SCERT kindly- and much to our surprise- invited us to give inputs about street children and children from the slum and our “lecture” focussed primarily on how the temperament of our kids is vastly different from the kind of children that teachers are used to handling, in classrooms. So one of our suggestions was to talk to the trainee-teachers about the lives of slum and street children so that they understand their students better and can then, accordingly prepare and plan their lessons.
Here are a few points that we presented in our lecture:
1. Street children are fiercely independent and are unfamiliar with positive guidance. They have short attention span and are extremely bright owing to the fact that most of them have survived on their own since they were very young. So they will absorb new teachings much faster than regular students would. This underlines the need for creatively planning lessons and using interactive, fun tools like art, worksheets, theatre and music to teach the kids.
2. We stressed on the need for redefining teacher-pupil relationship and to minimize on the time that the teacher spends in one-way lecturing i.e. where children have to simple sit and listen to the teacher talking.
3. We asked that the teachers be prepared for challenges such as point-blank refusal to follow instructions and others. Our children test us- almost on a daily basis- to check our strength and to check if we will get fed up with them and leave.
4. Slum children are more grounded in family life and often parents want their children to study. In case of street children, even when they come from families, they are expected to earn money everyday so school is viewed as a hindrance to this, by their respective families.
5. Children from the slums are more open to discipline and do listen to the adults but only when they are creatively engaged. Mostly, our children will not respond to punishments or authoritarian mannerisms because they are immune to even physical abuse in a lot of cases.
6. In both cases, we suggested that teachers use examples from the lives of the children so that they relate better to what is being taught to them. So for example, instead of saying ख से खरगोश, we use ख से खाना. And in teaching maths, we use coins and examples of buying-selling to teach addition and subtraction.
We did receive encouraging responses from the group who raised several questions about our work and children. We have been invited to now visit the program where the module-developers will present the format of their ten-day teacher training workshop for special training programs. The SCERT personnel have asked for our inputs that may be incorporated on the last day of this residential program to develop the training module.
A little information on the proposed teacher training module:
The ten-day training packages have been developed to contain 12 modules, including discussions on the Right to Education Act, vision under special training and an activity-based session on training methods for targeted children. Each workshop will have 40 trainees and 3 trainers. The target is to open 19 such training centres from where a total of 750 teachers will be trained.