An uncharted path

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It’s not just your students who are there to learn. In learning you will teach, in teaching you will learn.

By S.Akilandeswari

Lesson Plans take teachers to known destinations but unplanned class is what is more exciting as teachers peep into the unknown along with their students. Most often it is the students who take us to these uncharted territories. I would like to share an interesting unplanned class.

I am a teacher of English from India. India is a land of diversities known for its ‘unity in diversity’. I belong to one of the southern states teaching in a reputed school in Delhi. That should be enough to guess how interesting my classes are.

In one of the texts, we have a short story talking about life in a small village in one of the southern states. I being a South Indian could understand the cultural and linguistic nuances mentioned. A lively discussion ensues every time I take up this lesson. 

Students are curious about the ‘unique’ traditions followed in that part of India like people using plantain leaves as plates to serve food on. When we discuss this, I underline how so many years ago people used biodegradable and hygienic resource. Interesting, isn’t it? This is always followed by how our life style has changed considerably and how we are exploiting our environment by the mindless use of plastic and other such non-biodegradable material. This leads us to a robust discussion about thing that can be done to create awareness and changes. WOW! Is how I react when I come out of the class.

As teachers, it is important to have lesson plans and follow them to a ‘T’. As we proceed with the formal teaching, the text throws us many instances to go beyond the text. A question, a facial or oral expression from your students will stop you to answer them. While answering, you tend to go beyond, much beyond. This unplanned discussion or activity throws the doors and windows of the classroom wide open letting in the world into it. This world can be nuances of language such as grammar or vocabulary, traditions and customs, science, history or geography. 

Sky is not the limit here. The teacher is the limit. How far can the teacher go? What is the limit of her knowledge? Can the teacher motivate and encourage the students? Can the teacher be ready to learn and to go beyond the text? Is the teacher ready to accept such opportunities?

What is needed is the enthusiasm of the teacher to flow with the tide. Knowledge and skill of the teacher gives the necessary motivation for the students to come out with discussions beyond the text. Children are like sponge. They soak up information and knowledge. It is for us teachers to give them what they need. 

It’s not just your students who are there to learn. In learning you will teach, in teaching you will learn. What best way to go than the uncharted way!