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How an Ordinary Lesson Becomes Extraordinary

The other day, I was attending a math lesson on cyclicity and the binomial theorem. It was getting increasingly hard to pay attention as my teacher progressed in the lesson. It was evening and I was exhausted. I teach a class every morning through to the afternoon everyday except Sunday. That day was no exception. As I struggled to stifle a yawn and to keep myself from dozing off during the class, my teacher said something which instantly put my fatigue on the backburner; he announced that he would be going home a little earlier than usual, which meant that he would have all of us working on the worksheets without him monitoring the class. I saw a big opportunity in this. I felt that this would give us all the chance to learn more about each other. I saw this as an opportunity to collaborate and work on math problems with each other and make some friends along the way. My classmates were elated too. Sadly though, they saw a different opportunity in this. 

They all unanimously suggested that every student be allowed to leave for their homes earlier, as the worksheet could be practiced at home as well. But Sir opposed their idea. They bargained with him and it was decided that we all would stay for at least 15 more minutes after Sir leaves the institute. I tried to voice my opinion during his presence and suggested that we should all stay till the end of class hours and work together but my opinion fell on deaf ears. 

It made me think about the system of education we all have been through during our schooling years; one that makes us completely dependent on our teachers instead of fostering independent thinking, one which makes us think that the quieter students are always better-behaved, that the power of working alone is greater than the power of working as a team. It is sad that even today children are learning in environments where they are scolded for working out solutions to problems together, and appreciated when they sit quietly to do their sums, with fingers on their lips. It is appalling to know that the majority of school children in India are made to sit in rows instead of groups in their classrooms, thus limiting the chances of healthy interactions and connections taking place between them.

After sir left, I thought to myself that in the next fifteen minutes, I am going to stress my original point again. But this time, I would let my actions do the talking. So I turned my face to the girl sitting next to me and suggested that we utilize the time by revising the topics studied in the class. It was amazing working with her as she knew the solutions of all the problems I could not figure out during the lesson. Seeing us working so well together, two more people joined us and we discussed about different things and got to know much more about each other. The 15 minute window was irrelevant all of a sudden. We couldn’t care less if we were the only ones left. Truth be told, we were “studying” the way we are supposed to for the first time in a long time. We left very late that day.  

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Pranav Sukhija
Teacher of primary school children, counselor for many, perpetual thinker, voracious writer, avid (not greedy) reader, crazy dancer, joyful singer, wannabe guitarist, wannabe actor, wannabe chef, comfort food lover, nature lover, self-proclaimed photographer, ingenious explorer, Delhi boy who doesn't fulfill most of the assumed 'typical' Delhi boy qualities.


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