Monday, April 23, 2012

The Symphonies

Inclined towards understanding the real nature of human, I have been finding contradiction more than non-contradictions around me. The duality of human psyche and its ramifications on the world pushes me sometimes away from pursuing excellence. Occasionally, however, I have a tryst with wisdom more than ignorance, work-ethic rather than hypocrisy, excellence instead of randomness. That makes me stand up and give my cause, a fuel and my effect, some meaning.

The human brain is not gifted with perfect senses and it cannot see and comprehend completely the world around and within. That primarily is the cause of duality. Recently, I had an out-pour in front of my program manager, Emma, about my acceptance of duality of people. She answered wittingly that duality will exist. But what we can do is inspire our surroundings to minimize it  and do not react differently to people who we conceive as having high proportion of it. It gave my disturbed mind some peace because I acknowledged it a part of within and of others. We also talked about that work that we do can have such a terrible impact if we do not address duality.

In past month, I read two autobographies - one of Dalai Lama and the other "The autobiography of Yogi". Both led me to read Bhagwad Gita. I remember picking up Bhagwad Gita four years ago and putting it down because of incomprehension. But today I am able to atleast read through it with an intention of picking up as soon as I find time again. To whatever extent I am able to comprehend, it gives me lot of peace. Bhagwad Gita talks about finding peace through service of others. What form of service we choose is onto us. When I tell people that I was happy with my technology job as well as happy being a teacher, they ask me what gave you more happiness? I really have no answer. At Teach for India, I definitely have more challenges and independence to deal with those but I loved what I did as an engineer and a lead. This arises a confusion in terms of choosing the appropriate service for lifetime.

In the book, "The autobiography of Yogi", The Guru of the Yogi, gives him an experience of the cosmos world, where he sees through the soil and the sky, by touching his heart. Just after experiencing something so huge, both the Guru and the disciple humbly sweep the floor. Is there a bigger definition of humility? The learning of spirituality is magnanimous through these two books and I sometimes wonder if I can just get it within me somehow. I wish to comprehend every teaching and use it in my life, find out a way life should be lived with these imperfect senses.

I heard the rising and falling symphonies of flute of Hariprasad Chaurasia, as I write, and the rise and the fall, gives notes to the duality within.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why low-income private schools are failing?

I have announced to my students and their parents about my departure. Leaving behind kids and their hopeful parents is certainly difficult for me. But recently, this turned out into a classic ethical dilemma.

Few parents called me to ask if they can pull the child out from the school. These parents can afford a little better private school due to their good financial situations. Since I am leaving as well, they would rather take the child to a "better" school. The definition of better is - good buildings, good toilets, well-dressed teachers and may be a little better education.

Teach for India holds MoU with each school of staying with a class for at least 6 years. Now, I tried to ensure few parents about the quality of teachers a child will get because of presence of Teach for India. They reply back by saying that it is because of my teaching that their child has been able to get admission to the new school. They are glad that I came and they are happy that child is now getting into what he deserved. I put forward few arguments that a good teacher is sufficient infrastructure in herself. But I myself am leaving the school so I lose that ground.

I really could not argue their motivation to see their child in a better school. Besides, parents could see how even low-income private school is so much profit driven to never re-invest back into the school. Kids deserve better education, better facilities and better infrastructure. By my presence, only one aspect was ensured. And
since I am no authority mandating other aspects in the school, I cannot get this done. By just being a teacher, I cannot force principal to comply to maintain certain standards.

I recall in our last week end of year summit, what Shaheen Mistri, our CEO, told us. Teach for India as an organization cannot send teachers to each classroom having an educational inequity. But by giving us an experience at such a grass root level, it builds a base of strong alumni, who stand up against this at a higher level of impact and mandate schools to give each child a Right to Education the way he deserves and - NOT JUST ON PAPERS.