Life Lessons from a Classroom in India

The article that follows, from Teachers of India, struck a chord with me today. I stumbled across it because the author had kindly linked to an article I wrote about promoting reading in the classroom.

Teachers of India – The Reading Corner

The first thing that made an impact was the low-tech but excellent strategies. The school, in an area of Northern India with high levels of poverty, was encouraging reading by setting up a reading corner. They’d encourage community members to clip stories that were interesting and pin them to the board.

This whole practice helped the children develop a habit of reading, sharing information and becoming aware. It also enabled children to get familiarized with the way news was written in the print media. The focus, though was more on general knowledge rather than just the news. The activity created an interest and awareness among both teachers and students.

Sometimes, in our first world rush to bring the latest innovations in technology into our classrooms, I think we forget these simple but important strategies.  However, with or without technology, the practice of finding information that interests us and  sharing  it with each other is a very 21st century skill. 21st century capabilities are being encouraged and taught well in this school.

The second part of the article that made an impact on me was the story of the girl who copies out stories from classroom books after school.

She is writing down the whole story because she has younger siblings at home who like to listen to stories. Her family doesn’t have access to books, so by copying the whole story she gets to read it out aloud and share it with them!

Meanwhile, in the community I work, where our students have an endless supply of books as well as online texts, I wonder how often they share their favourite stories with their family or friends. Reading is often a solitary rather than a shared experience. I love the simple act of caring and generosity expressed by this student, who gives up her time in the afternoons so that she can bring stories home to share with her siblings.

It makes me wonder if, living in such a prosperous community, we sometimes lose sight of the value of what’s in front of us.

With a new year coming up in two days perhaps its time to think about some resolutions. I have two in mind after reading this article.

1. Share generously and often.

2. Slow down, take stock and start appreciating all that I have.


2 thoughts on “Life Lessons from a Classroom in India

  1. Vanessa Hiser says:

    Lovely insights. Thank you. I agree that we are a bit too caught up in the technology at times. Are we scared we’ll be seen as ‘old school’ if we use paper or oral based activities? Some students in my year 4 class were getting a little bogged down in the amount of information they were sourcing. They’d already formulated their inquiry questions and automatically grabbed the laptops in a mad panic in case they missed out. I explained that sometimes, where the books were available, it can be more efficient to think of an index as Google! The simple, easily accessed information from the books prompted them to higher level thinking which they then followed up on the net. It’s a strategy which definitely resulted in better quality information.

    Sent from my iPad


    • Hi Vanessa, thanks for commenting. I think you may be right – sometimes I do feel as if I’m not doing the right thing when I go old school like that. Really, it should be about using the right tools for the purpose, but I do feel pressure to use tech, even when books may be more suitable some times.

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