Is this what we are teaching!
I had been exasperated for a while. All the hard work, all the big promises made to parents, to myself, came crashing down like a pyramid of cards. Had I gone wrong somewhere, or had I not been able to stick to the right path?
These questions kept haunting me for many days after that very unpleasant incident when some students made a porn sketch of a teacher and circulated it in class.
In the last 15-20 years of my career as a teacher, there have been innumerable incidents where I have had to guide, counsel, or reprimand adolescents, and I have been doing it with a good success rate.
But my confidence and optimism dropped to an all-time low with this. Gradually, as my mind cleared and the fog of guilt dispelled a little, I made a promise to myself to clean the terribly dirty minds of those 40 teenagers by using the broom of positivity, the detergent of love, and the mop of understanding.
Every mind works on the principle of GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out). What have these young minds been feeding on? With so much negativity from newspapers to neighborhood talk, from films to social media – everything is polluted.
We made some adjustments to the timetable for a fortnight by borrowing two periods from every subject and assembly time giving us the first hour of school every day for this challenging work!
We started with some meditation, yoga, and singing of devotional and motivational songs. We also started compulsory reading of value education books and planned some activities suggested by the CBSE in the life skills manual. But most of the times it was merely didactic; the students were just doing it for the sake of making us happy, or maybe they were just enjoying the fun involved in the activities. I realized some more input was required to propel them on the path of self-discovery and self-realization. Flipping through the pages of the book You Can Win by the renowned author Shiv Khera, an idea sprouted in my mind.
The next day, I entered the class with 8-10 copies of the book and told those 40 pairs of staring eyes that they had had enough from us and now was the time that they had some fun teaching each other and that this year their life skill evaluation would be on this.
Students are not very happy reading heavy stuff or text these days but when they were told that there would be groups and each group would do one unit there was a sign of relief on their faces.
So, the students divided themselves into homogeneous groups of five with the help of their class teacher and then they elected a skipper. Each group picked up a slip to know which chapter they had to work on. We prepared a project plan and handed it over to the skippers. The parameters on which they would be judged were – team work, participation, content, presentation, role play, usage of poems/songs, props or AV aids, new vocabulary and performance in question hour.
To add a dash of excitement, we told each group to give a fancy name to their group. We had names like Time Chasers, Messengers of Goal Setting, Super 5, Challengers, Great Motivators, Positive Five, etc.
In the beginning it took a lot of patience to make them arrive at common conclusions and strategies and to manage their conflict but as the days passed they learnt to get along well and respect each other’s opinions.
It was very satisfying to watch them discussing positive ideas, using positive vocabulary and putting in their energy in a creative direction. Someone making a ppt, someone preparing a chart, someone helping the other with role play, someone trying to compose a song or someone reading the text again and again to get ready for the question hour. It was real fun.
Finally the D-day, when the work was to be presented, arrived. There was a request from the students to call their parents.
The rest is history! This batch went on to give one of the best board results and all of them are back in class XI brimming with confidence and more importantly full of hopes and aspirations of a better future. Moreover, they have taken an initiative to conduct value education sessions for the whole school in the morning assembly without compromising time for their academics. The broom has cleaned and cleaned well!
Now some more brooming, mopping, dusting tasks for me….
The author is the principal of Tulsi College of Education for Women, Ambala, Haryana and also an academic consultant at Tulsi Public School, Ambala, Haryana. She is a Ph.D. in education from the Department of TT & NFE, IASE, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in the book?
You Can Win by Shiv Khera is a very popular book and will be available at all leading book stores. It is also available online on amazon.in and flipkart. You can also download the book for free in English and Hindi.