Tag Archives: School

153: The Thrill In The Uexpected

2 Jun

Ever since I got here, I’ve experienced a series of unexpected joys. As I was very matter-of-factly walking towards the bus shuttle after exiting the airport, I chanced upon the first bus in line, which was relatively empty, that I decided to get home by. On approaching the bus, there she was sitting right in the front seat in direct sight – my first ever psychology teacher from back in the day. One really finds it difficult to sum up all the feelings that bubble and gurgle within you…a fine blend of shock, excitement, confusion, joy, thrill, all woven into a fabric of beautiful memories put together. We couldn’t believe our chance meeting – on a bus out of so many buses, at an airport of all places; and after what’s soon going to be 15 years. Of course this count was meant to highlight just how long it’s been, except it also reminds me just how long ago I finished my 10th board exams. It goes without saying that we spent the rest of the bus ride seated next to each other, sharing titbits from our life and experiences, and how the journey has been so far. To say that the ride was too short would fall short of how I felt; where’s that traffic jam when you really need it?!

In-keeping with this, and as if I hadn’t walked back in time enough, I passed my school during functional school hours yesterday for the first time since I’d left it. As I drove past it, I couldn’t resist the urge to get off the car and walk right in, to just perhaps see if I could meet the teachers I’d once spent every single day of my life with. And I did. I still cannot describe the feeling; perhaps the connections run so deep that they’ve remained embedded somewhere within me in a place that’s hard to access. Time really isn’t enough when you’re walking down memory lane. Sometimes words aren’t, either.

It’s a strange feeling, this. There’s always been an indefinable friction within me to go back to where I came from. Notwithstanding the trying times that they were, and not discounting the amazing things that were also happening back then, it really isn’t a road I like to walk down. Things change, people change, everything changes. Apart from this insecurity of not being remembered or being acknowledged like you perhaps once were, it’s this strange tug of war stepping back in time versus watching your memories from the safety of disconnected distance. As I walked away from these two episodes, it only reminded me that as the years pile up, so do our own thoughts and perceptions of the whats and hows. To say I didn’t take away so much from these experiences and in turn give so much to these experiences as well, would negate the actual power of reminiscence, time, and life itself.

135: Red Pen Memories

15 May

I’m sitting with a red pen, armed almost, and remembering the seed of fear it had germinated in me. The sight of a red pen in any of my work was only welcomed when it re-affirmed the best of my capabilities; and dreaded at other times. I wonder if it continues its legacy with the students whose work I mark today. Is there fear, or just complacency now? Kids today fear less, or fear different things. How far or how effective this colour is on their answer sheets is one I can only guess or confirm upon clarification.

Flitting between the rustle of papers, I feel odd and out of place in a bodily experience. Is this really me? Never did I think of being here, again. Never did I plan for any of this. Little did I imagine making someone chase marks again.

It’s a strange feeling.

For now I’m caught in the urgent thoughts of many squeezed in a 60-minute clock. There are spews of panic, confidence, confusion, “silly mistakes” (oh how I hated that word, because I made so many of them), hurry, and a slight streak of calmness. I can’t help but smile, and also grimace at the same time.

117: Short Notes

27 Apr

In continuation of yesterday’s post and sick tease, we woke up to some serious stormy conditions – no visible sunrise on time, no colour-changing sky, deep black pregnant clouds, no flirty breeze, no dust storm and no wind storm. It was dark when I woke up, which was both comforting and weird (530am feels like 7am these days). We opened our balcony doors to the fantastic outdoors while sipping our respective cuppas. I didn’t soak clothes to be washed later – typical Bangalore mentality, especially when you wake up to conditions like I did today. An umbrella found its place in my rucksack, and off we dispersed to our offices. All of us – kids (big and small), teachers, guards – looked at the sky as we crossed our sports field en-route the main building. Kids exclaimed in glee dekho aaj to sky bhi nahin dikha, bas badal hi badal (look! we didn’t get to see the sky today, just clouds and more clouds). And then when I checked the quadrangle an hour later, the sky was right there in its blueness with all those promising clouds GONE.

If you haven’t gathered so far, I can’t handle this tease. It’s a cruel joke to play. :(

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I’m beginning to get attached to my students, both seniors and juniors. I am a loyal and possessive person by default, so it goes without saying that this was bound to happen. A delusional me never imagined connecting or even getting attached to students here. We’re now clear why I called myself delusional here. I’ve picked my favourites – and most of them are the naughty kinds. The teacher in me cannot and will not be partial to anyone, but how can I not have expected my heart to soften towards kids who are in this like you and me were once upon a time. Damn it!

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A came home early and when I opened the door expecting our AC to be delivered, it was him instead – :) . He brought flowers for me today – lilies – and I happened to bake the best ever banana cake I’ve ever baked, which I fed him with. There’s gratitude in this serendipitous synchronicity that was today. :)

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115: The Ease Of Walking Halfway

25 Apr

It was till almost 11pm last night when I finally got up from my chair to head to bed. I knew what I wanted to do in class today, except I didn’t have the means to get it all done. It’s finally time to get into that part of my subject which I find both fascinatingly intriguing and painful to study as well. My mind only kept insisting that I begin this new chapter with either a reading from a book or by watching a movie based on the same book.

I rushed to my Kindle (what a blessing technology is) only to find the book unavailable, perhaps for controversial reasons. A visit to the bookstore was out of the question. Besides, venturing into this heat towards zero guarantees is a risk I wasn’t willing to take. However, some thinking and help later, I had the movie with me, ready for my students to watch today.

They came halfway too, today. Having sacrificed their break to watch this movie made it seem worth my while. I wish I could be there to see them through the end of the movie (I had another class, but they watched the entire thing in one sitting, letting it spill into their next hour). One needs support, answers, closure when you’re dealing with something so real, yet so unknown and new.

I am looking forward to opening them up to more experiences with my subject, but in time of course. However, these small joys of working, learning, exploring avenues and potentials of learning seal the deal completely.

114: Manic Monday

24 Apr

My posts are increasingly a review about the days that come and sometimes crash into me or days I mostly walk into with some sense of chaos. I hope to work on that and write more about meaningful things, except the only meaningful things that occupy my mind are that of school and class-related work. It’s something I’m working on.

Before reflecting on today, let me quickly reflect on the embarrassment that was yesterday’s RCB match. I’ll assume they have a menacingly dense grey cloud holding fort right above their heads, because there’s just no other explanation to that. I mean I actually have no words for the joke of a nightmare that experience was. But I’m an RCB girl, and I’ll just have to give my team the best vibes and thoughts I can. FOOLS.

Today was about learning, throwing myself out there a little more than I’m used to, and tackling fear by its horns. It turns out that rushing head-on into a fear sort of dismantles it instantly. I was left feeling victorious, empowered, and so silly for being afraid of something I’d obviously magnified in my mind over the weekend, and therefore consequently wasted so many brain noodles on this stress.

There’s a palpable joy in accountability, in watching someone, even if it is one person, turn to you and say thank you with genuineness. Sense of self and confidence intact, gratitude patches even the most fulfilled souls. Maybe this is what keeps teachers going despite the cruel hell their daily life can be, on an okay day. Maybe it is about being a little more than a forgotten speck whom the world walks past. I don’t know, and I’m not sure.

Meeting students fresh out of their board exams, students I’ve never met before, and students who looked at me as though my being there made a difference to them (even though talking about an exam is the last thing anyone wants immediately after a paper), was an eye-opener today.

Every single day is a new day, and every single day brings forth an opening leaf with fresh lines to read, learn, and cherish.

62: Right Into The Pool

3 Mar

It’s been well over a year since I quit my job and left Bangalore. I don’t ever remember what it felt like to sit at home without an agenda to turn to. The last time I quit a job ever so randomly was shortly after I’d joined the place –  a horrible experience; my first and hopefully the last – and I still recollect ma telling me that sitting at home wasn’t an option. Luckily, another opportunity came my way soon after, and it was one that would stick with me till I’d relocate.

The past year was immensely trying; never had it been this difficult to get a call from somewhere, anywhere. Never did silence bang on my door this loudly. Never had rejection felt this prickly. You’ll get something worthy of you when the time is right, I’d cajole myself. I do believe in the conspiracies of this universe wholeheartedly, in the need to surrender when all else fails. Call it faith in the synergies of forces much larger and stronger than us, if you will.

Not so long ago, I got an unexpected call from a school, and before I could comprehend what was going on, they offered me a job. I remember staring at that email well into the night, showing it to A repeatedly just to recheck if I hadn’t in fact lost my mind. Here I am today, a new joinee all over again. And here I am, trying to stay afloat in the pool I’ve been thrown into.

There’s a lot going on, and it’s naturally not advisable to compare anything, ever. Therefore what was once a cushy, comfortable corporate life, is now a walk down corridors ringing with the chaos and madness that is a school abuzz with all things it should be. I’m still trying to find my feet; I highly doubt it’ll happen anytime soon. There are children of all sizes, lengths, voices, hairstyles, and of course types, even though they’re all clad in the same uniform.

Yesterday, during an impromptu invigilation session, here’s what my mind was going crazy with behind an obviously strict demeanour.

A girl who had the best handwriting and was attacking her paper with a cool calmness that made me love her instantly. She meant business, but with such composure.

A boy who was my timekeeper – 1 hour 26 minutes left, ma’am; 48 minutes 40 seconds left, ma’am. He wore specs – even more adorable, and I wish he could be my timekeeper forever.

A boy who wanted my attention all the time – it didn’t help that he was made to sit right at the back. Ma’am, can I eat? I’m done with my paper. What even…hahaha!

A boy who wrote his paper with every ounce of seriousness that he could hold together, but in a jiffy (he was done over an hour before the bell went), who went on to rolling magnets all over his desk and throwing slips of paper with ghosts (Casper) drawn on them. (the girl in front of him handed me the piece sombrely, hoping to get her worth from that unruly distraction)

A front seater who wore specs that were very smart, but too big for his face.

A boy who didn’t know what was going on – with the paper, and the world at large.

That girl who unfortunately had it all in her stationery kit, especially during an exam.

A boy who promptly walked up to me after he was done and asked if he could play with a rubix cube. Where even? Apparently classrooms now have these ingenious contraptions for times like these.

And of course, it seemed like most of the class was on a trip to the washroom. In ones of course.

So yes, I’m right into the pool and giving it my all to stay afloat and informed and everywhere all at once and just enough to be out of everyone’s way.

And I also feel that this might just be the universe’s way of making me hands on with kids, because I just don’t know how to. :)

On Being Different

20 Jan

My brother and I owe many a thanks to our mother for her decisions and choices towards our upbringing. When she decided to enrol us in a school that was very different from the regular fare and in one which had an alternate perspective towards learning and the concept of education itself; plus having enticed us with the bait of it having no uniforms, no tests, no exams, etc, my reaction was a mix of anger and resentment – not because I’d envisioned the outcome of being different but because I wanted to go back to my regular school where I had begun my education and where I had already established a favourable reputation; but where I remembered zero of my classes or classmates and whose PT classes and teacher I despised (we were rejoining post a relocation from another city). I felt resentful at my fate for not being in my control because heck I would go back to my comfortable confines and to a place where the teachers knew me and where my report cards gave me the results any kid would love seeing. But that was (thankfully) not to be.

And so my brother and I began yet another journey in a place that reeked of a newness that I didn’t want to have to deal with. Everything was new and everything was unknown and everything needed me to start over from the very beginning. It was painful initially; and then each day rolled into the next at a speed that made me let go of any feeling whatsoever, like this universe engineers it every single time for each of us. Our entry began with a trip to a rainforest; something that was a way of this new school’s life. You almost always had to be hands on if you wanted to learn about something; including the art of learning itself. And so it was very customary for the kids to go on very educational, very adventurous and very enthralling trips that always centred around a particular theme or topic or subject. And so rainforests it was – my first ever close encounter with something I had only read about in books and whose names I’d gobbled up only to spill out very efficiently in the many tests I’d written. However, here was a name I hadn’t heard of and here was an actual, live rainforest, very far removed from the confines of a page and its writer’s perceptions. This was a rainforest for me to experience, explore and learn about.

As it turned out, the experience was both agonizing and exhilarating for someone who had never been to one and for someone who was amidst people who seemed to have visited rainforests like they did their backyards. It was a class/classroom I still remember, a lesson whose teachings are engraved in my mind’s library for I can still feel my heart racing the moment I encountered what seemed like an endless hanging bridge over a gushing river that I had to cross and was the last one to (I’m not a fan of heights), I can still hear the rising crescendo of the Common Hawk Cuckoo’s song (or the brain-fever bird, as it is more commonly known) in which I found my lullaby, I can still recollect the stories my mind told me so I could ease into a more fearless sleep surrounded by an absolute blackness that resonated with scary sounds and rustles and creeks with just a jute mat in between me and its bare floor. I told myself that even forests have stories to tell and here’s a bedtime story you’ve got the privilege of listening to. That just had to work because there was no plan b; and it did. I remember coming back home a little less scared and a lot more thirsty to learn.

At the cost of sounding preachy, I do believe that straying from the path and the norm is something we do so less of and should indulge in a lot more. We turned out pretty okay, my brother and I (as did all the other kids who graduated from that school). We fit back into mainstream educational institutes with more ease than the general public feared we lacked. And whenever I look back, I never see textbooks, report cards or confined spaces; just trees, the sea, a full moon, lakes, fields and meadows, galloping horses and elated dolphins, mountains and skies, shooting stars and telescopes, sunrises and sunsets, art, that thirst and the satisfaction of quenching it, music, dance and drama, yoga and martial arts, travel and stillness, discipline and a depth of knowledge that needed no constraints and compulsions. That’s perhaps why I hated and still do hate the word ‘compulsory’ as much as I do. I think we passed the biggest test of education and schooling because we grew up with the burning desire to think, question and understand; a facet in us that is, and always will be forever present and at the forefront.

Thank you mom, for taking us on the road less travelled. We are so proud to be different.

Perception

26 Jun

I’d like to believe that I have the skills to put together a mean PowerPoint Presentation (ppt) complete with the looks and finesse a good ppt ought to have. I don’t go overboard with flashy lights and music popping from unforeseen slides, etc etc because I have a style and I like to keep it that way. And here’s what happens when someone sniffs the skills out – you become the family ppt maker. Especially now that my baby cousins are in the throes of understanding and learning about technology in schools that revel in the vast amounts of competition they inculcate, it becomes more than necessary to have a so called “ppt maker”. I’m not bragging because I’ve way more to learn. I’m just saying that when you’re even decent enough in your family, you get put on that pedestal. And even if my views on education and learning differ, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. And so I make ppts for my babies.

The point isn’t as much about being a ppt maker as much as it is about learning and relearning. Making presentations at work or for clients is one thing. Making ppts for kids is another. And I find that the most challenging. It’s been an insightful experience throughout. Where one could come up with a ppt within minutes because a client was drumming his fingers in wait for it, here it takes more than just that. The experience of it all actually made me come here and talk about it because it really isn’t easy to get back down to a child’s level, or a level that isn’t akin to your own cognitive levels. I don’t know if it involves unlearning as much as it involves accommodation of new perspectives. I’m not unlearning how to do a ppt or make a presentation/project. I’m accommodating new perspectives and perceptions to put a point of view across. And like I said, that has been most challenging.

I don’t know what a 12 year old thinks like. I’m far past that mark to go back and recognize how exactly a child of that age comprehends his/her world. And yes, I was 12 once upon a long, long, long time ago. But that doesn’t help. It really doesn’t. For one, times have changed and I think a 12 year old me would feel completely out of place with a 12 year old today. I mean, that’s just natural and it’s called a generational gap. But it’s interesting nevertheless to have yourself in such a situation because it’s not often that you get to shift levels of perception and thinking.

Having studied cognitive process and developmental psychology does help in that I know there are various levels which comprise numerous characteristics pertaining to each stage of growth. But like I said in my previous post, life isn’t and never was a text book because no matter how much you read, you’re always gonna be back on page one when you’re bam in the middle of life and trying to figure it out. I love it nonetheless. It challenges my mind in ways my mind hasn’t been challenged because I obviously do not need to think about how children think, feel and communicate just about yet. So the only hands on experience I’ve got with kids is making ppts. And I really do not know if what I do is what is required. Have I deconstructed knowledge and its presentation more than I should have or have I become too technical or have I done too much are questions I have. And perhaps always will because education today cares about the end result in marks and competition, not the processes that make us who we are and how those can be nurtured and bettered.

It’s interesting to step out of your zone and look around. The worldview’s drastically different. And that’s maybe why I make those ppts. And as we speak, I’m stuck on making an 8 slide ppt on the physical characteristics of our country. It’s easy-peasy, you might think. But try making one with pictures and diagrams and text and all the vast amounts of knowledge that’s out there in the great www. Just try silencing the million squeaky voices in your head that shout out to be heard – take this, take that, no leave this out, no this has to go in!!!! It’s cray! See, I’m resorting to newer terms of words and expressions as well. When the hell did crazy become cray or cray cray? Like did you sleep and miss the z? Or does z stop existing anymore? Oh wait, I’m sorry, I understand how difficult it must be to add just another teeny, tiny letter to a huginormous (I made that up right now!) word! Sigh.

No. I.do.not.feel.old.

I feel awesome that I still get to think and comprehend like a kid from term to term.

And I love crazy.

<Goes back to ideating for an 8 slide ppt.>