Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Judgment Day

I must confess, much as I enjoy appreciating creativity and hard work, I passionately hate judging anything. So, it is with a heavy heart that I step into the exhibit room of the Science exhibition that I am invited to judge, to undertake the task at hand. The category that I am to judge is the teacher’s projects on Population education and continuing education. And after seeing the projects, the following questions still trouble me:

  • ·       How will “Increasing substance of women” help curb population?
  • ·    Likewise, apart from the really obvious reason, how will enforcing a joint family system help? Maybe people will get so stressed out that they will murder each other??
  • ·      Why is a game, where the only reward the child gets is a lecture from the teacher, called Fun and Learn??
  • ·      In a remote area, where there are no roads, no transport and no school, and no teacher can reach, how high speed Internet, and laptops be available for using Skype and Whiteboard?
  • ·      Likewise, how did showing a 10 min video recorded lecture, given to slum children actually increase the quality of their life?
  • ·      In Continuing education, why will adults happily “learn with fun”, using letter blocks and other kinder garden teaching aids? (It will awaken the child in them, was the answer given to my question.)
  • ·      Why are these leaders of the young harping on about controlling the population, while the whole world is terrified that God forbid, if India and China put their act together and train the vast multitudes, nobody can stop these countries that have the most valuable resource in the world, “Man Power”?

Just when my head started reeling, listening to lectures deliver with strong conviction on how bleak the world scenario is due to population, and when I am almost apologetic that I am living, and healthy, the following incident occurs.

When we are listening, to a very pretty young teacher, droning endlessly about literacy, reeling off statistics on the population of the various Indian states, my co judge asks,” And what is the role of the climate?” It takes a while for me to understand the point that he is making, which is that cold climate equals to less population. The young teacher stops midspeech, as if the Pause button is pressed, gives both of us a blank look. Swallows twice, looks at the ceiling, and the walls, and then magically, as if the Play button is now pressed, resumes her sermon on the literacy. I earnestly explain to her the gentleman’s question, and point out that if literacy is so imp. then why according to the statistics displayed by her, is Kerala still not low in terms of population, whereas Mizoram and Shillong are, which may have something to do with the climate. Again we get a blank look, I start wondering whether she has also practiced ‘the blank look’ along with rote memorizing rest of her presentation. She swallows twice this time and then gives up, and tries to show us a slide show, which has the same pictures that she has displayed on the first slide. Well, maybe it was a brilliant presentation, but we will never know as she keeps pressing F5 instead of moving to the next slide, and the ppt stalls at the 1st slide. Lacking the desire to help her, we move on.

We somehow get through the all the exhibit and escape from the film set school, safely.

As I head home, I cannot get the teachers out of my head, dogmatic, authoritarian, and totally closed to learning per se. They are the ones I loved to hate in school. And they dominate the system. How will our kids learn? How will they retain their creativity and the spark to be different and flexible? How will we use the vast reserves of our people power to become a world economy?

And while these thoughts flood my mind, I recall the bright faces of the students who assisted the teachers in these projects. I remember their quiet confidence as they perform for us, their strong voices, and excited eyes. I remember the kids mouthing silently the lines of the skit that the teacher is supposed to say and prompt her gently when she forgets. And I know, that no matter what, these kids will learn, in spite of their teachers and the system

And I remember, some of the teacher participants presenting, their creativity, logic, and strong conviction in their work. I see talent, perseverance, and the will to do their best, in spite of the system.

And, then I know. The future of India and the world, safe in the hands of these bright kids and sincere teachers, is truly Shining.

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