child in my class of 16.
What inspired me was classes and time with Dr. Nita Kumar. Her main message this time for teachers was to ‘Know thyself’ and to ‘Never give up’. We, the teachers of The Southpoint School, many times have to deal with and teach children who are first generation learners. It requires tremendous effort and perseverance to keep doing it without seeing results for many efforts. We keep teaching and working with them with more creative plans and one day, we see some progress and then more, these progresses can be very subtle at times, invisible and intangible at times but they are there and after a few months or few years of consistent work there are some big changes. These children have come from an environment where no one has shown faith in these children and so when you start showing faith, they can’t believe at first and there are mental blocks too but with attention, consistent nurturing, drilling down of concepts from their supportive adults, there is some light and hope and good academic progress, personality development and confidence too.
I know in my heart if we give up on them, nobody may show faith right now, so I can’t give up and neither do my colleagues can and they too require the support, energy and inspiration from time to time to have faith in themselves to do this work which may feel like moving a mountain.
Thus whatever are your ideals and ideas to change the world, just like us, keep moving and never give up.
Children are watching you at all times.
Harshita Wadhya Shetty
Harshita is a primary school educator with a focus in Social studies and Maths, but also teaches dance and has a love for thematic choreography. She also works on publicity and sponsorships for Vidyashram the Southpoint School, where she has worked for 12 years. She is a dedicated parent of two children and is passionate about creating safe, stimulating and nurturing spaces for children.