I work with the youngest minds of our society. They are exposed to do things far beyond their curriculum. That’s why I prefer calling them “little big minds of my classroom”. My classroom, as I happily call it, is an extremely enabling space. It’s a class which is abuzz with acceptance and disagreements, thereby providing a constant opportunity for learning – unlearning and relearning. I feel extremely privileged because of these bunch of stories around me, which provide a constant sense of “self-actualization”.
My classroom and similar other enabling avenues, allow me to re-explore already known aspects, but with a completely diverse set of lenses. Every week I interact with over 250 students and with their myriad of perspectives, each of which conveys a unique story. Their stories often reflect their experiences, strengths and a glimpse of their aspirations. Not only do they speak their minds, but also actively engage in conversations into unchartered domains.
These little big minds have accepted me the way I am and provided me a space in their life where they can talk about their loved ones and their feelings. Whether it’s about my love for applying mehndi on my hands, or pushing them to their limits or wearing wrist bands, their acceptance is “complete”. My earlier sense of “apprehension” has given way to a sense of “complete mutual trust”.
At one of my schools, I engage with the diverse schools of arts/ art forms. Some groups, with the love of acting, while other groups that enjoy storytelling, to a complete contrast with another group that enjoys coloring and painting, and another set that deals only in poetries.
Here’s a glimpse of one such poetry, directly from the classroom:-
“एम्पथी जब मैं दिखाती हूँ,
तो बहुत खुश हो जाती हूँ।
जब मुझे लगता है कि
मैं सबको समझ पाती हूँ,
तो बहुत खुश हो जाती हूँ।
दोस्तों के लिए मॉनिटर के रूप में,
उनकी थोड़ी स्ट्रिक्ट दोस्त बन जाती हूँ।
जब मेरा कोई गिर जाता है,
मैं दुखी हो जाती हूँ।
जब हमारा पेपर आता
हम खुश हो जाते हैं।
जब मेरी चीज़ गुम हो जाती,
मैं रोने लगती हूँ ।
किसी को समझना आसान नहीं होता,
फिर भी कोशिश करती हूँ।”0
– A poem by Shahida
[When I act with empathy, I feel very happy. when I feel I am able to understand others, I feel very happy. In the form of a monitor, I become a little strict to my friends. When someone falls, I feel sad. When our results come, We feel happy. When I lose something, I start crying. To understand someone is not easy, But I still try.]
A couple of weeks back in one of my classrooms we were discussing Conflict and this is how the kids fought against the Mr/Mrs.Conflict. They performed a play where they made Mr conflict the king of the world. They made anger, jealousy, greed, abusive words and tension as soldiers of Mr conflict and how they will resolve the conflict.. And another group of students presented Conflict in a form of photo story where they talked about road accidents and how they arise but everyone starts making videos and no one cares to resolve them. These two diverse yet distinct ways of presentation have taught me a lot, about the old and the ongoing contemporary issues. All this, in addition to the phenomenal analytical skills of the students, has not just encouraged me but has also constantly kept me on my toes. Thereby, necessitating constant introspection and an honest reflection of my work. In a nutshell, all this has not just enhanced my skills and given me a sense of maturity in my thinking, along with a sense of intense joy and contentment.
Hence, a constant reassurance of the phrase “do what you Iove”.
This is the photo story created by the students:
About the author: Shahbaan Shah joined Apni Shala as a programme fellow after finishing his Graduation in Sociology. When shahbaan is not in class building life skills with children, Shahbaan enjoys expresssing himself through poetry. He also represents himself as the founder of SHOR Poetry Club.