Inside Out

Notes on seeking wisdom and crafting software

As a teacher

For the past four Saturdays, I (along with a friend) have been volunteering for two-three hours at a local school in a neighborhood slum. This is a government school, has one classroom and hosts classes I to V. The students are taught in Telegu as primary medium of instruction.

On the first day, we played a simple thought game. All our students wrote few words on their dreams for future and spoke on it. Their thoughts (translated by a friend, I still don’t understand Telegu) got me wonder struck. They were simple and beautiful. All of them wanted to do something for the country, help poor patients, eradicate evil. Doctors, Teachers and Police were amongst the dream professions.

Only 10% of the kids understand Hindi, and both of us do not understand Telegu. So we decided to take up general Maths, English and Hindi. The next week, series of shocks ensued. As homework these kids just copy the text from textbooks. Class IV students were able to beautifully recite Hindi poems they have learnt, but they fail to read other Hindi words containing same letters. Our kids deserve better, they have a capability to understand for god’s sake.

Yesterday, we had kids from two other english medium schools joining us. Manohar, studying in class III in an English medium school could read english words, add/subtract very well. But my student Arbaaz studying in the government school is still struggling with identifying small English letters. Inequity is one of the foremost problems :( We have a challenging task ahead of us.

So Arbaaz and me played a word game yesterday. And I taught Sohail (a class IV student) to use a English to Telegu dictionary, with the hope that he will be able to look up, understand the pronunciation in Telegu and meaning of common english words he reads. Let’s see if this helps.

With my brief exposure so far, I can definitely say that teaching is one of the most challenging exercises in past couple of years. My deep regards for our teachers who undertake painstaking effort, spend their time and energy in helping us learn, understand and appreciate the facts.