This issue of the magazine is all about that daily commute to school – for children, that is. Yes, there’s a whole other group that faces that daily grind too, the teachers and staff who make the school work. I realize we have not talked about the various ways in which teachers reach their work place. Many of you pile into the same crowded buses or share autos, some may work in schools where the teachers get bus privileges too, or others may be fortunate enough to have a personal vehicle, and yet others may not have to commute at all, with quarters on the campus of a residential school.
No matter what the distance, a teacher’s daily journey neither begins nor ends with that commute. For many of us, mornings are a complicated mix of housework, cooking, quick revisions of the day’s lessons, maybe helping others in the household get ready for their studies or their work, getting organized for the rest of the day and then – if you’re not breathless already – setting off to greet your class. And it all starts again when you pack your bag and return, to catch up on things at home, and maybe even continue with corrections or reading before the day ends. It’s more like a continuous cycle rather than something with a clear beginning or end. One often wonders where the pockets of relaxation are, and when the energy levels can be restored so that one can keep going.
I find those restorative pools in the busyness of the commute – the bus ride, the car drive, the jumpy auto rickshaw, the walk. These are times when I switch my mind off the work, the responsibilities of home, and focus on the present. The trees, the colour of the sky, the small dramas of everyday street life. In many ways, the time spent on travel happens within brackets. It can’t be used for anything else, so you might as well use it for reflection and mental rest. Of course, in some cities and towns the drive can be stressful, especially if you are at the wheel, but I have found the trick is to simply accept the chaos of the road and set it aside so that you are not affected by it. After all, getting stressed about it is not going to change anything, is it?
By and large, children use their bus ride for exactly that – to energize themselves through chatter and games on the bus, or by letting their minds wander as they stare out the window. On the way home, they use it to unwind, to exchange gossip or play games.
It wouldn’t be such a bad idea to take a leaf or two out of their book and slip it into ours!