The article is a tribute to all the teachers who inspired me and to all the students who made me who I am!
“A teacher affects eternity. No one can tell where his influence stops”.
Being a teacher is a rare privilege; a privilege synonymous with responsibility, obligation and commitment. You are being looked upon and you behold within you the fortune to inspire. You possess the power and potential to change the world. You can’t afford to take the position lightly because the impact a teacher has on his or her student is enormous and it knew no leaps and bounds. Apart from inculcating education, the pivotal role of a teacher is to encourage the students to find themselves. After all realizing one’s true ability and potential is the greatest discovery ever. Mark Von Doren rightly observes: “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery”.
I am a Skill Development Executive (SDE) of Additional Skill Acquisition Programme (ASAP) in Govt. HSS Keezharoor, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. ASAP is a joint initiative by the General and Higher Education Departments, Govt. of Kerala, preordained at providing additional skill sets to the students along with their regular courses. The programme is implemented at almost all the government and aided higher secondary schools in Kerala. The programme envisages providing the students training in Communicative English, IT and a selected skill course of their aptitude which will, in turn, equip the students to increase their employability. At ASAP we believe that “True education is the all round development of the faculties best attainted through action”, as observed by Mahatma Gandhi. Students who are socially and economically downtrodden and marginalized are the main focus of ASAP. Through ASAP we are attempting to bring a positive change in the outlook of the society.
It’s been 4 years since I started my voyage with ASAP. From being a vocation it soon became my passion, my identity and my legacy. Together with my students I have managed to overcome many hurdles and adversities that came our way. We function as an entity. On this note I would like to document some of the programmes and initiatives that make my school different and stand out from others. The things we have accomplished may seem meager and not up to the mark for many. But hailing from a remote geographical set up, with majority of the students being socially and economically isolated, I am proud to say that my students have made their presence felt. They never let anything stop them to be the pioneers and torch bears. What more can I possible ask for?
- A Room of Our Own: A class room is not always just a physical requirement. It’s not merely an infrastructure. It’s much more than that. Virginia Wolf was right in that sense. The students of Govt. HSS Keezharoor were successful in setting up a room exclusively for ASAP at their institution. It’s a place where they can be themselves without the fear of being judged. In ASAP we follow ICT enabled teaching strategy. With making the room functional to arranging the computers, everything was the result of the hard work and determination of my students. It gave them a feeling of unity. A sense of being a part of something. It made them proud. Even the former ASAP students of the institution played their part. After the room materialized now they are united under the parasol of ASAP. ASAP is their new identity.
- Reading is dead! Is that so? Books are the abundance of hidden treasures of knowledge and wisdom. Even though we are living in as society where technology rules the roost the students need to be made aware about the pleasure of reading. Thus we decided to set up a small book club for the ASAP students. To improve their language and communication skills books in English where given priority. The responses of the students were truly enlightening. The young generation doesn’t necessarily dissociate themselves from books, as it is often been accused. They just need a platform and an opportunity to get themselves familiar with the art of reading books. Soon they will fell in love with it. After reading discussions and reviews were often held to pursue their interest further.
- Man is a social animal: Education doesn’t always ends within the four walls of a room. It’s outside the classroom that the real education begins. Students should be made socially competent and responsive from a young age. They must be taught to help others and to feel compassion and empathy for the needy. Then only they will be able to be the catalysts of change that our society is in dire need of. Along with my students I have visited orphanages, poor homes for the old and differently able etc. We often try to collect clothes, food and other necessities and distribute it to them. These kinds of visits will make the students change their outlook. They will become much more appreciative of the things provided to them. They will learn to enjoy and experience life without fuss and complaints.
- Skill Fest: Under the auspice of ASAP we organize competitions exclusively for our students. This will help to ensure maximum participation. The students are brought to the limelight. They are made aware of the ecstasy of being on a stage. When their talents and abilities are accepted and appreciated they will be brave enough to try again. I make sure that my students participate in all the extra-curricular activities at their institution. They just need a push towards the right direction. These kinds of competitions help in reducing their fear and stage fright. With practice they could end up being the starts of their school. From being an introvert shy student to a socially proficient and confidant one, the transformation is not far.
- Let them be leaders: Rather than the teachers and the parents organizing and conducting events at schools why don’t we give the students a chance to prove themselves? Thus we organized ASAP club. Here the only duty of a teacher is to guide the students. The students are excellent organizers and they have many innovative and creative ideas that even surpass our understanding. Now name any event and my students are ready to organize it in an excellent manner. Nothing stops the youthful vigor and the eternal thirst to prove themselves.
Children are like free radicals. Full of vibrancy, enthusiasm, curiosity, pulsating with free will and spirit. Today majority of the educational institutions rampantly follow the tenet of restriction and constraint. Innovation, curiosity and creativity are often strangled by regulations, requirements and numerous other boundaries. If a student manages to break free he or she is treated as an outcast. How can we expect the students to thrive on a system hell bent on standardization? I believe that the students should be given wings to pursue their dreams. Let them be different. Teach them that different is at times exceptional and way better. It is indeed a herculean and phenomenal task, but not impossible or unattainable. Hope is all that needs to attain this seemingly unattainable target. There is nothing in this world powerful than a positive push. A smile. A word of optimism and encouragement. A ‘you can do it’ when things are tough. Be the change you wish to see in this world.
“A teacher is a beacon light that acts as a light house to guide the stranded students in the sea of life”.
-A P J Abdul Kalam