As a teacher, I have a confession to make: I don’t teach every time. Kanchapur is the smallest school and as of now, I am the only teacher. I go there alone and alone I am with my students. My welcome to the school is GRAND! This is an everyday affair. Then the classes begin with such immense excitement. The first half of the school timing is very rigorous and I do not compromise for studies. But here… after the recess, the sloth in every child pops its head and I find myself in front of a disinterested crowd of 35 children. So I just leave them to be who they are: children. But they masterful manipulators - like all children! They poke each other and trouble the class, and create nuisance in the class with this one intention that is often voiced: “Sir… chutti de de” [Sir… give us a leave for the day!]. On one such day, when the deliberate trouble had reached its peak, I reached out to my bag and packed my stuff. I looked at them and told: “I am not coming for the next three days; I had enough. If you don’t want to study, don’t. Go ahead; take a three days chutti [leave]!” I wasn’t really angry or I wouldn’t say that I was rude. But in my mind, I was thinking: ‘Perhaps this might teach them to be diligent. They will know that they have upset me’. I wasn’t going to leave them; it was just a dramatic gesture to play on their emotions.
The next day, it so happened that I had to arrive late. I know, I know, I had said I wasn't coming, but I would never leave them. When I arrived, there was no welcome; not even a single child was there to see me. I walked straight to the shack which was our school. I thought I would keep my bag in the shack and go out to each one’s huts to call them to study. But when I neared our school shanty, I heard some sweet haranguing and voices. I was shocked as I entered the shack. I saw that the smaller children were sitting with their books and with each of them assigned a teacher a bigger child. Don’t take me lightly when I say this: the smaller children I am referring to are kids who would be like nursery kids and the bigger one would be kindergarten students. I was quite impressed! I smiled as I entered. There were shouts immediately. They didn’t notice the pride on my face. They began complaining about the little ones: “Sir, they are listening to us…They are so naughty … they are making too much noise…” and so on... I asked them: “So …how do you feel teaching? “ There was silence. They looked at each other as of to confirm each others feelings. It looked like all of them had the same answer. Then one child blurted: “We now understand how hard you work, Sir …”
It was a bad experiment turned good! Yet, what can I say? On that day, I just encouraged them to work harder. I told the bigger kids that they could help the smaller kids in their studies. Little did I realize
the impact that day had upon them. The children started coming on Saturdays and Sundays as well. Initially I did not believe it. But then on one Saturday I secretly went to our school shack and peeped into the school. There they were: all of them at their places teaching and learning! The school was full of children: only children as sweet as sugar! I was meant to be the antidote to their problem. But their sweetness only made me more effective. They have made me a better teacher.
Kanchanpur School is open every day for learning; Just that our JP teacher is absent on Saturdays and Sundays!
Written by Sonu with JP since 2016