Learning for a Reason

Being at the government school this morning I recognized a pattern of passion and determination. The teacher of our classroom was unbelievable with the children. From the moment she stepped into the classroom she had each student’s respect and attention. She was caring and encouraging while still engaging in the lesson and teaching. You could see her passion not only for teaching, but also for trying to improve the lives of these young Indian children. She explained to the students how to apply what they are learning in the classroom to their everyday lives. She gave specific examples on how to cope with the recent rain and contaminated water. At the beginning of class she told them to sing their alphabet song, which they did in unison. She proceeded to explain why the alphabet song was important. She did this for each lesson that she taught. Rather than speaking to the kids and having them simply repeat her words or answer questions, she creates a conversation. In response, the students were just as passionate about school. There were students who spoke and answered questions more than others, but every child was engaged and excited about learning. They felt privileged to go to school and it is something they look forward to everyday, which was a refreshing change.

A broad question that I have is how do all of these curious and determined young students end up dropping out of high school? It is often due to the pressure to work and earn money for their families. Also many of their parents might believe that a high school diploma is worthless and a waste of time. While I understand the answer to my question, I believe that ending their scholarly career is not the wish of many students. Seeing their joy of learning in the classroom made it hard to believe that they would not attend school for that much longer. Another question that I had was how these teachers have mastered their job with so little to work with? In the classroom that I observed each student had a small pile of notebooks and there were maybe ten reading books in the class. The teacher had very few resources that could help her to teach and engage the students, yet she had each child completely focused. She used the power of her words and actions to influence a positive attitude in the students. An attitude that promoted confidence within each child.

I felt inspired this morning by both the students and the teachers. It was a refreshing experience to see children truly appreciate school and the opportunity to learn. I was in awe at how well the teacher conducted the class and how she managed to have the children applying what they’ve learnt to their lives. I learnt a lot from her as well about why we go to school and why we learn. These children who have so little are fortunate for the people in their lives that want to help them. I feel very grateful for all the teachers I’ve had throughout my life and how they’ve all had a role in shaping who I am as a student as well as a person. It is eye opening to watch these children be so determined to get the right answer or learn how to properly pronounce a word. At Phillips Academy I find that students get so caught up in their grades and what the consequences of their grades will be that they forget about why they love to learn and why learning is such an important part of their lives. The experience left me feeling extremely grateful for all of my learning opportunities and it has reminded me to appreciate school, my resources, and my teachers.

- Sarah Humes

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