Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Notes End of November

Something does not seem right. I have divided kids into groups and yet I am not able to keep up with the pace of each group, each child and each style. Can an individual teach like this? I wished to optimize and I still wish to.  As soon as I start writing this, I want to leave this and go and draft worksheets addressing different audiences. There is so much turbulence in this job. I think it is there in every job but it depends on how many responsibilities one is ready to take.

 Few kids don’t make noise. I sometimes don’t see them what they have learnt. At the end of the day, I see their faces and still don’t know whether they got what I taught.  I wish to spend more time with each individual child, see her growing in her studies, in learning from one objective to combination of objectives. I want to open the brain of each child and know how they are assimilating information I post to them and where do they keep it – in their permanent or temporary memory?

I see their books and hope that all students find them as easy as I and that they are able to do it as quickly as I can do. But I am not at their level, I still don’t completely understand challenges their brain gives to them. I don’t recall much about my own second standard but I hope that these kids remember each objective I taught them, that I don’t have to revise this often. Their silly mistakes screw up my data. I know a kid knows the answer but she is not writing it down. Why not? I send this questions in empty classrooms of afternoon.

I imagine classrooms I saw during trainings and visualize how much possibilities exist of achieving in first year. And then think about my class which got painted before Diwali but still hadn’t all charts on the walls. I try to prioritize but all variables are not in my hands. I cannot control few things. Two Pillars of planning and executing are not matching. I am planning something else and reaching somewhere else.  Dynamics are not dependent on me. In my previous job, I would fix the bug and see the output, try, retry but still would see the errors. But I always knew where I needed to put the band-aid. But here, water flows from all directions. It blinds me so much that I can’t figure out where is the leak. Dynamics are more intense. I don’t have all available pointers.

I wish to replan and think again about execution. I wish to make best use of my time and of the kids.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


While writing my business school applications last year, I came across this question so many times “Have you ever faced an ethical dilemma?” And I have faced one in truest sense recently. I have enrolled kids in my classroom for NSTSE exam to be held on 4th December. I kept it open for all kids in my classroom and told parents that I will try to be as helpful as possible but please do not expect results in this first year and pay only if it is not a burden on you. 23 Parents enrolled their kids by paying Rs 200/-. When the material finally arrived for preparation; I realized that only few kids in my class have real shot at it. I had a choice to make – choose those few students, increased their chances or instead take all the kids along who have enrolled. I have taken the middle path. While I am creating scaffolded worksheets for all students who are participating but I am giving individual attention to only 15 students out of 23 who enrolled, taking their extra classes and finding out what objectives they have not yet mastered.

 I wanted other 8 kids to earn that attention from me – to know that Didi will choose them only if they are committed. Today, mother of the naughtiest child of my class came to meet me in middle of school hours. She couldn’t meet me during my community visit. She never showed in two of previous parent-teachers meetings. She even sent the money through someone else. She never showed after repeated mentions in Diary. She never showed up when her child beat the other child in the class while I stepped out for administrative work . But she showed up today because she wanted to know when her neighbor’s daughter has been enrolled in extra classes for NSTSE preparation, why is not her son? I gave her my reason but wrapped up the discussion quickly to get back to my class. I asked her to call me after school gets over. She called before I expected but at that time I was taking an extra class. She called after an hour again with a simple request “Please retain my son for extra classes. I will make sure he studies”.

Bull’s eye! I thought and said “Why not!” I was glad that it vindicated my decision of choosing to teach the chosen few and making others serious about it by that choice. I hope I didn’t let down one value of my class . “ACT RIGHT!”. What do you say?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Viva La Vida

Smile from a distance to someone you know. Face of someone sleeping. Sun rays on your face as you turn towards East in morning. New parents’ exchanging looks. An old couple walking together. Grandmother’s voice. A sweet tiredness after a sweaty run. Laughter of a child. Food you cooked well. Choosing a career instead of other way round. 
A beautiful life!

Solving a question you didn’t think you had an answer. Reading a book that brings you closer to yourself.  Finding a failure. Walking again into it next day anyway. Eventually finding answer of why you failed.
Reaching life!

A failed relationship. A dysfunctional family.  A loving partner. An understanding family. Happiness. Emptiness. Festival. An uncomplaining friend. Sorrow. Illness. Responsibility. Misunderstanding. A caring sibling. A wrong decision. A deserved appreciation. An unexpected opportunity. Out of control situations. Unsaid words. Waiting for second chances.
Ambiguous Life!

Viva La Vida!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

So you want to be a social worker?

Who is a social worker? One of the simplest definition that one can hear is “Someone who serves the society.” But let us just question this definition. Why society needs to be served? Is it poor? Is it incapable? Does it have lesser than us? 
Or do you think society is being exploited and a social worker is that “benevolent” species who helps the society to fight that exploitation because he is in love with humanity?
Or a social worker is that “selfish” species who wants to have an ego satisfaction of being benevolent and want to have that pride of “I work for the needy”?
Or you may say “powerful can escape the crime they have done on the powerless” and a social worker is the one who fights for powerless?
Not long from now, answers to above questions were mostly “yes” for me. But now when I have turned into a social worker by job title the answers are not affirmative anymore.

The first premise: “Social worker serves the poor in the society”
Man’s greatest incapacity is demonstrated when he finds an excuse for his situation – I am poor and stuck in vicious circle of poverty. So, why you don’t break that circle? You will have 13 children when you cannot feed yourself. You will be a part of the unions – beggars, rickshawalahs, coolies etc – and find yourself sitting idle rather than work. Finally when you sit idle for so long, you will sleep on a road platform only to be run over by a BMW. Then a social worker should come to help you to provide you justice? You will be the first to fight for your religion and be part of communal violence and expects police to save you and a social worker to rescue you? My dear poor friend, the only reason why you are poor is because you have not exercised your greatest gift – the gift of reasoning and a social worker should only be helping you find that it exists. The fight is of your own.

The second premise: “Social worker serves the incapable”
Let us define incapable here. Physically challenged or mentally challenged or rationally challenged? Take example of Helen Keller for physically challenged as shown in movie “Black”. Is your idea of benevolence a social worker should have is same as that her mother had or her teacher had? Her teacher was not at all benevolent. In fact, he was cruel. Was he still a social worker? In highest sense of term. He helped her find out the reasoning that “I can do it. I will do it” unlike everyone else whose benevolence was born out of pity that “she cannot”. Did the teacher serve the incapable or the capable?

The third premise : “Social worker serves people who have lesser than us”
What they have less? Money? Power? Or they belong to inferior race, caste? What a social worker will do for them? Mahatma Gandhi is considered a champion of caste oppression. But did he serve the Harijans because they had lesser than other castes or because they were equal to any other caste? Did he serve the people who are lesser than us or people who are equal to us?

A social worker serves the equally capable men and women who have not yet found the gift of reasoning in themselves and they are lesser, incapable and poor in only that sense.

Can any Tom, Dick and Harry become a social worker? Certainly not. It is a job where you require great leadership skills and great convictions. It is a job where you need belief not only on yourself but on people who you are working for. It is a job which does not work on principle of love for fellow men or kindness towards them but on rationality, reasoning and will-power.

And if you are altruist by nature then job of a social worker is certainly not for you. You really need to be selfish for the purpose of serving someone else. You are serving them for your own sake. You want to use your skills to help them find their capability. It is you who you want to win most badly. You want to be a champion or a teacher to bring out other people’s capability.

If you are becoming a social worker because you feel for the society or you are benevolent or an altruist or you love humanity then you are setting out yourself with false premises because to be a social worker you will have to be cruel, egoist and truly, madly, deeply in love with yourself.
As for me, I am trying hard to become one.