Friday, April 11, 2008

The Teacher Taught

- by Janaki Krishnan
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With more than three decades experience as a teacher, dealing with students ranging from ten to twenty years, I had developed a sense of pride in my teaching abilities. I thought I could teach or coach any student for an examination - all I needed was the prescribed text book, and a model question paper.
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But lately, my attempts at teaching my ten year old granddaughter her CBSE curriculum at home have taught me some new truths.
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I have come to realise this: teaching in an educational institution, and teaching at home have nothing in common! The theories in Child Psychology I learnt in B. Ed (I got a distinction) have been tried and found sorely lacking.

My successful teaching tricks - a serious tone, a stern face, and a cultivated reputation for strictness - have no place at home. The only things that really work with my granddaughter are saama - sweet words and negotiation, and daana - outright bribery! My chances of success are better if I approach the unwilling learner lovingly, make requests, promise rewards, and allow adjustments and suggestions in the study plan. It is also better for me to turn a blind eye to little time-wasting ploys - for example, lengthy visits to the toilet, forays to the fridge for sweets, or a chatty phone call to a friend.

But that's not all I've learned. Teaching my 10-year old granddaughter has also taught me that the old saying "One thing at a time and that done well" is not a universal truth. Kids these days do a lot more things than they used to: they juggle many activities and have a lot on their minds other than schoolwork. Today's children are smarter and more knowledgeable in many areas - it is the grandparents who are ignorant. Giving children space to grow and think in new ways may be the best gift a grandmother can give. To quote Kahlil Gibran:

Your children are not your children
They are sons and daughters of
life's longing for itself.
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You may give them love,
but not your thoughts,
for their thoughts dwell
in the house of tomorrow
which you cannot visit.

3 comments:

Ramya Satish said...

very nice pati, really liked it. the saying at the end was pretty nice. it made sense (aishu is tellin me "copycat")

Anu said...

I heard about your blog from my husband, Shankar from Barclays. Your blogs are absolutely fabulous! I am a tamil Brahmin, born in Delhi, brought up and living in Bombay, visiting Delhi and Chennai frequently. I relate to your blogs very well.... It was a great pleasure to read your posts....Keep it up!!!

Anuradha

http://anushankarn.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Among other things gibran also said, "Teach them to stand tall" which is not in any school or university curriculum.

Wish there was a class on
" common sense 101 " -

Shilpa from vermont

don't have a blog