So please excuse my writers block over the past couple of days.
With the issues of lockdown keeping most of the educational institutions shut, I got to see my mother teach a bunch of kids on the Cisco Webx portal. It got me to ponder about my own childhood and how approachable were my parents and teachers when it came to certain issues with school. I had a long conversation today with someone about how important it is for parents to be approachable to their kids for things like studies and even extra-curricular things. These thoughts made me realise that my true passion or calling lies in becoming a middle school teacher. Especially for the standards between the 3rd Grade and the 7th. It’s ironic that I am saying this, especially because my basics were extremely poor in school. How poor you’d ask? Here is a nice self deprecating list that could help bring a laugh or two.
- You will definitely not believe this but I did not know the word Arithmetic till my 6th grade. I found a book of formula that my grandpa gave me, which apparently belonged to my sister, which had a big white text on the cover, saying ‘Come Let’s Learn Basic Arithmetic’. I eventually assumed that it was a smarter way of just saying mathematics. I was today years old to learn that mathematics has the hard stuff whereas Arithmetic is the simple stuff of addition, subtraction and etc.
- My understanding of decimals and fractions were so bad till my seventh grade that I did not know that 0.5 and 1/2 were the same.
- I did not know how many apples were there in a dozen. ( A question that came in my third standard math half yearly exam in which I scored 31 out of 100, the first failure of my life).
- I did LCM and HCF without understanding why and what they meant. The correct answer and procedure were all I cared about.
- The concepts of Valency and basic chemistry were beyond my understanding because the CBSE books were horrible and I did not get to avail tuitions like the rest of my peers and had horrible teachers in school to ask again. I still don’t understand why I did not ask a classmate. I guess it was stupid now that I think about it.
I was damn good at the other stuff. Good to the point where I think I topped the Social Studies and English. English was just pure love of reading the stories cover to cover.
So what will set me apart to be an exceptional teacher? I think it’s the fact that I sucked at these basics so badly. I’d be damn good at identifying the lacunas of every kid. I’d know exactly what would be running through the mind of the stupidest kid in class, because I myself wore the dunce cap for the longest time at these particular subjects. Even if I’d fail to teach, I would be so approachable to my students that they’d still come to me for the 100th time and have the ability to tell me the truth that they didn’t get the xyz I taught and would try to learn it elsewhere.
We as students have had two types of favourite teachers. The first kind were those who gave us a lot of free periods and strike deep conversations, asking us about our lives, where we came from and tell us a little bit about themselves and their experiences. These teachers would help us forget about the agenda of the day and the crappy school routine once in a while and let us be a part of their personal spaces while simultaneously allowing the non-interested ones do their own thing at the last benches which could include napping, talking or playing the semi-finals of a pen fight tournament. They were usually the kind who taught the ignored aspects of school such as SUPW (some shitty full-form), Environmental studies and Computers (sometimes). Being an Army Brat, I studied in a bunch of schools, so have had a plethora of experiences with the CBSE zoo.
Then the second kind. The teachers who taught us subjects with such diligence and promise, yet did NOT EMPHASISE on checking our home assignments, which in all probability, were rarely given. They did not believe in the idea of punishment, however, had their own unique way of getting the job done from their students. Their idea of teaching was to get our minds to assume that we wanted to do it ourselves, making it almost impossible to ignore them. These kind of teachers usually end up being our English or Social studies teachers in school and if some kids are lucky, then Math. Why? Because most teachers who join schools to teach the heavy duty subjects of Math and Sciences ( Physics, Chemistry & Biology) are usually overqualified to be teaching a bunch of 13 year old hormonal dimwits. This is prevalent in most Indian Schools. Their minds would be saturated with years of expertise, thus preventing them to estimate the average stupidity ratio depths of a kid in class. This results in the class being divided into smart kids who get it (because they’ve already studied it in some local IIT foundation class), students coming in top 10 who will eventually get it ( they will ask their local tuition teacher or parent that day, or the smarter kid), the AVERAGE NORMAL KID (who wouldn’t be a part of the first two kinds, and would try to re-read the stuff to get it themselves), to the dumb, disinterested kinds ( who would just be busy with new internet porn and expensive pampered parenting gifts).
I think I would strike a fantastic balance between the conversation making teacher, to the kind that would explain the concepts with utmost creativity thus helping the major chunk of students grow. Being creative is extremely important. I loathed the kind of teachers who would have students scrambling the whole day copying someone else’s assignment, just to escape punishments and not have the basics understood. This kills the morale and motivation to learn, often wasting the interest of students to pursue what could probably turn into a passion.
Now I am no qualified Academician, but I feel like I have the powers to shape a middle school curriculum better than whoever is running it now.
There are so many ideas, yet no platforms to express.