Nothing is more precious in the world than Freedom. It makes us happy and satisfied. This is for the same reason that we celebrate ‘Independence Day every year with great enthusiasm. Freedom allows us to be what we are, do what we want, and express how we want. But often, we do not experience breathing in the free air of confidence because of certain restrictions.
Most critical instances wherein I felt that more Freedom would have allowed me to realise my potential in a better way-
I cannot forget my experience with the Hindi mentor when I was a grade 7A at a school in Delhi. No matter how good I used to write, forget about giving good marks; she would give me an ‘F’. It would surprise me as I was always good at Hindi. She used to praise my answers but would not give me marks. She wanted me to write the answers, given by herself or in the textbook. I was terrible at rotting the answers. Students were not allowed in her class to write the answers in their own words. It was only allowed in paragraph or letter writing. I used to feel suffocated in that class as I could not express myself the way I wanted, which made me lose my confidence. It took me a lot of time to regain my faith when I met a geography teacher in grade 8. She would listen, correct and guide us when required. She gave us the Freedom to express the situations in our own words. She was the reason I attended school regularly.
I remember another instance from my school. My school used to conduct class-wise special assemblies every week. I was in grade 9A then and finally got a chance to perform in front of the entire school. We had a week time to practice before the final assembly. The speakers, characters and dancers were already decided by the mentor. Some students, including me, still need to get a chance to even appear for the audition. I felt as if I am good for nothing. I was blaming myself for not being good enough to be chosen to perform, but after so many years, I realised it was not my fault. Instead, it was the responsibility of my mentor, or I should say ‘Teacher’, who should have included all of us in the assembly. Every child cannot be good at everything, but he/ she is capable of many things. One must have an eye to see them.
These kinds of circumstances exist even today. I have worked with many schools in the past and noticed that ‘Teachers’ are interested in showing the bright students in their classes and highlighting them in class assemblies, annual functions etc. Appreciation is not in offering something that already exists, as no effort is taken. It is when one can bring out the hesitation from a less confident student and make him/ her believe that he/she is better than anyone. One hand of support can take someone a long way.
I was never a very bright student in my school. But I thank God for that, as it made me a good teacher mentor today. It is not essential to know what a mentor should do; it is more important to understand what he/ she must never do, as his/ her actions can change someone’s life forever.
In my opinion, people give up Peace and adopt violence when they are not trusted, getting returns on their excellent behaviour and when they are taken for granted. The classroom can be used to shape peace-loving individuals with the help of an understanding mentor.
She must treat all her students equally.
She must listen to the problems of every child.
Try to find the reason for violence/ anger.
Take up the stories to clear doubts without pointing out any child.
Create importance of patience, teamwork and leadership.
Laugh with them, relate with them.
Create a healthy, happy and helpful classroom environment where students know they will be heard, trusted and acknowledged.
I generally tell my students that it is ok to be angry, but one must learn to control and balance the behaviour as it does not give the right to be cruel. I have recently learned that every emotion and emoji is essential, but words are the most important. Use them!
Gyanshree School, Noida