Stories about classroom

A teacher’s response

No, beta, the trees can’t talk and sing, Nature doesn’t invite you in, And the wind certainly doesn’t give you wings! No, no, colours don’t melt, Transcendental emotions you pen aren’t felt, Word in your poems, Are sounds, lines, and curves, Not pillows, crutches and memory reserves. And please, people are people, Can’t see a rose in a person and person in a rose, A void exists only in space, Not in her eyes! Her hair, how can it be like a fall? Her smile like a fresh stream, And laughter like a heart’s somersault? Sorry, beta, but the dead are dead. Their love and laughter, you can’t store, And their memories, time will ...

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For Neelum, life was only just beginning

Neelum sat by the window as rain spilled from an ashen sky. From the window, she saw a little girl, almost the same age as herself, scuttling in the rain with her father. She laughed as rain poured over her and her eyes twinkled happily. Neelum watched the little girl scurry down the street, with her father holding her hand protectively. Tears pooled in the corners of her eyes, and she crawled back into her grief of being an orphan. It was night, and the sky was full of stars. Neelum’s parents still hadn’t come back home. She felt sick with apprehension. ...

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5 reasons why good teachers quit within 5 years

Often a good teacher will decide to leave his or her job after just a few years. A federal study states that up to 20% of certified pedagogues of both public and private schools begin to change their minds about devoting their lives to teaching by the fifth year of their career. According to Richard Ingersoll, Professor of Education and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, the number is actually much higher. He claims that about 50% of young experts quit teaching during the first five years because they are sick of the profession. While the exact number remains to be ...

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10 ‘guarantees’ given by tuition centres that should be questioned

Pakistan is witnessing the evolution of private schools along with the mushrooming of evening tuition academies. They manage to fascinate parents with an extravagant jingle and it has become the biggest educational discotheque where parents gamble, over-invest and most of the times, the results are not quite as anticipated. They all claim to achieve results and they all have different, ‘effective’ methods to help your child ace their way. But how is a parent supposed to know? Are they just supposed to go by their ‘claim’? Here are 10 ‘guarantees’ given by every tutor or tuition centre which must be questioned before any ...

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Five things teachers should never say in a classroom

At school, I was the student that was every teacher’s worst nightmare. I questioned everything, I disobeyed flagrantly, I mimicked and ridiculed my peers but I managed to always do well in tests. My school faced a terrible dilemma while registering me for my GCE O Levels; my disciplinary record warranted a suspension from school but they knew I would secure the grades that would enhance the school’s reputation. In the end they let me register through the school, and I repaid them for the confidence they had in me. Ever since I left school, I have trained many teachers and worked extensively ...

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Aao Parhao – A school is as good as its teachers

Schools are like rivers; even when they are a thousand-years old, the water flowing through any given moment is always new. The irrefutable fact of the matter is that our experience of school, and what our education there ultimately amounts to, is defined by the personalities in our cohort, both teachers and peers, who run the course with us. The traditions and values of the institution notwithstanding, it is the values of those around us, and their immediate treatment of us as individuals, which actually counts in the end. Anyone who has ever been bullied or marginalised at a ...

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Aao Parhao – A lesson less ordinary

My experience of teaching high school students has been rewarding, frustrating and overwhelming – all in one fell swoop. I’ve come to believe it is through teaching that one truly learns. Every year the teacher is a year older, perhaps wiser. The students, however, don’t age. Yet, either through the work of evolution or technology, the classroom seems to fill itself with a batch that is smarter at outsmarting the teacher. The profession, by its very nature, forces you to keep up with the times. And with time, the ways of teaching are changing too. The classroom has become ...

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Aao Parhao – Jo Seekha Hai Wo Sekhao

As part of a remembrance to Robin Williams, I arranged a showing of Good Will Hunting and invited some school friends over. After the movie ended, one of them remarked on the critical role the protagonist’s teacher, Prof Gerald Lambeau (played by Stellan Skarsgård), a Fields Medal winner, and mentor  Sean Maguire (played by Robin Williams) had in his development. “We didn’t have anyone as dedicated as them. Not even close.” I had to disagree and thought back to an incident back in March 1991. The phone rang and my mother picked it up. “Hello, is this the home of Sibtain Naqvi?” a lady asked. My mother ...

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Giving village children a fighting chance

I am from a village in rural Punjab, Pakistan. Like most other villages, my village lacks proper infrastructure. Poor people live in houses built with mud and only the rich live in huge mansions. Children of the rich go to private schools in the city, but the poor parents cannot even afford the heavily subsidised government schools. They are left with no other choice but to educate their children in the village school. Visiting my village as a child, I remember hearing about the experiences of students in the village school. As you might or might not know, schools in villages have ...

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36 A’s or a 4.0 GPA won’t make you a genius

My goal in a classroom setting has been simple; make students as uncomfortable as possible with the content of the lecture. Once they get uncomfortable with the ideas that I float, they despise me, and to prove me wrong they go back home and do research. I have observed three outcomes of such a situation: 1) Students do some research and agree with my views. 2) Students curse me and reject my views outright. 3) Students get confused and realise that the world is complex and requires much more in-depth study. I aim for students to end up in the third slot. What we produce, ...

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