“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?