My day job involves introducing my students to the quirks of the English language and helping them deal with those quirks. Given that English happens to be the second or even third language for almost...
Book excerpt from 'Drama Teens'.
It’s Teachers’ Day. But Barry John, the man famously known as Shah Rukh Khan’s acting guru, is not rejoicing. No celebrity student visits him on this day. Nor on Guru Purnima, a festival dedicated to spiritual and academic teachers. “Except Manoj Bajpayee,” he said, adding, “but he comes on my birthday, because we go back a long way. Manoj is like family to me.”
I was fresh out of grad school and intended to be a model teacher. I walked into the final year undergrad class, aware of some facts: I was to teach them refrigeration and air-conditioning; they wouldn't give me much credit in the beginning; the first few lectures would be spent in sizing me up.
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One of the most belittling comments about teachers, unfortunately with more than an iota of truth in it, was made by famous Irish polemicist George Bernard Shaw. To paraphrase: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.” In India, where education, from the primary to higher levels, is in shambles, with minuscule islands of excellence, a lot of people find great truth in Shaw's words. Yet, however criminal it may be for a teacher to be absent, vengeful, incompetent and callous, the buck actually does not stop at him or her alone.
When people, from strangers to neighbours, start to label young kids with terms like "hyperactive" or "slow" or as having "attention deficit disorder" it makes my blood boil. These traits may or may not apply, but why are people so quick to label kids, especially those who are not their own?
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I'm certain that your intent was to make a difference in the lives of children. But there is this one student, who you can't handle, who makes you uncomfortable, who creates a storm in your classroom. Secretly, you wish he wasn't in your class. You probably feel guilty about thinking these thoughts -- but you just can't deal with his odd and disruptive behaviours. I know how you feel.
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Even though I was adamant I'd never get into this profession, I joined a school as a faculty member after my daughter was born. I'm not ashamed to admit that it was less for the love of teaching and more for the love of the work hours--because that allowed me to spend more time with her.
It was when I started studying in a university abroad that I realised the full extent of damage done by my schooling. For instance, in my first year I could not turn in an English literature essay of substance. My university education became the beginning of my un-schooling. But how many of us have this opportunity to undergo this un-schooling? I did three years of BA, followed by a year of postgraduation studies, and I still feel the effects of this schooling on me. So what of others?
In Western literature and popular culture, pigs are everywhere--in proverbs, legends, children's stories, novels. They appear as images of disgust, and warnings against greed, but also as comical, naïve, scheming, ingenious--heroic, even. What is it that so fascinates us about these ungainly, muck-loving creatures?
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The most important skill that every teacher should teach is the difference between a fact and an opinion. That's half the battle won. If the student can do that then she/he takes the first step towards learning how to form an opinion. The second thing that teachers should focus on is instilling an understanding of how an informed opinion is one that is backed by facts.
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15-year-old Anuj Nirmal's interests range from writing his blog, building robots, and researching on how to create learning apps to studying human psychology and predicting how people would behave in...
Teach For India
My friend and I managed to get the permissions to teach for free in a Balwadi classroom in the railway complex. It was at this time that I saw an ad for the Teach For India Fellowship program. I remember thinking that if I was doing this in all of my spare time anyway, why not take it up full-time and work towards actually solving the education crisis at scale!
She is just 22 years old, but she has already traversed the challenges of being a teacher to 36 sixth graders from low-income communities, a friend to their parents and families and now a mentor to a group of Teach For India Fellows as their Program Manager. Angeline Dias, or "Angie" as she is lovingly called, reflects a depth of wisdom that belies her years, along with a tenacity to explore even the seemingly impossible.