Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Noisy Children

“My children, jump, run and play and make all the noise you want but avoid sin like the plague and you will surely gain heaven.”  This is a sentence that I used to hear again and again during my youth.  In those days I was a member of a religious congregation founded by John Bosco (Don Bosco, more famously).  Later I left the congregation because I lost faith in “sin” and a few other religious concepts.  But I still believe that Don Bosco was bang on the point about the rights of children to jump, run and play and make all the noise they want. 

Education is not about keeping students quiet in the classroom or even outside.  I have often wondered why children should keep quiet in the dining hall, for example.  Yesterday when a quiz was being conducted in the class (9) in accordance with the activities prescribed in the textbook and recommended highly by CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation), somebody from the administrative wing rushed into my class saying, “There’s too much noise in the class.”  It is only then I realised that my boys were a bit too enthusiastic about the quiz.  Too many hands were springing up with each question rather noisily with the refrain, “I know, I know.”  The scene is the delight of any teacher.

Of course, it is also a teacher’s duty to see that other classes are not disturbed.  If I did let my class disturb other classes then it’s my mistake.  But then why do CBSE and the government insist on conducting so many activities in the class?  Can teachers really conduct all the prescribed activities without any “noise”?   Is silence a virtue for children?

I think it is the classrooms that need rearrangement.  There should be enough space or other arrangement which will ensure that the “noise” made in one room does not affect other rooms.  Otherwise the classroom will be just another traditional classroom with a grim-faced teacher and more grim children.  Lifeless.

“We need the courage of Don Bosco who was not upset when the noise of his children upset the tranquillity of his villages,” said the Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on the occasion of Don Bosco’s death anniversary this year.  Don Bosco was driven out from many places because the people hated the noise made by his children, mostly poor and abandoned ones who relished to love and security provided by their patron.

The education system today has wonderful plans and vision.  On paper.  Translate them into the actual classroom situation and the teacher will see administrators running in with the stick.  The stick is raised against the teacher, however.  Children cannot be punished, you see.

About a year ago I met a friend who is a Don Bosco priest.  He narrated to me an anecdote from the life of Don Bosco.  When a bishop who was on a visit to Don Bosco’s place complained about the noise of the children outside and requested to remove the children from their playground,  Don Bosco chose to remove the bishop from his room. 


Should the classrooms be removed from the administrative block?  Or vice versa?

28 comments:

  1. I have many friends who passed out from Don Bosco and everyone have a broader view about life. No doubt, it's among the top schools in India.

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    1. I'm also a beneficiary of Don Bosco's educational system.

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  2. Children do make noise when they are excited and it is so natural. I too belonged to a class in my higher school very next to ad block and every now and then faced the consequence of shouting.I have wondered why even on breaks we are supposed to be so quiet when other classes had fun at that time. So for your question, it is better to have classrooms with active kids a little distant from the ad block which is beneficial for both of them :)

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Uma. But unfortunately I have no choice in the matter. Otherwise yes, it would be beneficial for all the 3 parties - that is, the teacher included :)

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  3. Children's make noise and it is pretty natural..And one can't do anything about it..Making noise is their way of expressing so we can't stop them from expressing.. :-)

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    1. What is childhood devoid of some noise and fun?

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  4. A nice and thoughtful post as usual sir. Unlike you, I completely agree with the lines you have quoted, : "My children, jump, run and play and make all the noise you want but avoid sin like the plague and you will surely gain heaven.". It is only the definition of sin that needs to be thought about and reworked upon.

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    1. I don't disagree with you, Adarsh. What I disagreed with was DB's way of defining sin. Rather, the Catholic obsession with sinfulness and guilt... Anyway, that's a different matter.

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  5. yes cbse's policy is a total failure if the activities are done with lifeless people, i rather say living dead students and teachers, the confirmatory springing of students hands is the biggest delight of a teacher; which shouldn't be and musn't be curbed coz it is rightly said they must be allowed to express however they want

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    1. For that you need a totally different design of classrooms; traditional classrooms are adjacent rooms which cannot afford to produce much noise.

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  6. Really our education system needs a change...but more than that we have to change our way of pursuit toward the education...because we are the one who have to bring down the change..!

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    1. A lot of emperimentation is taking place in the school education sector, Namrata. Unfortunately nobody seems to have a clear idea of what the outcome is supposed to be!

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  7. Both children and administrative blocks have their own rightful places. Both need to understand the value of the other.

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    1. Precisely. Students may not always possess such understanding, however. So the practical solution is to provide the necessary distance between the two.

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  8. I wish I had a teacher like you during my school days.. well narrated. .enjoyed a lot..

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    1. Well, I'm flattered. But ask my students whether they like sitting in the class :)

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  9. The school is trying to make him an introvert and the education system is trying to make him an extrovert - the poor kid is caught in between.

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    1. Yeah, there's a kind of trap. Agreed. The trap seems to be closing in on people involved...

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  10. Wonderful point of view. I agree ! Children have the right to be children and not become mini-adults

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    1. Thanks. Children should grow naturally into adulthood.

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  11. Yes, children should make noise and be happy. But only at the appropriate times and places. Nowadays, I see children turning any restaurant into a play ground and harassing other patrons while their parents merrily eat their dinner. Classrooms and home are kept quit while public places are abused by them. I guess if they are allowed to be themselves in the former places, they will respect the latter ones?

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    1. I don't rule out this extreme, Pankti. It worries me too. There are many occasions when the children of today fail to understand when to be serious and when to be light-hearted...

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  12. Everything in right proportions can make wonders.

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  13. I used to be talkative during my schooldays.But to my wonder, I rarely utter a word during college hours nowadays. Maturity is something we attain naturally;not forced upon

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    1. Of course. A certain degree of levity is an integral part of childhood. In fact, that declines gradually, becomes less in high school and much less in senior secondary classes. It's fairly easy to manage senior secondary students than younger ones. So in the college the lecturer's job is much easier.

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While having a frugal breakfast of dosa with chutney, I watched my wife’s face.   Pain was writ large on it.   Two days of struggle ...