"What is wisdom?"

During class today, I took the third graders outside for a breakout session. Manisha and Sapna had requested yesterday that I teach their class something, and after debating between English and Environmental Science for a while I decided instead to talk to the students about something completely different -- wisdom.

Wisdom, or "gyaan" (ज्ञान), is the first word of our school's name ("Wisdom House"), and I think it's very important for students to understand the different between knowledge and wisdom. So this is what we talked about today. You can see the beginning of our conversation by watching this video.

I then asked them a question to get them thinking -- "If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?" -- knowing fully well that we would soon get off-topic in a way that would allow me to work with them in a counseling capacity. Sure enough, we got from reform to who-beats-up-whom-in-school, and I had two quarreling young citizens do a role play activity to examine how they could better settle their differences.

When it became clear that a little skit probably wouldn't be enough to make a lasting difference for Sunaina and Santosh, I dismissed the rest of the group and had a chat with the two of them and their "mediator" friend Divya. What came out in the talk was that Santosh thinks it's funny to hit Sunaina as a joke, and Sunaina retaliates by cursing him out and saying really hurtful things about him. I believe we made some good progress today (Sunaina apologized and Santosh accepted, though with some hesitation; Santosh promised to find better ways of having fun with his friends and ensuring that they are enjoying his games too, Divya is going to help them both keep track of their goals, etc.) and the three left happy. What is so rewarding about this process is that by the end of it, I may have prevented these two kids from growing up into a physically abusive husband/father and a verbally abusive wife/mother. That's what I love about working with children -- one has a chance to guide them while they are open-minded and pure.

When I tried to take a photo with these three, the rest of the class of course jumped in, and here was the result:

Since the other students had now been let out of class, we played a massive game of Duck, Duck, Goose in the park before some of the children had to go home. I brought the remaining students back inside to play Follow the Leader. But when we came inside, Miss Gurpreet told me that some of the neighbors had been complaining about the noise level during our class periods. I gave the students a grave lecture about how it was of the utmost importance that we play our game quietly today if we want to be allowed to meet for our daily program.

What happened next blew my mind. The students tiptoed up the stairs, snuck into the innermost classroom, and sat down, quiet as mice. I can't believe these were the same students I had had to chide about "talking while others are talking" this morning. The students who usually cause the most ruckus became the arbiters of the peace. The volume threshold was several decibels below what would have been more than decent under the circumstances. If anyone talked above a whisper, he/she was harshly admonished by his/her peers. It was incredible. Kids can be quiet!

It's little things like this that I call progress, and that give me so much joy that I never want to leave here.

1 comment:

maninder said...

What an inspiring story! That's called Making a Difference - one child (in this case two children) at a time!