As a part of our course (bachelors in social work) we were expected, in our first year, to go to the assigned school and thus through the school children connect to the community and work at individual, group and community level. It was a new experience altogether.
I was assigned a school in Bejai, Mangalore. I was quite nervous for I had to be good when I knew that I just don’t like kids. The head-miss welcomed me with the warmth of a mother. And I was assigned class 3. It was the first day and as an ice-breaking session I involved the students in games. The kids were extremely happy and involved themselves in the game very enthusiastically.
One girl, who had come to me, even before I asked everyone to introduce him or herself and introduced herself as Misriya, was too enthusiastic in all the games and did more than what she was expected to. She was so lively that I fell in love with her and her liveliness. But there was no way that I could have given her all the liberty to do whatever she did, for there was a need for all the students to get involved in the game and it was an ice-breaking session and everyone had to come out of their shell. I feared her enthusiasm would snatch the opportunity of others. I asked her to restrict herself quite a number of times. What a lovely and lively girl, I wondered, as I walked out of the school that evening.
Next week, when I entered that class, my excitement of meeting Misriya again, had reached its peak after waiting for a week for that day. I entered the class and after a while the head-teacher came and told me “I was told that Misriya troubled you a lot last week. We punished her for that and so I am sure she will not trouble you again”. I said nothing as I was taken aback. I was sure by then that other students had told the head-miss that Misriya was troubling me. I started wondering as to why they did so. In a while the answer struck to my mind. My repeating of “Misriya, keep quite”, in order to restrict her enthusiasm had given a feeling to other students that I was irritated and troubled by Misriya.
I went and spoke to Misriya. But she pulled herself back. She feared me. She must have thought that I had filed the complaint against her. No tactics that I incorporated brought her back to life. Till the end of that academic year Misriya never spoke to me again and I never saw her involving herself again the way she did, in class.
Her classmates, her head-teacher and I, without our knowledge, had killed the spirit and enthusiasm of Misriya. I still can’t forgive myself for this. I am sorry Misriya and i promise i will try my level best, as a teacher, by profession, not to punish anyone.
09 June 2008