Akshara Teachers’ Musings
Class Setu, Village Shere
Today, the whole school was busy with preparations for Independence Day which is tomorrow. I had an idea that I might find it difficult to attract students’ attention. Other students from other classes were also making so much of noise. As usual I asked students about the topics discussed in the last lecture. Then we took picture reading. The students were so happy while giving answers and they were confident also. I asked them: “Tomorrow is Independence Day, are we going to get independence tomorrow?” The students said “No!” Then I asked them “When did we get independence? 15th August, yes, but which year?” They tried to answer but failed. Then I asked them what it means to be ruled by the British. The students said that “they” were hurting our people… they were cutting down our trees etc…they have done a few good things but more for their own profit. For example they have built big buildings for themselves. They have started railways in our country which they used as transport carrier for different goods. They were very keen on Indian spices, they wanted to take them to their own country, and by doing this business, they have earned a lot of money but our country grew poorer and poorer.
The students were listening with great attention. Naturally, we came towards the topic of our freedom fighters. While discussing this, the children mentioned many names such as Subhash Chandra Bose, Lal-Bal-Pal, Bhagatsingh etc. One of the students took the name of Mahatma Gandhi. Then I explained the difference between the philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi and the other freedom fighters. And we also discussed about the ‘Chale Jao Movement’, ‘Dandi Yatra’ movements etc. I saw a different type of pride shining on the students’ faces when they were talking about our country and our fight for freedom. I went home feeling so satisfied today!
We have started the Akshara program in two new schools and I have noted one habit of class 5 and 6 students. They continuously complain about each other to me and due to that, it was becoming very difficult for me to concentrate on class. As they gradually learned that the class teacher is not scolding any student, this habit vanished slowly. After that, I asked them when one should complain. We discussed this topic and all the students have decided that for trivial things, we will not call Tai every time. This will only bore you! Instead, speak less and work more / help more. That will get us more time to play!
One day in Shere village school in class 5, I asked one boy to hand over the weighing scale to another student. This resulted in a fight. I got so upset to see them fighting badly, but then I immediately separated them and asked the student who started the fight to apologize to the other student. But he was not ready to do so and on top of that, he was getting angry at other students also. The other students and I decided to go to the playground. Finally Pankaj apologized. All the students started clapping.
Later, I spoke to the boy’s parents about his diet and I also asked them to test his blood iron level. He was the youngest, and therefore dearest, child in his house. So I advised his parents to scold him wherever needed and to give him right treatment so that he can become a responsible individual. This led to a change. Once, when two other students were fighting in class, Pankaj broke up the fight and he even spoke to one of the students and said: “Why did you not speak to the other student nicely? What is the use of hitting each other?” This was a very pleasant surprise for me.
Khelghar, Village Bhadas
The discussion about rain was going on with students in class. I was asking them questions like – ‘How does the rain come? How does it fall down?’ They said that it came through clouds. Then I asked them how clouds came into existence, who put them in sky, what they are made up of… I planted these questions in their minds. And then I told them all about the rain cycle. During the discussion, one thing came out clearly that steam comes from water, and then this steam goes into the sky and it becomes clouds. But to make big clouds, a big amount of steam is required, so how is this steam made? One of the students answered – “My mother heats up water at home and then it produces steam and then it goes up. Like this, from all other homes also steam goes up in the sky…” It was so funny but at the same time, the little girl had given a kind of hint to find out the answer and gave them all a direction for their search. After that, we started searching about water bodies in nature. Where do we find the sources of water? We went out of the school and roamed around and then the students remembered that there are water bodies such as ponds, lakes and rivers. I told all of them that there is the biggest water body of all, called the sea. And then they realized that the big amount of steam required for clouds comes from sea and they became very sure that sea was enough for making steam. But who heats up the sea? Quickly everybody answered – “The Sun!” Then I showed them a picture of the water cycle and from that picture they told each other how rain comes! The participation of the kids made this period so special and very pleasant also, and I was feeling very satisfied by all this.