Archive for July, 2019

We can bring about a change …..Let us give a voice to their dreams!!

July 25th, 2019 -- Posted in General | No Comments »

It has indeed been an overwhelming journey and a continuous reminder of how a little spark can change the lives of many. Each of us may remember a teacher who opened a closed door within our minds. Refreshment accompanies such moments—insight for the student and satisfaction for the teacher who “leads out” the student. The magical quality that briefly surfaces in these exchanges is at the heart of the teacher’s work.

To keep improving how we teach, we must give more attention to the interplay between the science of teaching—pedagogy—and the art of teaching, which deals with the unique way a teacher transforms students to reach their potential. A teacher must be anchored in pedagogy and blend imagination, creativity, and inspiration into the teaching and learning process to ignite a passion for learning in students.

Moreover, we must recognize and reward teachers who endeavor daily to create classrooms in which students succeed academically and become inspired to take responsibility for their own learning. The best reward we can give teachers is to ensure that they have the best possible working conditions for teaching, which includes a strong support system—especially for those new to the profession.

All a teacher needs at whatever level is for someone to ignite a  fire in them, respect them, empower them and they will put forth all their energies in bringing about a change ..a change much needed , a change that will help each child to blossom, a change that will help each child to know his true potential and thus leading him to be an enlightened human being .


I visited at least 30 Balwadis in Mumbai and was touched by the love the children and the teachers shared. The classes were filled with a cacophony of voices; dozens of children were sitting on the floor. The walls were peeling badly and the room was clearly not enough to swing a cat. Monday morning’s first sunrays were peeking through the window, lightening up the confined space. As soon as I stepped inside, I was greeted with vivacious warmth and a sweet ‘Namaste Madamji’, followed by broad smiles and twinkling eyes. That enthusiastic lot had opened the floodgates of happiness hormone in me. Then and there I knew that we were embarking on a new journey; a journey of self-discovery. 

After working for so long in the private schools this sure came as an eye opener for me and what excited me was that the teachers were willing to learn, they want new ideas and strategies to manage the multi age classroom, they want to create a space where they can showcase their learning’s and their love for children was so very evident

‘What are you learning? ‘ I asked , ‘ We are learning about money’ children spoke with excited voices and one by one each one of them rattled ‘ This is Rs 100, Rs 1000, Rs 2000’ on their picture books and fight ensued between them as to which one was Rs 500. I asked them ‘What do you do with money ?’ the three year olds with excitement said ‘ To buy ice cream, toys, food’ , then with a low voice I asked ‘ Where do you get the money ? ’ and waited for their answers with abated breath. Promptly they started replying , ‘ By cleaning people’s homes’ , ‘ By moving bricks from one site to another’ , ‘By ironing clothes’ etc etc and all they could think of was menial jobs where they can get money . And on being asked ‘What do you want to be when you grow up ‘ …they were clear in their dreams …right from being a Doctor to a policeman to a Prime minister of the country . This happened in a small Balwadi located in Gore gaon Mumbai.

Learning through fun-filled activities /Villages are backward/the people are uneducated and orthodox. These are some of the conceptions we are bumbling along with. But what I saw was starkly different. We introduced simple English sentences to the children and when we visited next each child was trying to introduce themselves with ‘ I am …’, ‘My name is ….’ they uttered these words thinking about which word was supposed to come next. Urmila, a bright little student, sitting in the front row prompted the word “is” The whole class watched her in rapt attention as she completed the sentence by saying “is Pravin”.He heaved a triumphant sigh of relief, went back to his place with a huge grin plastered over his face but the feeling of triumph was writ all over the teachers face because the first thing they had shared was,’Humko English main Bolna seekha do’

These children are extremely talented but what stands as a major obstacle in their path is lack of resources and the poor quality of education that is delivered, Of what I had learnt in the past few days after visiting a couple of centres, it was quite apparent that the method of teaching that was being used was procedural or rather rote-based.. The teaching methodologies stand obsolete and outdated.

One is also amazed at the location of some of the Balwadis like the one we visited located in the middle of a jungle and the path was onerous. I kept on wondering the entire time, how can children manage to come here on daily basis.. It was during one of my visits that I came across the actuality of the situation or rather the dark underbelly lying beneath it all. Monica was trying to comfort her baby brother Piyush, a two-old kid who was moaning endlessly. She gently held his hand, made him sit on her laps and cupped his face. Holding him with one hand, she took the bowl of Khichdi in the other hand and tried to feed him.10-year-old Monica had to drop out from school in order to take care of Piyush. Her parents are both agricultural laborers. As they work in the fields for the entire day, the only option that seemed feasible was, Monica be removed from school so that she can take care of not only her baby brother but also all the household chores.

I knew that it is paramount that we teach children to think beyond their immediate horizons and have a ‘warrior-like’ attitude, inspiring and empowering them not to waiver in their faith. In varied and creative ways we must communicate that they can dream and that their dreams can come true. From a young age we can instill in them the faith and positive approach so that they need to pursue their own dreams and develop the friendships that will enable them to inspire others to fulfil theirs.

The question which kept bothering me was how we can help these little kids to think beyond, become what they are and we knew the true answer lies in educating them. They have dreams and they need wings to be able to fly and the wings can come through education which will help them in knowing and discovering themselves.

While we all talk about the leaders of the world in various fields, be in an astronaut, an engineer, a doctor, a politician, a journalist, we forget that the contribution made by these leaders and game-changers, is in turn pouring out of all the hard work put in by the teachers who moulded them into what they become post completion of their education!

I planned to have a student led conference at around 10 Balwadis; the idea was to do something different where the children will be encouraged to share their learning with their parents themselves. Challenge was shared by teachers that most of the parents are daily wage workers and will not be able to come .But my thought was different as I know with my years of experience all parents are same, all are crazy about their kids , all want their kids to excel , all will come if it is the children who are talking and not the teacher . Any new idea will always meets with resistance and doubts start appearing , ‘ How can 3 year olds talk to their parents?’ , ‘ Our parents are different Ma’am’ ‘ Our parents are not interested in such things’ ‘ Ma’am yeh nahi ho payega’ …But with me the problem is the more I hear ‘NO’ the more determined I get to ensure that things happen. And to further it my team was energised to take it forward.

We started with a reflection activity encouraging the Balwadi teachers to think beyond the classroom which helped them to explore other teaching styles and also motivated them to pursue their own creative teaching styles . This encouraged them and we conducted a training on what is a ‘Student led conference’ and how it can be held. The gleam in their eyes was enough to tell me that I had sparked that fire and now they needed no help and encouraged them to add their own colours to the same. The challenge we gave them was they will not prepare the child but just encourage each child to take his or her parents around the room and showcase their work, and let a child speak on their own.

The student led conference was a super duper success and with teachers continuously what sapping after the event ,’Ma’am maza aa gaya’, ‘Ma’am mere bachho ne kamal kar diya’ , ‘ Ma’am mere parents itne khush the’ , ‘Ma’am mere saare parents aaye pehli baar’  etc etc and the phone was flooded with the pictures of the event.

When a dream becomes a reality all it does is brings tears of joy! And hats off to these Teachers who made it possible .

The future of rural India is bright as the sunshine on the sea. What we need to take into primary consideration is that children are nation’s most precious asset. And the future of the nation depends on the quality of its human resources

  • Shalini Nambiar,

     Shalini Nambiar