Voices resound in my head all the time. I must listen. I must share. In the past few weeks the children at one of our MOP sites have said so many things, oracy in our sessions is coming alive and this is what they say:
“ Teacher, you remind me of a book .” and my head is spinning, which book, why and then Azhaar with a gleam in his eye says “ My Mother’s Sari” – this, because I am wearing a sari to class but more because we have explored that book so intimately at MOP.
“ I raise my hand you never ask me”. And my head hurts from not seeing that often we cannot listen to 40 odd voices respond to one thing at the same time and even when we try classroom protocol, it fails because my eyes only see some and not all. I try now, to improve my peripheral vision and capture the hands in a wide arc to give turns, to hear voices.
“ A rat bit me at 4. 00 am last night” real not imaginary. What do I know about these children, what do I understand? So many books we read have rat/mouse characters represented as adorable furry creatures that do magical things, create, write draw.. What does a rat mean to children who live amongst them and get bitten by them!
“ Teacher said ‘ji’ to me” . In my own organic Hindi I asked a child to move back to make place and I was struck by how the usage of the work “Mohitji” meant so much to him! I forget too often that language is so loaded with class and caste markers and I have the opportunity to remind children that we are equal with the smallest of words like ‘ji’.
“ construction = banana = kela = apple” Where are we going with this association? Only when I realised thanks to Riz that the children interpreted ‘banana’ the Hindi verb as banana the English noun, did I figure that we were moving far away from the theme of our story – Alphabet Under Construction.
“ I came back to say bye” said Nargis. The session was long over and Nargis came running back, thinking she forgot something I asked,what happened and she said “I was half way home and realised I never said bye to you, so I came back to say bye. “
“ Fiza, I got an ID card” said Aftaab. To see him happy to be included in the group, after weeks of waiting for a spot was pure unadulterated happiness. The ID card as a marker of inclusion, identity and group size control has been one of our better ideas on this program and it is wonderful to see what it means to the children vis a vis MOP.
“Chimbel has lots of ‘chors’, I am not a chor” said Rohit as he returned his pencil to the box. This comes on the back of us losing a lot of stationery at the site. When we address the group as a whole talking about returning material to the box and taking responsibility, we must remember to not reinforce stereotypes the children might already hold .