Happy to be a seed planter…
It is heartening to look back at the huge learning through the years of teaching across academic calendars and grades as an English language facilitator.
The English language has its own twists and idiosyncrasies and to make each class meaningful and interesting is sometimes an arduous task especially with a bunch of enthusiastic adolescents on the verge of deciding their dream career choices, in the senior secondary classes .It is known to all that all creative work cannot be a hands on activity -Some skills like book reviews need students wear their emotional caps on in appreciating the authors plot,sequencing and characters….!
Among the various activities that were introduced by the CBSE board,I enjoyed best, helping out the 11th graders in submitting a book review,a compulsory activity across disciplines. The exhaustive list included the ageless classics of foreign and Indian authors. Most students accepted the popular ones…Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Harper Lee,Khaled Hosseni to name a few…I had to bend rules and include Eric Sehgal’s Doctor ,among others to satisfy a few already determined to be doctors in my class. I’m proud to declare that with some help from me, I got out wonderful, mature reviews from the class
Must definitely put on record about some smart alecs of the class who chose titles like “The Boy In Striped Pyjamas”, “The Thousand Splendid Suns” and a few more such ones only because they thought they would read through some light hearted story but by the end of it were totally taken aback by the harsh realities of the holocaust or the evils of various social atrocities .The readers of George Orwell’s Animal Farm were surprised to understand the vices of humans through the unassuming animals in the farm of life. The young readers came up with bold opinions like they thought that Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights was depressing and upsetting while they could relate to the McMurphy’s attempt to fake insanity to escape prison labour and how he rises up against Ratched, the cruel nurse in the mental ward in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
The most satisfying thought was that year on year …my kiddos were really not so little when it came to understanding human values, relationships and empowering empathy. I reiterated to them that it was very important to be mindful of the changes that one needs to make at every stage of life to make the right connect with the world .The flights of imagination of the students was really magical and amazing and it was indeed a pleasure to be a part of their growing up years…making an attempt to equip them with the skills of looking up positively to the varied colours of the big,wide world!!
Geeta Venkatesh is a senior teacher with a rich experience spanning decades of guiding students. She is always supportive and mentors newbies with her insights. She is a member of the Educators’ Muse group on FB and frequently posts articles of interest.