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.
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.