Wednesday, April 22, 2009

i talk , therefore i am

In the middle of my summer camp, working with children between 4 to 6 years in the morning and then with 7 to 11 years in the afternoon. I find this time of the year both demanding and satifying. While i enjoy developing content for the older batches, i love the time i spend with the younger ones. The difference i discovered early on in my work with children is that the younger they are, the more open they are to a variety of learning experiences. Their reactions and responses are brilliant in their originality. And they respond out of the excitement to learn and not to appear "cool" with other peers like the older ones do!

Also, yesterday in the middle of the session with the older kids, another contrast struck me - the HUGE difference in the noise levels. As children get older, the decibel levels also increase quite drastically. So the loudest group i need to tolerate (rather badly i admit) is the 9-11 year olds. They are REALLY loud - be it when responding to what i am sharing , or asking for things or simply while talking to one another. As a teacher – I myself don’t set a great example – shouting over the children’s voices to be heard and (pointlessly) trying to establish control over the group!

This got me thinking. Why do children have such a strong need to be loud? Is this their way to cope with the clamor around them? So much so that even when in quieter spaces they are unable to recognize it and moderate their volume. Most seem to use the same volume in a group of 10 as they do in a group of 60 back in school. Overcrowded cities, packed malls, crammed classrooms, angry traffic on the roads - quite a deafening world to be raised in!

Or is it that children constantly need to speak loudly to get the attention they need from us adults around? Having to speak over the evening news, the phone calls, the orders, the reprimanding...that sure needs high volume!

Another gnawing doubt, is this their desperate attempt to get the appreciation they deserve for who they are? With over-reliance on verbal intelligence in most urban learning settings, articulation gets kids instant recognition, indulgent smiles and pats on the back. So the only way for the child to feel appreciated is probably to talk talk talk and talk LOUD!

And in this entire pandemonium, there would be a child who is unable to speak up or maybe chooses not to join the hubbub...this child, like everyone else, has the need to be acknowledged, to be appreciated, to be valued would be like the others. How does that silent (yet gifted) child cope with this reality?

So as i sit in the class, overwhelmed by the decibel levels, i struggle to create a space where observing in silence, and allowing reflection to nurture one's learning and growth is possible. Where i listen first before i speak out. And allow the child in me and those outside feel valued and appreciated without having to scream out loud.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

To each her own!

A few days back, drastic temperature variations in Bangalore and sure enough little Nia fell sick. She had a terrible cough and found it difficult to eat. My latest stand in life - say no to anitbiotics - led to me treating her with some home remedies (details of which are saved for another blog). So while she was getting better (will never admit otherwise), it was a slow process.

So three days of being sick, nia was up almost all night due to coughing. With all the sleep deprivation, she woke up quite disoriented. As usual she called out to me but sounded different. When i went to her room, she was sitting up, wide-eyed and looking a little surprised, a little confused. Here's what she had to say:

nia: mamma the room is shaking

me: not it is not (and i hold her tight hoping it'd help - but it obviously didn't)

nia: it is mamma, IT IS! and what is that dum dum sound

me: sweetie there is no sound

nia continued to sit there still trying to figure out and me - i am all set to pick up the phone and call the doc. Just to check i ask her: has the shaking stopped kunju?

nia: no mamma, but why are we taking the whole house on the train? are we going to ammamma?

me: nia there is no train. it is our house baaboo.

and i just sit there - holding her, looking at her - and she still glances around all baffled, trying to figure it out.....

...when suddenly, all confusion from her face clears and with her ah-i-cracked-this-one look , she turns to me and says: now i know what it is mamma,its my heart drums!

beat on crazy drums!