Learning while teaching

Vijay Swami

Learning-while-teaching As teachers, we must appreciate and nurture the different qualities and talents that children exhibit instead of curbing them and asking them to conform to a certain way of life just because we believe it right. As a teacher, I have had several experiences where my students have taught me lessons. I would like to share with you today one such experience.

This incident occurred long ago, when I was teaching an English lesson for class IV. The class was going on smoothly. Everybody was paying attention to what I was saying, except for one student in the third row. I noticed that this student was looking out the window all the time I was teaching. Continuing to teach, I tried to capture his attention by going and standing next to, him. This made him alert, but only for a short while. I did not want to disturb the flow of teaching by reprimanding him. When my lesson was over, I expressed my anger and asked the boy to stand up.

I asked him, “What was so important that you were looking outside?”
The boy just stood silently and did not answer.
“Can you tell me what I was teaching?” I shouted at him.
The boy said, “yes”.
“Then tell me the last two sentences that I spoke in class,” I asked with the intention of cornering him.
The boy immediately repeated my sentences and I had no answer for my anger.

This was an eye-opening experience for me. Just because he wasn’t looking at me while I was teaching, I had assumed that he wasn’t listening to me. This was a boy who was very comfortable doing two things at one time. He could multi-task. I appreciated this quality in him.

After that I had no contact with the boy, Sonkrong Manyu, as I was transferred from the school. Recently, I happened to meet him at a market after almost 22 years. Today Sonkrong is well employed and his ability to multitask has stood him in good stead. When he recalled the incident, it was revealing to both of us in its’ own way. For me it was learning.

The author is a Fulbright Fellow and Executive Director of the Research Institute of World’s Ancient Traditions Cultures and Heritage (RIWATCH), Roing, Arunachal Pradesh. He can be reached at vijayarunachal@gmail.com.

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