In most parts of India, this is a season of rejuvenation. The monsoon rains lend lustre to the leaves and put a spring back into the tired stems of summer. The oppressive heat that hangs over classrooms and sports fields gives way to a burst of fresh, cool air. Aquifers below and above ground get a new lease of life and promise a respite – however brief – from our water woes.
But as with everything, there is a downside. While we celebrate the monsoon and its life-renewing force, we also fear the inevitable flooding, the breakdown of civic infrastructure in the face of waterlogged roads and damaged buildings, open sewers that pose unseen dangers to walkers and drivers, and waterborne diseases.
Each season brings a unique form of disruption into our classrooms. Extreme heat sees us fanning ourselves in frustration and warning children against heatstroke. Winter brings runny noses and chapped cheeks. But the monsoon is perhaps the season most difficult to plan for and work around, despite our familiarity with it. Most schools are not as climate proof as other institutional buildings. The majority must deal with leaky ceilings and windows that let in unwelcome rainwater along with the welcome breeze. Children bring in sodden notebooks while pages from falling-apart textbooks find their way into the puddle-ridden streets.
And somehow, all through this, the school year must progress. Lessons must be taught and learnt, tests devised and taken and then corrected, and the schooldays planned and lived, one after another. Of course, all jobs must make themselves weatherproof, tasks need to get done no matter what the day outside is like. But as a teacher, one needs to also worry about how the external environment affects one’s wards. The reality of children’s lives outside the classroom cannot be ignored or simply left behind when they walk into school. So what the weather does to their homes and neighbourhoods and their pathways to school needs to be acknowledged and accounted for. Individual teachers and schools as a whole can plan their work around these realities, and remain sensitive to the difficulties faced by children, particularly those from disadvantaged households, as a result of the vagaries of the weather.
In this issue of Teacher Plus, we leave the traditional classroom behind and explore the idea of homeschooling. As parents, we are natural teachers. But what does it mean to turn your home into a space of learning for your children? What can we learn about teaching and learning from these courageous parents who have opted for an alternative model?
Whether it’s about the weather or about homeschooling, we at Teacher Plus believe that there’s something to be learned about how to do our jobs as teachers – from just about every aspect of life.