Outside Looking In

‘Good morning ma’am…’

It was a melodious chorus of around 25 joyful kids who were sitting on mats in a small one room school that I was visiting – Swapaksh.

Most of them were wearing uniforms, had neatly combed hair and had an overall well groomed appearance. The other few, it became clear, were new.

‘How did you know?’ you might very well ask..

Well! From the helpful attitude of the other classmates and the extra patience and loving guidance of the teacher-volunteer.

They were doing ‘general introduction’ question answers that day like what is your name, where do you live etc. and whenever a kid stumbled, there was no sniggering from the fellow classmates. The teacher – and often other students -would sweetly and patiently correct and guide the kid before moving on.

It was apparent that the hardships of an underprivileged life has not yet taken its toll on the innocence and attitude of the kids.

This was not completely new to me. With past experience of teaching through NGOs at government schools, my previous myth about discipline, hygiene and aptitude level of these kids who have experienced nothing but hardships of life, was already busted. If anything, they are always more eager to learn and make use of whatever limited resources and opportunities they get.

Nevertheless, Swapaksh was a new experience in itself. In other schools, the kids are assessed as per their age and not their ability to be put in different classes. But here, there are a whole bunch of kids with different ages, different schooling backgrounds, different learning abilities, all sitting under a single roof.

Just like in a garden, each plant has its own different growing pace; all plants do not bud at the same time, neither the buds bloom into flowers all at the same day. Nature lets them grow at their pace into their beautiful form. So too were these kids, learning and helping each other to learn, growing together at their own pace.

Pleasantly surprised, I bid adieu, with each kid giving a high five and asking if I will come back again, I made my way back home.

All the way thinking…
Is it really worth my time? Will I be able to do it?

Next time, I got more involved with teaching the kids. And then I finally got answer to my questions.

When a kid finally understood a concept, it is a moment of joy ….a Eureka moment for both the kid and the teacher. That smile… that glow… that satisfaction… that delight… that I got to carry with me as my reward gave me the answer.

It’s the joy of learning. Nothing more, nothing less.

So finally, I was able to answer the kids’ question: “Will you be back?”

Yes! Definitely!