Friday, September 5, 2014

The Learner!

I started my teaching career in’91 and have taught in quite a few schools during this course of time. What I have learnt is that children are mostly the same everywhere.They usually fall into certain personality types. There are the bullies, the attention seekers, the wall-flowers, KTPs, the athletes, the monitors, the funny ones and the out for fun ones. There may be more types but it’s almost uncanny how similar children can be in personality no matter where they belong. In every place that I worked in, whether in Guwahati, Delhi, Ludhiana, Mumbai  or here in Nagpur, the school managements differ, the teachers are diverse in personality, but the children they were always the same. Here are some classic examples.

The ones which all teachers dread is the bully of the class. The bullies in the class have massive attitudes. They rarely pay attention to the teacher’s teaching. They never have their books and stationery. They will argue and test the teacher’s patience. They have an air of "I don’t give a damn, what can you do about it" Most of the time they go about rubbing people the wrong way. Children fear them and keep their distances. Some silently look up to them, hence their fan following.

Then there is the attention seekers.They flock around you. They want your love and attention. They will volunteer to help you, raise their hands to speak every time (even when they may not know the answer!) they border on hero-worshiping you. They want to know about you and want you to know about their lives. They may lack in confidence but not in their sweet smiles.

The wallflowers are the shy introverts of the class. They never speak, volunteer or have anything to contribute to any discussion. They keep to themselves and mostly mind their own business. They will sit silently during your class and avoid looking at you. In fact most days you may not even notice they are there. They usually have very few friends. Any attempt to draw them into a conversation and you get mono-syllables as reply!

KTP a term I coin to club the keen Type Performers of every class. They are excellent in academics.  They are the Toppers of the class. Their general knowledge on current affairs is outstanding. They will usually be monitors and prefects. They participate in all the extra-curricular activities. Teachers dole out praises for their talents and skills. Sometimes however, the praises get into their heads; they develop an air of superiority that borderline in rude behavior. Yet most of them are modest, well behaved, disciplined and very hard working. Teachers love them and every teacher-parent wishes for this perfect KTP child.

And the fun-loving children of the class. They are always looking for some ‘masti’! They will do anything for some light moments of humor. They get brilliant, innovative ideas of doing mischief. Very prompt at saying sorry but rarely learning lessons from their mistakes. They always find the class room a dull and boring place and they love the recess period. They have a pack of friends always hanging on to their every word.

These are just a few types of children I come across in every school that I have taught in. Children are all good at heart. Though they lack in the years of experience they are basically smart and aware of things. Adults just need to talk to them, show them what’s right and wrong. Discipline them by example, because they hate to be condemned. Leave them alone to find their own path. Today on Teacher’s Day I salute all my colleagues for guiding the children to be good humans.

The school is a miniature world. There are all sorts of personalities here that add color to life and make it the perfect place of learning. And I am a learner here.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Two Nations!

 One day after dinner Tomoko and I both went to put the trash out. Tomoko Hasegawa and I were neighbors in Durham University’s hostel apartments in the U.K. She was from Japan, living with her husband and son and we were good friends.

The covered trash cans were kept outside the apartment block in a fenced area. Somebody had left their garbage bags outside the bins. It had been a very windy day and the thrash was strewn all over the place. Tomoko looked very disturbed at this sight. She immediately got down to picking up the garbage and collecting them in a black polythene bag. I just stood there transfixed at this sight! Picking up someone else’s refuse was unthinkable for me!

   Kiyomi, another Japanese friend of mine always sorts out her garbage, rinsing out empty bottles and cans before throwing them into the recycle bin.

  Japanese children are always courteous and respectful.

Today when I watch the news of our Prime-minister visiting Japan, I remember these incidents with my Japanese friends.

Japan is JAPAN because of its people, their hard work and commitment towards their nation. A country totally destroyed and ruined at the end of Second World War again found place within the top economic and technological powers of the world.
Japanese people are disciplined and hard working. They have created the third largest economy in the world. Their Infrastructure is designed to support the people living there. The modern Japan is a product of the  commitment of the people to their duties. 

They are ready to sacrifice their rights to fulfill their duties towards the society and the country. People are taught to be responsible for their own actions. They are taught to value time.

 We Indians have a lot to learn from the Japanese. For one, we definitely need to be more disciplined. Our “ chalta hai”attitude about everything, our total lack of civic sense and our almost nonexistent sense of responsibility specially towards public property is evident in the red pan stains on the roads and public buildings.

     Converting every street corner into a garbage dump or a public urinal!           

    People jaywalking where ever they fancy!

 No amount of Infrastructure can remedy a nation. It’s the mindset that needs to be changed. We need a revolution, a radical movement to educate Indians. We need to be more aware of our duties and obligations towards our country.

To convert India into Japan, Indians have to be  more responsible towards their civic duties .You may clean the Ganges but if mindsets are not changed it won’t remain clean. You create infrastructure it will be misused. 


 Last year I read this shocking news in a Mumbai paper. Here is the link-

 The Indian Railways had built A.C dormitories for overnight passengers at their CST station.The railways took due care to provide expensive lighting, taps and mattresses. Within a week vandals had slashed the mattresses, stolen the taps, shower heads and bulbs! A furious Railway officer is quoted to have said,” Those who complain that the railways abroad provide much better facilities should also note that people there take care of public property ”.
How true! We get the country we deserve! To create a city like Kyoto in India we need to be disciplined, responsible and hardworking. But Most of all we need to perform our civic duties just like the Japanese.