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Thursday, August 03, 2006

school and all that

Here's something that came to me by way of a text message from a friend--

Those ‘night outs’,
those ‘midnight coffees’,
those ‘birthday bumps’,
those ‘old torn jeans’,
those ‘late night walks’,
those ‘long chats’, those
‘pinches ‘n slaps’,
those ‘crushes on pals’,
those ‘getting kicked out of classes’,
those ‘struggle for marks’,
those ‘writing on desks’,
those ‘fights with teachers’,
those ‘tears for love’,
those ‘fake project reports’.

Just everything that’s in all of us that’s called school life.

I call it Heaven.


(from Lakshmi Rameshwar Rao, aka Buchamma, August 1, 2006)

Got me thinking about that special space within us called childhood...or as it may be, not so special place, for some. I was myself relatively untouched by major trauma in school, but again, school does mark us in certain ways, for good or bad. For those of us who went to convent schools, there was the dark fascination with the concept of SIN and eternal damnation, and many of us lived in fear that we would never be saved if we prayed (or did not) to any gods other than the ONE we were told gave us the Word. And for others, I'm sure there were different but comparable fears and hopes that were dished out with the daily lesson plans. Ultimately, what we remember from school is more the 'sense' of learning rather than the content. The nice (or not-so-nice) things our teachers told us, the sense of self-esteem that we did or did not develop, the friends we made or failed to keep...these are the things that make our patchwork of memories from school, not the history or geography or science or maths lessons. Those were merely the context within which life happened. And now, as a teacher myself, I find that the things students come back to me with are rarely the debates we had in class, or the questions we grappled with about this theory or that. Instead, they come back with memories of the things we said around our lessons, the smiles, the frowns, that gave them a good or a bad feeling, the talks about life, rather than about the texts that they were required to read. Those are the lessons they keep and take with them, and bring back to me, for me to learn from, all over again. And each time I interact with a person who was once my student (and continues to be, in a way), I am full of gratitude for these moments of shared learning. It's great to be a teacher...it means, always, to be a learner.

And that's a long walk from a little text message that came in on my mobile phone!