During the time when every kid goes to the classes, inside those four walls, to learn, there are some who want to do more than that. They look out of the window and aspire for something different, something more challenging. They dare to be different and achieve even greater heights. This piece is about one such girl who was an “Educator” during our Chennai Pilot and surprised us with her amazing creativity and diligence. We present the journey of a 9th class girl and what she has to say about our concept:
It all started when one day I was in my class with my friends. Our school Coordinator came with some papers in her hand. We thought it was some circular, but then it turned out to be a survey, asking us to write our opinion on group study and teaching our friends and juniors. I filled it, and after a few days, I received a call from an IIT Madras student, Mamatha Akka. She told us about Involve and invited me with my Amma to come and meet them at IIT Madras. I asked my parents about this, and they encouraged me to try this out once. So I went with my Amma, and there we met Prateek Anna and Mamatha Akka. They explained to us that Involve is a place where students are taught by students. They told me that I will be teaching students during weekends, for only 3 hours a day, and it would be a very nice experience. So my Amma agreed and my journey started.
The following weekend, we (there were 5 more friends of mine) were called for a training program, just before the classes started. I met a lot of people there. A tall Anna named Divanshu gave a brief introduction about INVOLVE. He gave us insights into Child Pedagogy. We learnt how to teach a student, how to understand a student’s behaviour and how to grab his attention. At the end of the class, they took feedback from our parents.
The next class started with a game, where we were made partners, and asked to write about “things which you will take to an island for staying for a month”. We came up with all ridiculous types of answers, and it was a total fun. That day we got to know how to behave with a student, and we all were given a topic to teach as a demo.
The next week the actual fun began, as the classes started. We were excited to see the children. I was allotted class 7th students to teach. There were 4 students in my class, all of them from Tamil Nadu Board (Samacheer Kalvi curriculum).
Shanmuga Priya teaching 7th-grade students
This went on for 8 weeks. In this span, I learnt a lot about teaching and learning for myself too. The working environment was wonderful there. Those 3 hours of every Saturday and Sunday gave me the enthusiasm and the feeling that yes, a lot can be done for improving the education in India, even as a student. And it was not only teaching that happened there, it was teaching using many fun-filled activities, games and interesting videos. My students actually enjoyed learning, and they were the one who came on time, just to get taught by me. It was an amazing motivation for me as well.
Not only did we do this, we even played songs in the classroom, after the lessons ended, and danced as well. All my students were good dancers. We drew funny drawings of everyone. I remember one of the students made a Doraemon representing Samyak Anna (one of Involve’s organising team members) since he was very round and fat. Samyak Anna even brought burgers for us to eat one day. Many similar sweet memories got stored as we went ahead to the end of the project.
When it comes to work, it was a lot of work. Prateek Anna took feedback from us every week about the learners (the students we taught), and trust me, it was a very tough, but yet important task to be done. One day we also got to meet the parents, with whom we discussed the progress of their wards.
All the team members were very friendly and helpful in nature. They even helped us with our own academics during our exam time. Divanshu Anna taught us history while many others helped us in Maths problems. We were more like brothers and sisters helping each other there.
In the end, I would only like to say it is a very kind idea to teach the kids in this way. I wish to continue with Involve if given an opportunity. I also wish to do something similar when I grow up.