As a school-going girl, I wasn’t any less chirpy than most kids my age. This, however, lasted only until I graduated from Kindergarten. The fear of punishment took over soon, making me lose every ounce of chirpiness I had. Unable to answer questions being thrown at me by teachers, I was often shouted at, beaten even. I would rather soil myself while sitting in my chair than seek permission from the teacher to use the washroom – that’s how the fear of facing punishment after punishment affected me.
As I grew up, science and social studies became very difficult for me to understand and my fear stopped me from asking questions to teachers about them. I didn’t want any teacher to even look at me or my notebook. I didn’t want the teachers to think that I am weak in any way. But on the contrary, I did want attention and till today I wish for it. When my relatives came over they used to only talk about my studies and tested me on word spellings. But I didn’t want to give up so I used to keep trying. And hence, it became like a war of who gives up first.
The fear of embarrassment increases when you change school. Other students start judging and taunting you if you are from an English-Medium School and teachers also never let go of a chance to embarrass you. This affected me a lot and made me a recluse as I escaped people and explanations. The more I met people, the more I desired to isolate myself. I limited my contact to only my house where I believed that I am good the way I am.
After pursuing B.ED, I left studies and was at home for 5-6 months. At that time I just ate, slept and thought about sources to derive happiness from. I never thought about getting involved in the education space and work with children.
One day, randomly, I attended a workshop organized by Upkram for teachers of Bhartiya Vidya Mandir. The topic for the workshop was ‘Dream School’ and I thought my dream school is where children can enjoy education in the right environment. From then on, I visited their office often and we used to discuss various aspects of education. This encouraged and motivated me to work in this sector.
I started by doing class observations and made a report on it. Whenever I saw a class without teachers, I went on to interact with students. One day, I planned a game for students of class 3 but was also nervous about playing it with them. I didn’t know if they will reciprocate or not. But within 10 minutes of starting the game, we all gelled along pretty well. The students were taking initiative and all my fear and nervousness just went away. It felt like I was reliving my childhood and I was enjoying it too much. In a week, we all became good friends with each other. This rapport built between us bore its fruits when I taught my first lesson to these students. Seeing their excitement to learn made my day!
Now, I am so attached to these children that even if I miss a day of work I do not feel good. I have realized that you don’t have to handle or teach children. They are already very imaginative with their thought process and if given a chance they can fill this world with their innovations. We just have to provide an environment where every student lives his/her childhood without fear. I want to thank Upkram for bringing me to such a beautiful world of children who have in turn helped me get better and comfortable with myself.
Written by Anjali Pandey, School Associate, Upkram
Upkram works towards the holistic development of children from marginalized communities in Uttar Pradesh by providing them access to quality education. They are currently being incubated by EduMentum as part of its second cohort.