Soniya from Class 6th, walked in with the notebook, asking for help. ‘Methi ke Baare me baatao.’ Tell me about Methi. I stood in the playground watching kids play hopscotch and took some time to evaluate my knowledge on Methi.
Methi is green. It’s a leafy vegetable. I couldn’t think beyond the color and the category. Defending my poor knowledge on Methi, instead of helping, I questioned the purpose. ‘Why do you want to know about Methi?’ ‘I need to write Methi’s autobiography. Methi ka Aatma Katha,’ she said, waiting for an answer. Can Methi have an autobiography?, I thought. Wondering what this little kid is up to, I put my confused expression.
“Ye lo, Ye pado,” she said. And gave me Methi ki Aatma Katha.
Still, in the process of reading Hindi fluently, I took time in reading and I enjoyed reading a text from Methi’s perspective.
It reminded me of Gulzar’s words on mountains.
I never wrote from such a different point of views during my childhood. I enjoyed reading Methi’s autobiography. I liked the idea. If children are given such interesting and curious assignments, children may explore the joy of writing.
‘I do not know about Methi much but, you wrote well. One and half page seemed to be enough. What more do you want to write.’ I asked.
“Bhaiyya wants me to write more. He said, ‘Ask your family members, ask other teachers, you’ll get more to write.’ I asked my family members to tell, they in return question me, ‘You are going to school. We never went. We don’t know what to write about what things.’ ”
We opened the phone and checked out and realized Methi has many names, a name in English as well. I shared the English name with her. She noted down. Looking at my phone, she observed the time and said, ‘It’s time, we need to go to class, come Bhaiyya’ and left.
I was grateful to witness the ease of asking. To ask is the sign of intelligence and strength. At many workplaces, many of us feel insecure and low confident to ask what we don’t know about. And also the attitude, ‘I know it all,’ deprives us from learning.
Kids do not think much about asking. Their curiosity and passion for inquiry drives them to seek help.
‘Ask doubts if you have?’ is an easy statement to say but the patronizing attitude would not help children to ask the questions or help again.
To provide a safe space to express their doubts and ask for help, serves to create a learning environment in and out of the class. Easier said than done, the solutions need to be articulated.
Many of us debate about kids asking stupid questions. Telling the students to stop questioning may not be the solutions. Assisting them with the routine of visible thinking may help them to broaden their inquiry skills.
Back to the ‘asking.’ Glad she asked for help. Hope she also doesn’t ask out of pressure to finish but ask out of curiosity to explore the perspectives in writing.