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Big lessons from a small-town teacher Nirmala
Ajit Balakrishnan, Founder-Rediff.com, writes how Nirmala’s innovative teaching method taught her students the values of life.
by Ajit Balakrishnan
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Founder, Chairman and CEO of Rediff.com
Let me recount a story, How I became a short story writer by legendary Malayalam writer SK Pottakad.
An incident that took place when I was in high school, set me on the path to becoming a short story writer. One day, as I was doing my homework in our bungalow verandah, an old woman groped her way up the verandah steps with one hand, and in the other she held a dirty envelope.
She kept the envelope on the table, sat on the floor and told me her story. She had worked many years as a domestic servant to give her only son a reasonably comfortable life and to pay for his education.
Eventually he got a job, fell in love with a girl he met at work, married her and set up a house - but without his aged mother.
She concluded, now he does not like the sight of me. Please write about all this so that my son will change. I felt sad at this poor old woman's condition and started writing letters to her son on her behalf. In these letters, I started adding a few things of my own besides what she told me. After a few months, her son began sending her a little money without his wife's knowledge. I am not sure, whether he began feeling guilty on his own or whether the embellishments I had added to her story made him feel remorse.
The son even visited his mother once and asked her who helped her in writing these letters and when she told him that it was me, a schoolboy, I felt a thrill. That old and almost blind woman was my first teacher.
Now let me tell you why the story cropped up. Three years ago I read a report that despite its near 100 percent literacy rates, Kerala is still not producing enough high school pass-outs who meet the eligibility criterion of admission into engineering colleges. One day, my wife, who's a teacher, said, 'Why don't you start an annual award scheme to encourage innovative teachers?'
The idea was to look for passionate teachers, who would make the teaching and the learning process, more exciting. The project took off from Kannur, a small town located on the west coast of India. It also happens to be my hometown, where I lived until I was 15 years old.
In the past two years, we awarded teachers who taught topics like value of numbers, the meaning of angles and other math concepts to children in the most creative manner, thus doing away with rote learning altogether.
But this year's prize for the High School Category was an eye-opener. The Prize Winning Lesson Plan in this category went to a government school teacher Nirmala who inspired students by the story
How I became a Short Story Writer
She took her students to meet the inmates at a home for the elderly in Kannur. They spent the day understanding why they lived here and not with their children. Listening to their stories, the students gathered that a society, which does not look after its elderly is not a civilised one.
Hearing how this teacher, from a remote, small-town government school, used Pottakad's story to teach children the real values of human life, taught me what real education was all about.
Subroto Bagchi, Founder, Mindtree
5 stories of struggle and sucess!
Sketching in the coal mines
Grit and Chemistry in her DNA
Dreaming in the lantern light
Tilling land and dreams
Creativity knows no barrier
: December 02, 2009
Apr 30, 2010
Thanks sir for narrating the story of old women...
arpit goel |
Mar 13, 2010
Well said it is: Education is what remains when everything we have learnt at school has been forgotten
Sachin Bhatnagar |
Jan 13, 2010
Hats off to that lady teacher as well as you Sir to acknowledge her way of bringing change...
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