Present Sir! Absent Sir!
The first day of the school after a long weekend…A quick headcount reveals that twenty students have come to school today. Ms. Kapoor starts the day by writing the time-plan on the white board. “Children! Take out your log-book and write the time-plan.” It is so obvious. Twenty minutes into the zero period and Bubbles is looking outside the window. Her log book isn’t even open yet. But that’s not the only ‘problem’. Jimmy is walking around in class and refusing to sit down in one place. Janet is humming a sweet melody to herself. The sight of the sand trickling down in the sand-timer is more captivating than the blue marks on the white board. Ms. Kapoor doesn’t know what to do. “It’s like they are not even present!”
What makes a child truly ‘present’ in class? Does putting 20 growing minds in the same room mean that each mind is being nourished? We as educators and parents have to ask ourselves- is each child being ‘included’?
All children learn. However, all children learn differently.
Great explorations begin when we as sensitized teachers, parents and educational leaders acknowledge, accept and respect that each child will bring his unique experiences and contribute to the learning environment in his own way. Great learning also happens when the teacher recognises each child’s inherent strength and weaves the learning goals to address the child’s learning needs.
Inclusion is a challenge. It is different from integration-where extra adaptations help the child fit into the classroom. References are made to ‘overcoming problems’ and ‘acquiring functional abilities’.
However, inclusion talks about helping everyone. It talks about modification and change in teaching-learning process (through adaptations and strategies) that support the success of each child. In short, when we include all our children, we are in fact, celebrating their diversity.
We grow with our kids. We learn with our kids. Teaching them helps us learn. Nurturing them makes us good educators. It is through good teaching-learning practices that we realise our three loves: love for learning, love for learners and love for bringing the first two together.