I don’t claim to be an expert at anything, but at the same time don’t shy away from trying to know everything. It is all because of a strange journey that began in small village in India, and later morphed by living in a big city soon after and by a person who spoke many languages. He was known as ‘Meshtru’ in my language that means teacher in English and also happened to be my father or ‘Anna’ in my language. When all other kids called their father ‘appa’ in my language, I did not know how it happened to be ‘Anna’ for me.
When I started to learn at a humble kinder school in a small village known as Shikaripur I did not know that I would end up in a primary school in Bangalore that looked, sounded and felt bizarre to me. Spending most of my time sitting on a concrete floor at kinder and behind few others who were either sleeping in their ragged cloths or actively blowing their noses or scratching all over, mostly over the head when asked question, they all looked very comfortable and seemed to enjoy the class. However, the transformation from that to the primary school set up was shocking. Everyone wore a khaki short and a white shirt. I was made to wear one too. This primary school had benches to sit and foldable desktops that many could use for many different purposes but mostly for sleeping. We were only allowed to keep books on the desktops, but I was seeing that many kids were happy to keep any part of their bodies rest, as class progressed. I was very annoyed as I was woken from my sleep and was asked to stand on the bench till the class finished. I was the subject of an unfortunate glance from the teacher that caught me napping on the desktop. My protests that others were sleeping too was in vain, like protesting in front of a brick wall. Others laughed at my protests, but that seemed even stranger when I kept asking myself, what is wrong in sleeping if you are sleepy? Our teacher back at the village never objected to sleep and he was even kind enough to set us up properly to sleep better.
Fast forward to now and learning is happening, probably, at thousand times the speed, yet parents are not happy about it. Any child lagging behind is attached with all sorts of titles that only a medical person can decipher. I do not know what I would have done if I had gone to some kind of slumber sleep that woke me up from a 1960 sleep, that I happened to take on that primary school desktop, to now.
I realize that learning never ceases to happen as even recollecting such an experience made me realize that it is better we give our kids room to relax as our teacher did in the village than to pressure them with punishment as our teacher did in the primary school.