Steadfastness

There are a set of schools that work in April & then close for a couple of months. Another set of schools close in April and May, and reopen in June. Most schools have a period of time before and after their vacations when teachers come in to plan for the ensuing year, and students are not present. Schools prefer to engage teachers on Professional Development related activities during these times. This means, the requests for workshops and discussions with teachers peak for us during these months. Add to this the fact that we are ourselves preparing for the fresh academic year around this time. New people are hired, teams are restructured and annual plans are made. All this makes this a very busy time of the year for us. It is another matter that we keep saying to each other, during different period of time in the year, that ‘these are busy times’. And then we wonder if there is any time which isn’t!

On such a day in the warm month of May, some of us had gathered together to work on some critical aspects, although it was a holiday. We had discussion after discussion, on varied topics – starting from core academics to teacher development to business goals and what not. It was well past the normal end of working hours, and many of us were tired after long hours of intense, exacting work. While heated debates continued, some of our own tempers were bordering on frayed.

“You are diluting ideas and compromising on quality,” I was told.

On the face of it, it was to me a serious allegation. I did not immediately react to it, and in that sense, I let it pass. However, it came back to me later, once I was home and relaxing. I suppose that means I couldn’t really let it pass. The comment either presumed an undesirable intention on my part, or a lack of capability to discern what ‘quality’ is and therefore compromising on it, or perhaps both of these. Neither seemed like a fair assessment, even given how I am usually one of the most self-critical persons I know of.

Later, when I really thought about it deeply and in a more calm state of mind, some things became clear to me. I was pretty damn sure that no malice was meant nor was there any personal enmity. I have written earlier about how Chitra pushed us to do better. She is a treasure trove of ideas, many of them unimaginably far-reaching. That said, she wouldn’t just throw ideas at us, but sit down and make things happen, get her hands dirty, so to speak. On reflection, I realised that I on the other hand, tend to get bogged down with the thought of making these ideas work. In my anxiety to do that, I often get coloured by reality and my mind asks questions even before ideas are analysed thoroughly. Unbeknownst to myself, I was perhaps rejecting some of these ideas and settling for the second best. In doing so, I was short-changing myself and my colleagues. And that remark, rude as it may have sounded, was a wake up call that I needed.

If we imagined education to be about creating a better society, there is no doubt that it is a utopian endeavour. After all this thinking, I felt grateful grateful to Chitra, for reminding me, that it must indeed be so especially when it comes to our work. For that is what defines us, and that is what truly sets us apart – what we call ‘Living Well Education’, at EZV.

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