There is something refreshing about the unapologetic boldness that is reflected in the naivety of a child’s personality. They gallop around playfully, not too concerned with how other children perceive them as long as they achieve their desired quota of fun. That is what is in abundance here; personality, literally pouring out of each classroom and overflowing into the playgrounds and swirling in the atmosphere of distinct un-pretence. Were you waiting for me to be cliché and say “hope”? No. I’m really not about that cliché life! 😀
There is an infectious innocent joy that exists especially in the seating of five students in a space made for two, and I realized, it’s not because they want to, but because they have to. A closeness that bounces off the walls, seeps in through the cracks in the windows and fills the whole classroom with a crackling current of inclusive participation. Everyone wants to show off their knowledge (“Teacher me!”); everyone wants to hold the piece of chalk and stretch to the top of the blackboard to scribble a math sum; girls always have chalk while boys always have an answer. Thank Jesus I had to do very little talking and explaining, it would have drained me the little minions had it all covered!
The amount of competitive energy in that small Class 7 classroom could fill a packet of Urban Bites, unlike the real snacks themselves. NKT. Everyone wants to solve a problem and I saw them fight each other to do it. I had to pull this small boy called Dennis from another taller boy because they were fighting to get to the blackboard; under different circumstances, I would have enjoyed that fight but being a teacher meant setting an example. Bummer. What actually shocked me was that they would speak up if they did not agree with my answer; I would smile at this impressive show of defiance and ask them what their proposed solution would be…
In as much as they shared a desk, their ambitions were totally divergent. “Why are you in school?” I asked, away from the cliché “What do you want to be when you grow up” vibe. “Teacher I’m here to learn how to become a biologist” this girl called Immaculate shared. “Why a biologist?” I asked and probed further, “What’s the difference between you and a doctor?” The whole class fell into a silent contemplation, some even daring to face Immaculate who looked at me with an expression of confusion on her face. I had cornered her in my search for intellectual activity. I knew it was a hard question, “why” always is, especially in this generation where intellectual stimulation is a rare gem and a meaningful intellectual conversation is a mental burden on many. A large part of me wanted her to answer the question; scratch that, NEEDED her to answer the question. I would take ANY answer, anything but the blank stare characteristic of a mental vacancy that I’ve had to get so accustomed to throughout my life. “Teacher, a biologist studies animals and plants, so without me, a doctor would have no information to treat with.” It was an immaculate answer. I was put in my place. I slowly released my breath. First lesson learnt: knowledge has the same effect as a packet of skittles; relish in its rarity, sweet, comes in different colors and flavors, but the effect is always the same, it enriches, satisfies, can be shared and found even in the least expected places. (Chandarana is where I found mine btdubbz!!)