How we got our tea!

Varun: (At around 8.00 PM) Amma, I waan tea.. I want tea..

Me: Tea? Now? Ippo poi kutti pasanga yaaravadhu tea sapuduvaala? Will any child have tea at this hour?

Varun: (thinks for a full 5 seconds before saying): Naan auto driver sir. Enakku tea kudunga! Am an auto-driver sir. Can you get me a tea?

Dad: (Rotfl-ing): Adho, tea-shop ange irukku sir (and points at a corner near a door which usually transforms into the destination of our choice, like Mambalam, Beach, Mumbai, or even a road-side tea-stall).

Our man’s face does not betray the disappointment of not having got a real cuppa-chai.. but still goes with the chimerical hot-kadak-chai and even makes a similar payment of 5 rupees after fumbling in his jeans pocket in all earnestness for a few seconds before pulling out the change!

What a teacher is to a student

As a child, I used to love whacking a cane, tapping at a chair in front of me, talking to an imaginary ‘student-audience’. The teacher was a person with the most authority. And the teacher was always right no matter how wrong he/she was.

The student-teacher relationship seems to have evolved quite a bit over the years and there is a paradigm shift in the relationship between the ‘teacher’ and the ‘taught’. Have been attending the observation sessions in Vyas’s school for the last few years. And for now, am happy with what am seeing.

I had planned to stay for the first two periods of the session and ended up staying till the last period. Soon after the 1st period, Vyas turned around and raised a finger threateningly and said I must stay through the day! The day started with the teacher making a few children do some math on the board. The children enjoyed this. This was followed some mental maths, quiz, pretend-play, craft, language, and Indian music with 2 breaks in between for the children to ‘snack’ and for lunch. The kids declared more breaks for themselves with requests and questions like this:

1.”Maam, I would like to use the toilet “,
2.”Maam, can I have some water”,
3.”Maam, I would like to sharpen my pencil”
4. “Maam, my eraser/pencil is missing”
5. “Maam, I don’t understand. Please repeat”
6. “Maam, I have a doubt”

And guess what? The last one was the most frequently used excuse. And the word most uttered in the class was ‘Maam’! So, when the teacher showed a slide with some black-bird laying its eggs in a crow’s nest, the children in no time guessed it was a cuckoo. But, one little elf out there raised a hand and spoke thus: “Maam, I have a doubt. Will the children cuckoos never know the mother cuckoo?”. LOL! Do any of you know?

The teacher made the session interesting by putting the kids in 4 groups and assigning points to the team for the right answers. It worked like this: A team gets 5 points for a right answer. The question can be passed if a child does not know the answer, but they lose a point for every pass. And if anyone answers out of turn, prompts answers, yells, leaves the seats or misbehaves, the team again loses one more point.

I have a feeling that the kids have been watching too many reality shows on the TV. When a child was trying to figure out an answer for a question, the others kids around her in the team were getting restless and I could see a few holding their fists in a tight roll, some hands clasped, trying to send up a silent prayer etc! And when the question passed, there was a bang on the table by a disappointed team-mate. One point lost! And when the teacher marked another ‘-1’ because someone in the group violated the ‘behavior’ rule, a child was in tears. And surely enough, the friends next to him were empathetic and called for the teacher’s
attention. When the teacher was told that the lost point was the reason, the teacher simply said “OK” and proceeded! She obviously knew her wards in and out:-) and she must be a witness to this drama everyday! However, the points system worked and kept every child focused!

Pretend-play is a hit with the kids and the adults alike. The children were asked to visualize a jungle and each of them must act like an animal of their choice. The animals were to attend a party in the jungle because there was a coronation of a new lion as the king! And each of these animals must take some food along to the party! Each child should pretend to be that animal and must give obvious clues like the animal sound, gait etc so the others can guess. So my fellow was a tiger, carrying a dead hyena as food! eeks!! There was a cute bulbul and a couple of peacocks that carried worms. A cheetah came leaping and hurt his knee in the process. He claimed that he came hunting for a deer to carry to the party, but was not taking anything as he had an injured knee!! Some smart thinking:-) Quite a few cats carried fish and milk and a dog carried plenty of bones..

It was a feast not only in the jungle, but in the class too! And my resolve to never venture into ‘teaching’ has found new strength. Parenting is cooler:-)

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