Abinay Sali,student at XLRI a teacher volunteer at eVidyaloka took time out of his vacation to visit his students at Laxmipuram school, Andhra Pradesh.
Here he pens down his experience which is a motivator for all of us at eVidyaloka.
The school of Laxmipuram has a pretty small batch as opposed to some of the bigger batches of E-vidyaloka. The village is accessible from Vijayawada region, the working capital of Andhra Pradesh. So there weren’t big puzzles about reaching the village there. It was an easy drive. I managed to get there with my Dad. The kids were excited and I was expecting to take a class for my 7th standard students but everyone in the high school turned up. The 6th, 7th and 8th grade kids turned up to my class. I have this tendency of asking kids about what they aspire to become in life, so I did it with the 6th and 8th kids. What to do? I know my kids well, didn’t feel like asking them again. The reason I do this is because I believe when you state an aspirational goal you would believe in it and reinforce that the goal is achievable. I have read somewhere, “An unsaid goal is a wish” The reason we teach kids fairy tales is because all the stories tell them that dragons can be defeated.
After getting to know the kids of the other classes. I had the dilemma of what to teach? Since the lowest grade among the audience was 6th grade I decided to pick up a 6th grade lesson for the day. I gave the kids the choice of the subject, they asked me to teach English. I managed to pick one lesson and taught them for about 40 minutes. As I teach science for the 7th grade, I thought something related to science would be better and fall in line with what I am doing for the term. Again I would have loved to teach a poem or a problem given my love for literature or math but we have to choose something at the end of the day. The topic was about growing trees and the benefits it has got. I keep my classes interactive to the extent I can. And what was astonishing is the fact that the 8th standard kids have exceeded my expectations and are quite good at science. While the subject was English, it had a lot to do with science. The breathing vs photosynthesis had quite a bit of discussion, then there was a good question asked by someone about the co-existence of trees. I talked about stuff like survival of the fittest, co-existence and the shared value in which nature dwells on. It felt good to talk about a topic like growing trees since I personally love nature. The teachers who teach them have done a good job especially the ones at eVidyaloka. 6th students are slightly uncomfortable, the 7th are slightly comfortable and the 8th kids rocked, so the teachers who teach them and taught them seem to have broken the barriers with them. I too wish to get my 7th kids to the level of the 8th kids if not better in terms of their social capabilities and confidence in life.
At college, a month ago some very close friends of mine did a case study on e-vidyaloka model and they got to talk to Venkat. I don’t know if they shared the feedback of the case study or the original case-PPT with the organization but having witnessed the critical analysis of the organization added to the 3-month stint with the organization I thought I knew quite a bit about the pros and cons of e-vidyaloka. But the visit did teach certain things, there is a lot to learn and a lot to do. There is good support system at eVidyaloka but resources are always limited and they constrain the growth, the only resource that can overcome any shortcoming is the human brain. How I wish these kids get a weekly personality development class over skype! I write or speak what I feel, I personally hate being diplomatic, the kids are struggling with low morale and social capabilities. How do we bridge this? Time will only tell! Taking pics with kids and posing as if I have saved the earth from drowning is not my way of doing things. The reason I decided to write this is to appeal to the readers that there is lot to do. Yes we can say it the Mother Teresa way, “What we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop” but the target is the ocean until its last drop! Analogies speak of the impossible, vision speaks of something that is possible. Every single kid in this country deserves love, caring, inspiration and education. I feel uncomfortable when some of my teachers complain about the discipline or the shortage of resources or erratic nature of connectivity. Yes, there would be issues. In my class I give my kids 100% chance to speak up and mischief is encouraged, what is childhood for? Reading Brownian motion and solving 4th
order differential equation? Yes we have our constraints, who doesn’t? Internet would constrain us, discipline would constrain us, resources would constrain us and yes, our personal life would constrain us. At the end of the day every constraint is the cause of creativity, if we feel constrained we aren’t trying to solve things creatively. No, you don’t do things to inspire! You do things to solve the problem. If people get inspired and join you in the process, it has to just be seen as a catalyst (hehe, I am a science teacher after all) to solve the problem. The journey to Laxmipuram was a physical visit? I don’t know! There is this collective journey a set of people have been in for some time this journey was a sub-subset of it. The journey is to solve the educational inequality of the world and eVidyaloka is one of the vehicles in the process.