Experience of my first field visit to school of Naujheel, Mathura …
As soon as i reached there in a small panoptical gaze building of the school, I abruptly entered in a dark classroom and saw a teacher holding the right wrist of a 4 to 5 year old (approximately) child and slapped him very forcefully so much so that he became red. The darkness of the room was not that dark but it was reiterated through the teacher-student relationship, where there was no love, care and empathy. The child seemed intimidated to the core. His sobs could be heard all along. I stood there at the back door of the classroom shocked, students were looking at me with mere amazement. They were curious as who I am and why I am here. I moved and held the little boy in my arms. His eyes were full with tears. Feeling of insecurity was floating on his face. Teacher was standing there shamefaced because of my presence, otherwise; he didn’t seem perturbed. Thought I was a passive observer, but got involved into the situation. I came out of the class with melancholy.
In that school, it is regular to see priggish teachers, snubbing students as to maintain vacuous discipline following as their chief responsibility. That time I didn’t know how much they contributed to children’s learning but they were good in policing. It seemed that they are basically impounding childhood as none of the student manifests activeness and zeal in school. Childhood is supposed to be the happiest stage of life; whereby, there is no in addition responsibility but here every child seems like a caged bird. There I found all faces withered. There i felt as somebody has put dusty cloths on a beautiful painting. What are schools for?? Who teachers are?? What learning is?? Is it all that what I felt?? These questions bogged up my mind.
I think, schools are to provide children a space to learn, to give them an environment where they can blossom and shine because learning is generated only in a very happy and open environment. And teachers are one who give shape to that learning. Their work is to give appropriate assistance in child’s learning process, to tap their curiosity, encourage and advance their own learning, cause knowledge is generated through individual’s own experiences and ideas and interaction between both.
It should be understood that every child is not an active participant and has different learning style and potential. If the child does not understand anything it’s not his/her fault every time. Teacher is not all knower, so in spite of judging them on their performance, teacher can use different pedagogy to make them learn.
During my childhood, mathematics was the subject I liked the most but always faced problem with tables, especially in memorizing them but was quite good at other parts of math. So for that offence, I was reprimanded by my math teacher, but neither I could memorize tables nor he could make me learn them. So it was not only me who failed but he also failed as a teacher (but nobody judged him cause he was a teacher). I was a bright student and tried really hard to perform well at my level but every time just got passed in that particular subject and so when I reached at secondary level, decided to quit math. There are two level of learning. One is the level of potential and another is level of performance. There is gap between two of them which is zone of proximal development (according to vygotsky) and a teacher should work on that gap. It’s not easy to identify child’s potential level until you share good bond with them. That needs a good relationship between teacher and student only then the gap could be filled. On the other side there was one of my teachers who taught us Sanskrit. Neither I liked that subject nor was I very good in that. But the Sanskrit teacher made special effort to help me relate to the subject which resulted in getting me interested and gradually my grades improved and she proved her teaching skills.
I am neither an academician nor much experienced in the field of education but one thing I know is, it is learner centric and we should associate them with joy, satisfaction and physical and mental security. When I look back, I can say that if my math teacher would have helped me I could have performed better as I did in another subject. Each student can learn. They just need their teacher’s support, motivation and compassion not their judgment – which creates fear and evasion.