Day 135: Wrapping up the year

Teaching Sharing

The last working day of the year ended in style: I got to teach a two-hour lecture and wrap up the session. There was a slight pressure when I found out that ChaCha, SrA and the SoulSurfer would be sitting in too. But most of those become trivial when you start teaching. It was more fun because I got to teach some technology, stuff from the life of 10 years. It reminded me again about how important it is to be content-strong. A few quick learnings from the session:

  • It’s always important to relate to the class and set up a tone of comfort before you get into teaching
  • There will always be those that are disinterested; forcing them to participate won’t help anybody
  • The front-benchers are your best friends – keep them happy
  • It’s always nice to know the names of the class
  • Some teachers make every topic/lesson boring, purely by bringing in exercises, evaluation and assessments into the picture – don’t be that person.

Overall, it was a good way to end the session before we broke for the semester. 

Mado turns a year older

Mado’s big day started my kinda way – with some authentic breakfast at MTR. It was fun to know that I had introduced all three to the beauty of some quality adult time. The food was amazing as always, the ride up was fun too, and the conversation was passable.

I had a strange old-woman moment, when I had the birthday cake sitting at home, in the fridge, and completely forgot to bring it along. In the end, things work out for the best, since MTR would have been a weird location to cut a cake. I was all the more confident of that decision when we eventually cut the cake at home in the evening – very sloppy, tasteless cake. Strange!

Sorries

ChaCha and I were chatting up after Mados little birthday party and we noticed how these boys were all too quick to pull out the white flags and say their sorry. Did it mean that they really understood the point and realized their folly, or did they just want to end the discussion, results nonetheless?

I understand the reasoning might just be to pick your battles, and lose a few fights to win the larger battle. But is that what all relationships end up being – a series of compromises? And if you were the one bringing out the white flag every single instance, would it become more difficult with each passing instance? And what if I fought every fight like it were the battle? Wouldn’t that be tasking, a huge strain on the relationship itself?

Pics4mswiss: looking over the red thatched roofs of Old City Bern

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Day 125: Valley and Flights 

Valley

A week and a half in the Valley School, and my mind was more rejuvenated than a long time. I had walked in with a conflicted heart and a dark cloud hanging over my head. But I also had an open mind and that brought in such experiences with it, that I was changed.

  • The most important standout from the experience was how interested people were in sharing their life. There was a willingness to open up and let another in, something that is becoming very difficult to find in the modern world. They wanted you to live their life, walk their path and see how life was.
  • The second highlight was the quality of conversation. Not once did anyone ask my why I hadn’t married yet, why I chose a career I didn’t like or who my newest boyfriend was. They knew that they all lived in glasshouses and any judgment sent out would return their way eventually. Instead, they spent their times talking about the life, the universe, meaning to life and things that mattered.
  • They were content in their lives and unmoved by the trivialities that come with modern affiliations. They did not have the newest fancy smart phone and so they did not spend their together-times staring into each other’s phones or wondering why the wifi speed was so poor. Something bigger mattered and they knew.
  • The relationship that the students shared with their teachers was inspirational. They called them uncles and aunts, hugged them around in class, and openly spoke to them about period pains and worries. There was a stark absence of fear for the role of the teacher. And teachers walked with a mindset that they were co-learners too. This made them awfully powerful, with a direct connect to young minds.
  • “Are you trying to kill us, uncle vipul? “, yelled a 6year old, as Vipul opened his laptop in class. Technology was a necessity and nothing more. It did not take up such a dominant part of their lives that they forgot to smell the rain, hear the birds, or be sensitive to each other.
  • A study center discussion that explored the difference between the mind and the brain sent me on an unknown path, one where I had no footing. I still felt comfortable enough to try out the discussions and I was stunned. Mind is what thinks not merely based on facts in front of us, but based on all past experiences, heartbreaks and successes. So, it automatically becomes a source for conflict. If we could think, but without all those added baggage, then imagine how powerful our brain would really be.
  • Another intriguing conversation was with Saqhib, where he shook my foundation about alternative schooling. By calling yourself alternative, you are automatically boxing yourself into a system, simply by trying to opposing to the mainstream. That invariably means there’s very little you can do differently, because you have a level of comparison in the form of another schooling system. What we should truly try is to be different in all forms, not bound by norms.
  • The highlight of the whole time was how ready the whole school, from the principal to every other teacher was, in inviting me to join their team. Very rarely do we see a case where an institute invites you to join in, only to learn from them, and contribute back. No resumes, no portfolios, no past experiences. Just an open mind.

Overall, I came back positive, both mentally and emotionally, ready to take on the next semester head on.

Flights

The flight out to Switzerland, the multipart journey, started off with a rocky start. Met H and HMan at the airport and the fissures were very evident. It is scary to think of how much one would change by simply being in close proximity with another all their life. We seek relationships to comfort us in times of need and despair. But what if those relationships are the reason for the despair?

The trip from Bangalore to Amsterdam to Geneva was hilarious, with the kids trailing around, completely distracted by the glitz and whatnot. It was kind of all too powerful, knowing the ways of traveling, especially international, while the others struggled reading boards and signs. I was constantly conflicted between helping them out and letting them be. I wouldn’t have enjoyed being told every step of the way. I see myself as the teacher that would let someone try for their own before I step in.

And so, I sat around and played the silent observer.

The flight in to Amsterdam brought a strange new companion to chat along. Punjabi was a good person to talk to, knowing when to not push it and when to bring in his views. We had a good talk about road tripping to Ladakh, about the power and the need to go on solo trips, and about Engineers becoming Management consultants. For a Punjabi living in Bangalore, he seemed aware of the differences in cultures and was filled with the desire to try life out.

For all the writing I wanted to do on the plane, it was a rested time, where I managed to get sufficient sleep. It also reinforced my principle that being nice brings it back to you. The airhostess was awfully nice, bringing me refills even when I didn’t ask for it. Punjabi enjoyed the benefits of my niceness too. The warmness felt evident when he invited me over to walk along to our next stop as well.

Pics4mSwiss: When you have a fond heart, hearts smile back at you from the sky. 

Day 25: Of misunderstandings and not learning 

The day started with a huge brawl with the class teacher. A series of misunderstandings led to the argument and she eventually commented, ‘You don’t have to teach me right from wrong. I’m not here to learn from you!’. Stern words coming from a teacher.

It got me thinking, do we ever stop learning. Every time I go to the Special school, I learn something new. And those kids are not even average intelligence. So, when do we become so arrogant in our intelligence that we refuse to learn from others. I have been wrong to judge people in the past and am learning, very slowly nonetheless, to accept my mistakes. But in this case, I am confident that the teacher was in the wrong. And yet, her role as the teacher, and mine as the student, automatically shut her doors to correction.

As teachers, shouldn’t we be open to be lifelong learners? If we are in the profession of teaching, shouldn’t we be learning something every day? The milk man, the street vendor, the local urchin all have some valuable to teach us. Should we be so haughty as to shut our ears and minds to what they have to say?

May have just been a bad day at home, S. And the most obvious thing would have been to shove her monkey onto your back. 

Just tell her to bake something and add an extra dash of chocolate. Always works, I hear!” Scotch