It is a well-known fact that going to school has never been an exciting activity for kids. Despite the conventional elementary school classroom consisting of roughly 70 to 80 students in each section, kids never feel comfortable attending school. All the students impatiently wait for school to get over and spring up from their seats and rush home at sharp 1 PM regularly. Students keep a hopeful eye on the seemingly slow wall clock, which is mounted right above the menacing blackboard. Their ears, instead of paying heed to the teachers voice, are on the constant lookout for the sweet sound of one metal striking another, signifying liberty for the given day.
Through this blog, I will be sharing a different perspective of the standard classroom which I have acquired over the years . When I was in grade 7, I shifted from the usual daytime elementary school to a residential school.The stark difference between the classroom of a residential school and that of a standard day school was astounding. Being in an enormous classroom which provided both ventilation as well as a scintillating ambiance seemed almost surreal and unlike anything I could have ever foreseen.
Each classroom had just around 6 to 8 students in accordance with their respective subjects. Each class was bifurcated as per the students’ subject selection, making the classrooms immensely less crowded than my former, or any other day school for that matter. The composure I witnessed in the faculty here seemed so foreign compared to the ever frustrated staff of my former institute .This caused the realization that it may be so due to the immense burden endured by day school teachers on a daily basis whereas in sparsely populated schools, teachers undoubtedly have a lessened academic workload.
A striking change in atmosphere was also observed in these classrooms as whiteboards and markers replaced blackboards and chalk. The transfer of education here also acquired a much more technologically advanced and a holistic visual medium . The seating arrangements were not in the format of the conventional straight lines, but had now undertaken the unique form of a curve. This strategy was implemented in consultation with world-class educationalists who are extremely proficient in the field.
Under assessment, everything is vastly different in residential schools than compared to day schools. The only thing which remains unchanged is the wall clock sitting right at the top of the smart class display wall. Along with it, the students’ never ending anticipation of the clock to tick faster. I have often wondered if this feeling is universal or is it just us Indians who lack something vital in education. I have seen kids walk slowly and grudgingly while going to school but sprint with all their might on the way back. This starkly reflects upon the kind of spirit that every student possesses throughout their school life. I often find myself wondering as to why this sense of boredom prevails in students’ minds.
I believe that there is a world of a difference between teaching and educating students. One should impart knowledge rather than teaching bookish facts. During the summer break, I got the opportunity to educate underprivileged kids. Due to the pandemic outbreak, the probability of offline board exams occuring looked slim and I , like most of my peers, faced the wrath of online classes. During this time, I took it upon myself to explore and gain a deeper understanding of my hometown. I used to think about how poor kids must be availing online classes. The limited resources and facilities surely would have imposed great restrictions on them. How can an underprivileged family manage to pay for online classes and internet facilities when they are already struggling to earn bread and butter? This question always haunted me.
My curiosity to know how underprivileged kids manage their studies online started increasing day by day. During this time, my father introduced me to a local NGO running a few schools in the slums and other unnoticed areas. There I got an opportunity to be a volunteer and teach the underprivileged kids. My family greatly resisted my decision to go ahead with teaching those kids.They were concerned for my health and safety during these unprecedented times and rightly so.
Nevertheless, I finally got permission, and was filled with excitement. But at the same time, I was nervous as I had never really taught anyone, especially underprivileged children. To overcome this fear, I prepared my mind and nervously waited for the scheduled day and time to commence teaching.
When the day arrived, I reached the venue 20 minutes before time out of sheer excitement. It came as a real shocker to me that there was no classroom instead just an open, airy space with no walls. There were no tables or chairs for students.Just a single tiny broken chair and a small table was available for the teacher. The other thing that perplexed me was that the count of 15 students varied from 4 to 14 years of age. There were a few obstacles in front of me on the initial day. Should I teach them numeric counting or alphabets? Which language is more apt for communication? How to manage students of such different age groups?
The first day of class soon answered all these queries and proved to be an excellent learning opportunity which helped me prepare for the classes ahead. Though the list of things to be tackled was long, one thing that motivated me the most was observing active student participation in my first class. The class that was supposed to have lasted for only an hour extended itself to a couple of hours and could have lasted even more had the rain not interrupted us that day. When the kids came to know that I would be taking their class regularly, the excitement and joy on their faces was clear as day. Their jubilant faces evidently revealed their anticipation and enthusiasm of receiving classes regularly.
This contentment of the kids gave me the energy and zeal to return back to them every single day. I could not even bear missing a single class as I could not fathom to see those innocent little minds feeling betrayed as I came back the next day. I am currently working on a plan to optimally utilize the given resources to maximize efficiency in my teaching. I am confident that with combined effort and willpower; I will be able to achieve the desired output. In all these instances, what amuses me the most is that despite being the teacher,I seem to be greatly learning from these classes. I am sure; with time this learning will only improve and help me gain further insight on true education and teaching.