A student who has lost all hope
Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana
We all have come across this famous quote from Bhagwat Gita. We, even as adults, struggle to remember it in our challenging times. To make a child understand and follow this during his dark hour was one of the memorable events of my life as a teacher.
Ishan Sharma (name changed), class- 5, 11 years, a bright student, had a sinking feeling after grossly underperforming in his favourite subject – Physics. It was not just once, but twice and the situation had shattered the boy.
Ambitious students often tend to put their heart and soul into academics, and sometimes it gets challenging to tackle failure, especially for those who haven't tasted much of it before. It seems as if their entire life is pinned on their success as a student, sports person, or anything else their hearts and ambitions might desire. These choices can be either conscious or subconscious because of years of conditioning.
And for a case in point, it was academics for this boy- a science lover. The blow had left him in a state very close to despair. He was on the verge of giving up his dream of being a renowned scientist.
His teachers and parents were fully confident in his abilities; then, what was going wrong?
After having a few rounds of discussions with him, it turned out that there were a few workable reasons-
His writing speed was not up to the mark and needed substantial upgradation.
The ability to sit for 2.5 hours and focus on the same topic had receded.
Now the task was to bring the boy to a state of normalcy and then work on the above. We had to reinstate his confidence that it was not his ability but some technicalities which could be easily corrected. So, I started having daily conversations with him for around 20-30 minutes. Each time I made it a point to narrate an inspiring story of people bouncing back from failure and leaving their indelible mark on the sands of time. I included stories of Edison's 1000 failed experiments before the invention of the light bulb to JK Rowling's 12 rejections to emphasize course correction and orientation to act. Especially during such circumstances, it is essential to check what one sees, hears, and does.
Finally, after about 2 weeks, we noticed a slight shift from focusing on results to focusing on inputs like hard work and systematic work. We also tried to bring him back to playing sports, as this is one thing which teaches children to deal with rejections and failures.
This might not be a unique experience. An umpteenth number of children face this issue, especially after Covid. The past couple of years has changed the lives of many children for the worse. But we must remind them that we are with them in this, and things can be worked on and improved.
After all, it's the small things which lead to the big!
2. A student with no friends in school
"A friend overlooks your broken fence and admires the flowers in your garden" is often said.
Childhood memories are wrought with friendships – the mischiefs, fun and frolic and even those innocent fights. However, not all children are privileged to experience this. A small bunch is left out. Such children could have special needs or might have become socially recluse because of specific experiences.
Learning lasts one's lifetime and has many components to it. Education from friends and peers is an indispensable one. These are intangible yet indispensable.
I had recently encountered one such child- Karan. He has been an introvert from the time I have known him. However, 2 years of Covid and social distancing had made him socially isolated, even mentally. Digital media has replaced real friends and people. He had lost touch with even his best friend.
Once back to school, he started finding it difficult to adapt. He would somewhat be confused and sometimes muse over the good old days when he, too, would play with his friends, but now the iPad was more captivating.
Such situations often go unheeded. However, they have long-term repercussions- like lack of resilience, team spirit, etc.- and must be addressed.
I sensed similar issues like impatience, lack of ability to discuss, taking feedback, and facing a large group of people, slowly creeping into her life and hampering her growth.
The first step was to talk to him, which didn't help much. So, his best friend and I started planning fun activities aligned with the games he liked, like badminton. Initially, we aimed at 20 mins a day. Once we sensed some improvement, we moved on to more creative group activities like flower arrangement and slowly increased the time to 45 mins a day. This is still an ongoing task.
From experience, we all know about children's challenges in post-Covid times.
Even if it is not to the extent of being categorized as a red flag, the warning signs should not be ignored. It will take a lot of time, patience and energy to understand and get to the root of the problem. Nevertheless, let's do it and give our children a holistic experience of life, even outside books, which they richly deserve. School friendships are the most cherished ones, and moreover, despite everything, man is a social animal, and having friends go a long way toward making a fulfilling life!
~Vandana Sahay, Neelima Parmar and Monika Gupta.