The year ahead

Anandhi Kumar

Do what you can – and the task will rest lightly in your hand, so lightly that you will be able to look forward to the more difficult tests which may be awaiting you.
Dag Hammarskjold

comment The coming year is particularly exciting for me, my colleagues and all the children of the school since we are moving to our own school building. On the one hand is the excitement and the newness, on the other we are fully aware of what it takes to fill a place with life and love. Gardening from scratch, painting the new walls according to the needs of each class, getting oriented with the new spaces, helping children who dearly loved the old school (which was green with age old trees) to cross the rainbow and feel love and responsibility towards the new place! It seems to call for a lot of mental and emotional preparation! Apart from this is the academic and administrative work!

For a teacher in a Waldorf school every year is a promotion to a class higher – for the teacher accompanies the class from grade one to seven or eight, teaching as many subjects as possible. One can imagine the apprehensions involved – but the advice we all get and freely give is – to take one year at a time!

Come summer and we have the time to plan ahead for the year – have an overview of the year and gradually go into the nitty-gritty of lesson planning – and experience a range of emotions from love for what we do to fear of can we do it well!

To begin with, every year sees new subjects being introduced. As I prepare for the block on plant life, I begin to observe and draw and read. Did I know that every intricate growth in a plant or a tree is preceded by a growth in the root structure? Of course not. And to think how easily we cut trees! The work seems incomplete – I have planned a holiday in an environment where I can experience the richness of plant life as part of my preparation. The wonder that was lost when forced to learn labels as a student is found thanks to this kind of preparation.

Going through pages of a book on Ancient Cultures seems to transport me to another time and place – if not for the heat and the mangoes, I might have found it hard to touch earth after mulling over mythologies from various cultures.

Preparing for geography seems interesting – specially the physical features, terrain, climate and so on.

An everyday singing session with my daughter ensures that I’d be adequately prepared with songs for the year… I wish learning poetry, verses and speech exercises by heart were that easy… as if the climate was not sufficient to sweat it out!

To add to my woes I must get ready with Decimals – for someone who just about passed in Math tests and exams as a student one can imagine what all this can do! How glad I was in Class 11 when I chose the arts and humanities – swearing never again to have anything to do with the ‘M’ word! There it creeps in – the mysterious ways of mathematical destiny.

As I sit back and think of all my colleagues and their own personal journeys, a feeling that I am not a lone victim begins to grow – every one has a cross to carry – mine is math, perhaps for another it is something else – the cross is bearable only because we can seek help from one another and experience what it is to be taught without being judged. A quality that one tries to work with in the class – for every human being needs to be respected for the sake of being human – not because they may be good at Math or English. As I think of all the children in the class, and in the school a quiet rest envelops me. A surrendering trust in the words of Dag Hammarskjold seems to bathe me. Well it is not important that I teach them Math or History well – It is important they do what they can – so they can look forward to more difficult tests that may be awaiting them – in the greatest examination hall called Life!

The author teaches at Abhaya, a Waldorf school, in Secunderabad. She can be reached at [email protected].

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