At the end of a Hard Day’s work at college as students (with our lives being made miserable), its our turn to play Teachers. So at 6 p.m., Swapnil aka Neo takes the initiative by giving missed calls to everyone which means ‘Come to Lecture Hall, quick’. When we actually reach the “Masti ki Paathshaala”, some of the children are already waiting eager to learn or maybe eager for the chocolates! While most of the kids used to come on their own, some younger ones had to be picked up from their homes and moreover they used to take their own sweet time getting ready for school (like we do for college).
By around 6:20 the class picks up steam and is on in full swing. The intuitive and intelligent pose a variety of challenges to us so called teachers. Firstly, it necessitated that each child receive personal attention based of his/her current level of education and nature of the child. Hence we evaluate them according to his qualities and abilities and, accordingly adapt our methods of teaching them. This is especially the case if a student gets a new teacher or teacher gets a new student on a particular day. Secondly, it is quite challenging to teach multiple children simultaneously. If a teacher is teaching two children at a time, and if one of them goes away in a fit of playfulness, by the time he or she is under control, the other one seems to have vanished. Thirdly, we have a term known as mental fatigue (something which we get within 10 min in our college lectures) which sets into the children usually after an hour of class such that it becomes quite difficult to teach after 7:30 p.m.
The most amazing part is that considering the variety of students present, the assortment of topics going on at any moment is quite remarkable - ranging from the basics of ABC’s and 123’s to complex words and mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division all done in 3 different languages (English, Hindi and Gujarati) according to the requirement of the child.
But perhaps even more amazing is the time after 7:30 which is the favourite time of the day for all the students (both school and college going students). We make Education Fun with several games aimed at deep rooting the stuff learnt earlier in the evening and also just for FUN. Some of the most popular among the kids happen to be Dog and the Bone, Blind Man’s Buff, Snakes and Ladders, Numbers Grid and Ring-a-Roses along with the daily dose of running around and swinging on the favourite banyan tree and many a times on us too.
No day can be considered over without chocolates of course and these kids turn out to be more than equal to any Blackjack dealer when they say “Double or Nothing”. We here get the chance to drill in some good manners like learning to say your name, telling “Thank you” (which they sweetly pronounce as 'Thanku') when someone gives them something and also to throw the wrappers in the dustbin.
Finally comes the time to say goodbye. The older kids take up responsibility of accompanying the younger ones home. While some want us to accompany them. The red carpet is rolled up for the next day and we go back to our rooms, tired but satisfied.