A young woman has been trying to educate migrant children who do not have access to public education, and shares her experiences and lessons from this unique classroom environment.
When I joined Bhoomi College two years ago to do the Holistic Education Course, I was certain that I wanted to work in the field of education. Issues of equity and social justice had long been a trigger for me, and kindled the activist in me.
At Gubbachi Learning Community, a community of learners who have come together to bridge migrant out-of-school children back into the public education system, these two streams converged as I found a learning space to live out the activist in me.
I remember reviewing a book by KT Margaret called The Open Classroom while at Bhoomi College and being totally absorbed by it. Fascinated by the author’s energy, pioneering spirit, and sheer persistence, I was also enthralled by her diverse group of kids. I didn’t know then that such a world would open up for me as well! So also would the challenges and delights of such a journey.
It has been a year since I have taken up the humbling journey of a teacher, though I would not want to call myself that. I would rather see myself as a learner and partake in the process of exchanging new knowings with the beautiful little people at Gubbachi.
Just spending time with children at this place of learning has been enriching, and helped me explore their potential and the numerous possibilities that exist.
Being the adult in a room full of children has made me realize the creativity it takes to stick around, the patience it takes to earn their trust, and the wisdom it takes to see the struggle behind the tantrums.
The rewards of being the teacher to these children who are oblivious of today’s technology and the fast city life are superlatively wonderful.
I teach elementary Kannada and Math, and occasionally assist during English classes. I have been a witness to the challenges faced by the children in each of these subjects as they try to address the innate curiosity of a child to learn. This paves the way for innovations and creativity from my end to make learning relevant and interesting.
During my days at Bhoomi, there was a lot of emphasis on making education holistic, and including nature in the curriculum. As I work with children at Gubbachi, I seem to be getting a practical experience of what holistic actually means.
As we go through a book in the class on farming (the book is all about learning certain aspects of the local language), I am pleasantly taken aback by the knowledge that the children possess of each and every step involved in farming.
If the topic of snakes comes up, they tell me about all the types of cobras one can find in the wild. Some of the children even know how to catch them.
If the topic of goats comes up, they know the difference between goats and their cousins. They are steadfast in correcting me if I dare generalize.
If I bring up the topic of cooking, they will give me an algorithm for making rotis. They can even rattle off the names of all the ingredients needed for making sabzi.
All this just makes me wonder: What are the children doing these days in a school? Aren’t we just dumbing down children?
I enjoy the synergy of a group that resonates with each other in their beliefs, stimulating critical thinking. Our discussions and reflections help us grapple with the injustices we face daily as we work with the children. An analytical thinker, I like to deeply dive to the roots of issues to enable connections and action from there.
As a team of teachers, they provide me with unconditional support, and are very open to new ideas and techniques. Understanding and immensely sensitive of one’s suggestions, they give others space and freedom to innovate inside and outside the classroom. The process of designing and delivering the curriculum is commendable.
The love, compassion, and kindness everyone exhibits even in the face of grave social injustice is heartwarming.
Though this job doesn’t pay me, it has been the most fulfilling and productive work of my life so far. The resilient spirit of my children reflects in their bright smiles, in spite of all that they have to face. Their open undisguised affection constantly inspires me to give them a chance for an equal footing. The joy of every day being a new adventure keeps the fire of being a learner intact within me.