Knowledge is a process and not a product

It’s often said that half knowledge is dangerous, and then I wondered, ‘What about no knowledge?’ There are so many amongst the millions of us who have been deprived of the basic tool to express their thoughts and ideas, thereby making them lag behind. The very essence of smartly engineered brains is lost when people are unable to access the internet or television or sometimes fail to understand different languages.  

It was only when this realisation dawned upon me, that I was spurred to take a step towards a better tomorrow. In a ‘Teach India’ campaign carried out by The Times of India, it was quoted, “It is not about how much you know. It is about how much it matters to those who do not know.” This struck a chord with me.  I believe knowledge plays a crucial role in letting one decide further steps in life and also prepares one for life’s unplanned detours.

As an individual I could help the future generation with my experiences and prepare them for a bright future. So I started teaching children studying in vernacular medium schools basic Math and English at the YMCA, Mumbai. Since these children lacked a strong foundation of the subjects, it was mandatory that the learning was done from ground up.

In the beginning, I played many icebreaker games with them to establish a comfort level between us. Eventually, the positive vibes of the children made me want to change the traditional methods of teaching. I resorted to incorporating puzzles and treasure hunting exercises in my class, along with pre-planned skits thereby making them understand the story concepts in their books in a better fashion.

Initially, I struggled a lot to get accustomed to every child’s way of learning, but later it was they who got habituated with my lesson plans and way of teaching.  At the end of every class, I suggested that they read Enid Blyton or Sudha Murthy’s books. In turn, they would ask me to get posters of basketball players.

I seldom found these kids anxious about the outside world, unable to even fathom how they would battle life’s hardships. Right now, they have guardians taking good care of them but later, they’ll have to be on their own. So to help them combat these thoughts, I held conversations with them on breaking stereotypes and doing what is right. With every little bit of advice, they grew a bit mentally and their insecurities were gradually reduced.

Sometimes, just to find out what is going on in the back of their minds, I conducted sessions of abstract drawings and paintings which almost everytime started with demands for crayons and brushes. However, the output never ceased to amaze me. Their imaginations had no bounds. Every kid had his own eccentricities with a different horizon of thoughts, but what made them sit under the same roof was their immense interest of wanting to inculcate in themselves life’s morals and values through books.

Almost a year has passed since I started helping these articulate brains with their studies and realised that knowledge is a process and not a product. Even though the kids couldn’t ace their tests, they were on a better note that a year before, and that sure is an achievement not just for a student but the teacher as well.

Mahatma Gandhi had once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” With this thought in mind, I was challenged every day to be a better teacher and transmit knowledge to its fullness. Teaching is blissful and learning how to rectify little mistakes from them is the cherry on the cake.  Teaching at NGOs not only ensures that proper knowledge is being imparted to the kids but volunteers also gain social skills and an attribute to be added in their resumes.