As we near the stress-point of the school calendar – examinations coming up, syllabi to be completed, “laggards” to be dealt with – we are more focused on just getting things done rather than on the manner in which we get them done. If children have to be stuffed with prepared notes and answers to banks of question papers, so be it. If the decision to keep some back so that the school results do not “suffer” in the public eye, then so be it. If one more preparatory examination has to be squeezed into the already busy study schedule, then so be it.
Even when we know that change is necessary and urgent, we push that consciousness to the back of our minds, deciding to wait “until the next opportune moment” to institute change or even think about it more carefully. I can almost hear you say: “But what can we do, the be-all and end-all of our existence is here, the board examination! How can you ask us to pause now?”
If we decide that we cannot pause now, we decide to lose the moment altogether. Because the moment for change is when we realise the need for change. If you feel that instead of asking your students to cram for one more series of practice exams, you could ask them to sit back and reflect on how they could approach the idea of exams in a way that doesn’t defeat them, then do that. Be available to your students on the days meant for those exams to give them the extra attention they have been denied so far. And others who don’t need it can use this opportunity to help their classmates. Talk about ways of coping with success and failure and give them the quiet space to think about what they are learning… and this way they will perhaps be able to deal a little bit with the tensions that the outside world places on them anyway.
If you’ve paused long enough to stop and read this, then allow yourself that pause in your classroom as well. Sometimes, it’s that split second of thinking (or not thinking) that gets us to where we need to go!