The Flip Side
From times immemorial we have been taught that knowledge must always be accompanied by humility. We have seen many epitomes of this co-existence. But how far can a lay man achieve it? The vision of an ideal state breaks down to minute pieces at the door of a daily wage labourer. They are not worried about how the future is going to look or what the purpose of life is. All they want to do, is survive the day. But I shall persevere, to push my students to fight the odds and worry about the future, because it is needed, because they are going to be the decision makers!
On the path to excellence, I find it hard to change the students’ perspective about each other. They are individually very smart and understand the necessity of working together and being compassionate but they somehow fail to put it into action. I chose my battle, I chose to get them to first follow my instructions irrespective of what they feel or think. This was imperative because I cannot afford to be over-powered in class. It will come crumbling down upon me if even one small incident is ignored.
After giving incentives and consequences, after being disrespected, abused and sometimes beaten, I have to a certain extent got the majority to listen to me. It takes a lot of constant reinforcement, but I have to do it and am doing it. Now that I have their attention, I can teach content. But the moment I get them involved with each other to learn or help, things crumble. Gradual release of responsibility does not work because when they start doing it on their own, there is always a conflict. Sometimes I lose it. Sometimes I give up and say,”Fine, fight. Do whatever you want!”
Identifying the key students whose behaviour if I control first, I can turn the others around, I focussed on them. Having achieved some success, I could now concentrate on the others using these few as support and/or examples. Not once did I think this would be backfiring in a different way, the flip side of my management tactics!
The top order of the class (who also were the students with behaviour issues) started failing. They started losing interest in studies. They performed extremely well during class, followed every instruction sincerely, showed immense growth during revisions but in the test, they failed. I don’t know why, I don’t know how.
Is it a choice I have to make? Between getting them to co-exist peacefully and achieving academic excellence? Is it possible for me to find a middle ground? But settling is not my cup of tea. They need to get to where I want them to. I fear that they will end up choosing the wrong path in future. Many of the students are extremely intolerant towards their peers because of religion, caste, gender, ‘status’ etc. How will I get them to understand that education and humility must go hand in hand?
There is an answer out there that I need to find badly. There is a key out there that is going to unleash the true potential of these kids. There is a hope out there that these few, will write history. But when I will lay my hands on it, is yet to be seen!