Summer breaks are horrible. Means the kids stay home and do nothing but watch TV or play video games. Can’t blame them – too *bleep-ing hot outside. No decent swimming pools – none that comes with proper safety standards at least.
Came across this wonderful TED Talk by Ken Robinson (yeah, dunno what rock I was lying under):
I was a really average student. I could have been really good but I never put enough time into it and then there was Maths *shudder. Most of my teachers couldn’t stand me mostly because I asked a lot of questions, disrupted the class, made silly comments, and was just really the class clown and spent most of my time standing outside the class then sitting inside.
What I lacked was an interest in anything except languages – English and Urdu, and I was quite good at those. Another thing I loved was the debating club. Was a part throughout school and college. Naturally I took a language course in college and then at the university level. But, it was disappointing to say the least! All the teachers were interested in was to just “cover the course”. It was a constant race and we were unwilling mules.
Same when I became a teacher! The school had to have a uniform curriculum through all its branches throughout the country which makes sense. But what I found really silly was that we had to do the exact same Q&As with the students, and exact same exercises, and exact same word definitions. It was literature and grammar we were teaching for crying out loud. A teacher is supposed to fine tune her lessons according to the level of the students in the class. So for instance the first year my class was really brilliant. Surprisingly and annoyingly good. So I could go through passages quickly with them, teach them more advance concepts, give them extra reading to do at home. The year after that was a complete different set of kids. They lacked basic concepts and had to be taught from scratch. However, I was expected to teach both groups the exact same thing at exactly the same pace.
I remember how I tried doing Stream of Consciousness exercises with the latter group and focused on just doing class activities that did not require any writing for a week. Idea was to get them to take an interest in literature and be able to understand and feel the words. I had a lot of angry parents come in next week complaining how they weren’t paying for their kids to have a good time in school but to learn and show results. Sighhh …
You know what was really sad? Those kids were really bright though their grades might let you to believe otherwise. They came up with the most fascinating stories and ideas. Imagination was real to them. It was easier than fact. But then you had to tell them, “I don’t have time for your stories. We have to complete 10 exercises in an hour and I gotta check them all.” Yeah, that was the goal of every teachers day – finish the course work for that day and forget about whether the students actually understood anything or not.
My request to all teachers: Students who are not good in your subject does not mean they are bad students. Even if they are not good in any subject in school, it still does not mean they are bad students. It just means, they have yet to find out what interests them. For me, it was my flashing lights (I mean “tech”) and startups. Something I was never introduced to during school, college or university. For others it may be dancing, painting, skating, cooking … anything.
Please don’t kill their self-respect and creativity.
P.S. Phew – will try and keep the one a lil light-hearted. 😉