Learning to Unlearn|Jun 19, 2011 11:27 AM| by:

Who’s Teaching Whom?

I washed my cumbersome long hair in the morning. Since, it’s still wet, I walk into the school with my hair untied. As I pick up the glass to go to the juice counter, Appu of Orange Group, all of seven years, passes by with his glass and remarks in passing,

“Hello, Cleopatra!”

I look around, there’s nobody else standing. I deem the greeting is intended for me. How dare he! In a formal school I probably would have pulled him up for such a remark, though I have to admit that I’m more amused than offended. Anyway, I could certainly do with a glass of juice to swallow this comment down!

I am struck by the number of comments I get from various quarters in the dining hall itself. “How come you’ve left your hair open today didi?” Another little one strokes my hair and says, “Oh didi, you have such long hair!” Divya, of the senior group comments, “You change your style every day.” That’s true; one of the beautiful things about my school Mirambika is that you don’t have to fit into a set role – either of mannerisms, or clothes. It’s okay to be what you are. You can be natural and comfortable – not outrageous. I can stride in wearing a comfy T-shirt and cool pajamas with chappals on my feet, as today, or formal attire.

…Later, in Orange Group, I ask the cheeky (or so I thought) boy just why he called me ‘Cleopatra’.

“Because of your T-shirt”

I look closely at the T-shirt I’m wearing. It’s white and has a line-picture of an Egyptian court-scene. This is the first time I’ve observed the picture carefully. Really carefully.

“But how can you say that this figure is Cleopatra, it could be anybody?” I heckle him mercilessly.

“Well she wouldn’t be sitting on the throne then” he explains the obvious.

I look closely. Yes, the figure seems to be wearing a crown too and is being offered a goblet of wine. It definitely seems to be an Egyptian royal figure. I have to admit Cleopatra is not a bad bet at all… Strange, that all the time we think it’s we who teach children. In times like this we realise that it’s the children who are more advanced and are doing the teaching inadvertently.

(Harvinder Kaur began her journey in education because it made her heart dance! After a regular job for some years, she worked as a volunteer in non-formal education based on Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy which was for her a turning point. An avid writer, she writes poetry, articles and stories on education and spirituality.)

  • http://Website Madhava Rao

    truly educative with a great message.

  • http://Website Madhava Rao

    This is truly educative with a great message.