Sunday, February 19, 2012

Going to school

'Shonaaaaa' they shout from the top of the hill. And Shona immediately runs up the hill to greet the students on their way to school. They run down together, I gather up the furry scamp near our house, and wave good bye to the others.

Till one day when the littlest girl of the lot nudged her brother. 'Well' she said, 'aren't you going to ask her?'
'Ask me what?'
'Will you tutor us? in English and Maths?'

Uh oh. Here we go again.

Only this time, it is even more challenging. Instead of just one little girl, I also have her two brothers to teach. Instead of just struggling to teach english to a hindi-speaker, I now have to teach maths- in Hindi. I opened one of their maths textbooks, and realised that there is no way I can do it. I cannot understand half the terms, and certainly cannot teach them.

They won't take no for an answer, though. 'In March', I promised. I am very nervous.

I am also humbled by the efforts these children take to get an education. I complained in the last post about the walk I need to take to the top of the hill facing ours for a strong internet connection, about the walk I need to do once or twice a week. These children go to that ridge, and then down to the other side every single day. And for what, I wonder.

What is this walk of 4 steep kilometers going to actually give them? Really, truly give them? A 10th standard certificate. And what is that? A stepping stone to a 'better life', where the better life means going away from the land they love, toiling throughout their lives and coming back as strangers. At the same time, I am the last person to say that literacy is not vital. Homeschooling is not an option where these children are first-generation learners. They clearly need to read, write, and calculate if they are not to be hoodwinked by everyone. But that is not all they need. They need to learn science, ethics, natural history. They need to learn how to use what they have learnt, to take science beyond the textbooks. And this the school does not teach them. Is it futile then, this walking to school? Is it necessary? Is there a better way?

I don't know. And next week onwards, these three come to me to fill some of the gaps in their learning. I am extremely nervous


Grumpy Granny said...

A walk to school can be an education in itself. You study the ways of water--that can be a huge lesson or series of lessons. The very environment they and you walk through every day can be a bigger and more effective school than you realize. Let Nature show you the way. You will be a fabulous teacher--you are already just by being there.



Unmana said...

Best of luck. I can't think of anyone better suited to the task!

Tara said...

You can teach them science and ethics and natural history, no?
You taught me water resource management and agriculture without ever even sitting me down in a classroom or giving me a scrap of reading.
I'm sure whether you schedule it in or not, they'll learn a lot about the world and how it works from you. Just be you :)

Govind Joshi said...

Do go ahead with what you have to do and He will take care of the rest .... :)