As part of project to train teachers at a reputed school, I had just finished having an intense conversation with an English teacher. It had ended on a note where the teacher had resisted and refused to believe all children are capable to think and frame answers of their own. She had finally stood up and said in exasperation ‘Show it to me’.
Next morning I had entered the fifth grade, glanced at the kids and told the English teacher to assign me her worst student. This is how Tanishq came into my life. The teacher asked the students to write the first question from the chapter she had taught the previous day. Instead of writing the answer on the board, as per my request she asked them to frame the answer on their own. The students looked here and there, not being used to this kind of freedom. I declared to the class that the first question will be answered by Tanishq.
Blood drained from his tiny face, his fingers trembled as he held his copy and stood up. I made him sit down and gently repeated the question to him. He was too nervous to think. I calmed him down by talking in whispers, urging him to answer. In broken English with many grammatical errors he spoke one sentence. I guided him to frame it correctly. It took us full ten minutes to get the first sentence right. I could see the whole class was getting impatient. I demanded attention of everyone saying you all got to understand the process of framing answers. The next sentence took us another ten minutes. Practically in the whole class of 35 minutes we could answer only one question. The teacher had a smirk on her face in a way saying ‘See I told you it won’t work’. As of me, I had seen Tanishq smiling at his copy and that was enough for me. The entire exercise was repeated over the week.
Next week one day I had randomly entered the fifth grade. The same teacher had moved on to another chapter and had asked to write an answer. The students excitedly raised their hand.
This time the teacher looked at me and smiled. Till date when I get disillusioned or doubt at the power of a teacher, I remember Tanishq and thank him for making me believe in the ‘no-limitness’ of children.