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I Teach So That Kids Question Things Instead Of Following A Fixed Set Of Rules

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By Kumari Shalini:

I often think about why I joined Teach For India. To bring change, connect with the kids, or just teach? When I use the word teach, I mean forcing students to read the syllabus and follow certain norms which one is expected to, as a kid. I would never want that, and it is probably the reason I switched from the corporate sector. I want kids to be empowered. Empowered enough to ask questions like, “Why is this happening?” and “Why should we follow this?” instead of simply following a fixed set of rules. I have always believed that having a purpose is very important for each one of us. To know the reason why we are doing something. Even if it is to just have fun or bring about an enormous change.

Currently, I am working at Teach For India. It is a learning experience for me, with 14 kids. When I first met the kids, I was overwhelmed to see their welcome. I also understood that they had some expectations. Their twinkling eyes and bright smiles conveyed a lot. Soon, I realised it would not just be teaching. We had a lot to do together. My  journey as a ‘didi’ started with these kids. The experience and journey have been awesome so far. I learn from them every day, and hope to make them learn something too.

As we slowly got to know each other, a process which is still in progress, I have realised that even kids are not looking for someone who would just teach. They have the zeal to learn things outside the syllabus as well. They want to learn a lot of things, but in an enjoyable manner. The curious children keep me alert at all times with their questions. I love it. I feel lucky that Teach For India gives each one us the chance to visit the houses of the kids when needed. It has helped me in finding out so many new things about the kids. Slowly, as I get to know the kids better, I have understood that they have tons of problems which are hidden by their innocent smiles. Their socio-economic background, the violence they face at home, and community at large and their hectic schedules make life hard for them. A kid named Tohid is very good at painting. Mahenoor and Zainab are very creative kids. Mushrifa loves to write. The list goes on and on.

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Each kid has a different story and personality. Some are extroverts, while others are shy. But all of them have big dreams. To support the dreams of 14 kids, I recently started a campaign called ‘Umang’. If we get enough support, we will be able to buy a TV for our class and Internet for the entire school. I feel these things are important as I believe that rote learning is something we should abolish from our education system. To make it happen, visual literacy is important as well. I want kids to watch things on the TV or computer rather than just hear and memorise from texts. Kids have lots of hope from ‘Umang’. They are looking forward to watching TV soon and learning things in a different manner. I hope I am  able to provide a little light for their big dreams to come true. I hope ‘Umang’ fulfils my big dream of supporting  the dreams of the kids.

I wrote this post to convey that every kid is special and they might need different teaching styles. Forcing them to learn something will never help them to grow. Yes, as adults it’s our responsibility to make them learn, not by imposing rules, but by giving them a reason to learn. We should help them from ideas and empower them, so they can raise their voices against injustice. We should also provide a safe space for them to dream big and make it come true.

If you wish to contribute anything to ‘Umang’, please click here.

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  1. iamaltf

    Developing questioning skills is one of the most important requirement for learning. Its very hard but worthwhile. Keep up the approach. All the best for your tenure with Teach India.

    1. Kumari Shalini

      True ☺Thanks. If possible contribut something to “Umang”. It’s Teach For India, Teach India is different 🙂

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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