Pavel's Volunteering Report
To: Vinod Meena, Omprakash
I came to India to experience something new but almost everything I found here was beyond my expectations. They say every country has different rules to follow. Well, India has no rules. There is just a rule of chaos. Surprised as a European that they drive on the left side of the road here? Not exactly: they drive mostly on the left side. Surprised that they keep blowing the horns of their cars and motorbikes and wondering why they do it? No worries, they do not know why, either. Surprised that pedestrian crossing begins at a wall and ends at a railing? Oh, you must have mistaken the meaningless white stripes for pedestrian crossing.
Anyway, the main purpose of my mission here was to work for ten weeks as a teacher in Sahyog School run by Mr. Omprakash. Very challenging job. In this school where whole floor of the building is more or less one big room, so classes sit next to each other and disturb each other, in this school where lot of communication is performed through barred holes in the ceiling (or floor, depending where you stand), in this school where students in most classes sit on the floor, in this school where for whichever peculiar reasons children migrate around and get seated by teachers among other classes' students when writing tests, in this school teaching is hard work.
Speaking four to five hours a day including Saturday may be exhausting. And it won't do. You cannot just speak, yell you must. And you still do not have the kids' attention, their world is so full of other interesting things, why listen to the teacher? They can fight, play with their compasses, throw erasers and stolen pieces of chalk...
But in the end, they would listen to you and they would even appear as if they looked forward to the next school day. It is never ending seeking of entertaining aspects in what you need to teach them. If you tell them that they better not mistake aunt for ant, uncle for ankle and but for butt, they seem to remember the words better. If you sing songs to them and make them sing along, they cooperate and enjoy it. If you take calculus exercises as a contest of two students at the blackboard including raising the winner's hand in the end, they are eager to come to blackboard and try it.
It is not most important that they spell every word right and their use of preterit is perfect, they need to listen to the language and try to understand not only the words but also the way sentences are constructed. That will make them "think English". The best way to achieve that is doing something interesting and entertaining with them, speak to them and make them speak back - the rest will come after some time.
Some children are realy talented and diligent. Were it not for this school, their talent and diligence would be wasted. It would be a pity if lack of money stood in their way to education. It was real honor for me to be a part of this project (however exhausting and tiring) for a short time period of my life.
Pavel Novak (Pako)
on April 5, 2012
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