A Quest on Overdrive … :)

An eccentric rambler on life's lessons and mercies, found and lost… :)


12 Comments

Red October

Reader discretion advised, as this post is more or less a vent.

And no it has nothing to do with that wonderful film, The Hunt for Red October, though I must say that it has certain elements of despair and helplessness seen in it, but that film sort of ends well, and that is the hope with which this too is written, that on Sunday next, 1 November, 2015, I shall write of how the acid tests and the baptism by fire went.

October is at once a happy month, mid way, because it is a darling daughter’s birthday, but it is also a month where I tear myself up, lose a lot of hair, to pulling, and to stress. I’ve just come away from a very pertinent read on teacher responsiblity, and teacher health (LINK) and it suddenly came home to me, that YES! the amount of sleep teachers, these days, lose in this month has to be rather catastrophic. Really. I’m serious.

"We're popping bubble wrap because it's cheaper than tranquilizers."

“We’re popping bubble wrap because it’s cheaper than tranquilizers.”

So what causes this? Simple. It isn’t just lesson preparation, though that too is part of it. It is the pressure of grading end of term papers, computing endlessly to decode/encode grades. And no, it isn’t because, like the kids in class, we do last minute work. There really is a need to give of oneself during this month in a way that sometime, to my jaundiced mind, seems like way beyond sacrifice! (I warned you, this is a rant! Do feel free to continue reading 😛 ). Also the happy event of Open House – a free for all session of tirades, smiles, advice, complaints, appreciation, thinly veiled threats, between the stakeholders in the system – takes place around this time. I have a great time at these thingys, though I am sure this isn’t so with many of those in my fraternity. It is a period fraught with foot-in-the-mouth itis – by all and sundry. The takeaways from these sessions range from despair to howlarious laughter. More on that some-day. Back to the Red October.

stressed

What adds to this particular brand of torture, for “teachers” is that this is the season of “fests” – read inter-school competitions. Now, yes, while we have to help our learner group manage this alongside their academics, and let me tell you, they do it beautifully 🙂 , there is the added responsibility of supervising them, at practise, or if you’re interested, training them, monitoring them, mentoring them. This is just one part of it all.

The next part that I shall share has to make it known in no uncertain terms that even though the medieval forms of third degree are passé, they have evolved into other forms, especially for those who work in schools. The rack was one such device, which I do believe has found itself insidiously creeping into the system. While the earlier device was tangible and intensely physical in the way it inflicted suffering, I have discovered the the new one, or rather the revised one makes one spread oneself so thin, stretched in different directions, reaching out to responsibilities that are varied in nature, either self inflicted or generously transferred upon one. At certain points, one isn’t quite sure what one is supposed to do, but with the profound faith in oneself, and a power somewhere that will lead one onwards 🙂 one manages to do ’em all, with whatever degree of finesse one can. The degree of suffering varies, and is usually directly proportional to the level of involvement out of sheer interest or responsibility foisted upon one as a result of perceived or intentional interest espoused in certain areas. (at the risk of insulting your intelligence, I shall given you a simple example. You, as a teacher, like poetry, know how to type fast, are interested in Drama, and have a great interest in music. Western. Somehow or the other, along with the grading, report card work, you will also find yourself mentoring kids in poetry, writing, music and drama, taking class (ir)regularly, and end up with a some position in the conduct of the event. The thing is you love all this, do this, and therefore are spread very thin. The Rack, in action. )

"I'm desperate to hold on to our good teachers."

“I’m desperate to hold on to our good teachers.”

So why the rant? All of a sudden, the D-Day looms. The participants are ready. The schools gearing up. And on ground zero of the event (believe you me, if the event takes place in your home turf, it s no less than Ground Zero- the impact is inexpressibly traumatic 😀 ) the ones up front taking the flak are those in charge of the conduct of the competitions on Stage. That’s right. Stage Duty is a greater danger than Stage Fright. You can run away with your Stage Fright, but with Duty, you gotta stay put, face the fear, dig in, brave it out, and hope to God that you’ll come out of it, wits in tact. The frazzled, hassled, harried lines that etch themselves on your face are nothing. The real damage is done, within. 😀 😀 You’ve got ulcers by the dozen, and several hair roots on the head have sealed permanently. Not to mention the zombie like state that is going to be hard to recover from 😛

It’s going down, this week. Want a ringside seat to the drama unfolding? Come on over, the CBSE Kalotsav, in our District takes place at the end of this week. 28, at our sister institution, 30, 31 at ours. 🙂

stressed5

I got cookies. I will buy chocolate. And I hope it will rain. This is directed solely at the young lady who knows the lines mean something, to her and me 🙂 One of our recitation sessions.

Well, I’m a survivor, and I know that all my colleagues are too. So good luck to us, as we host the show, and to our participants, young prodigies, each of them, for a fine show to put up, at their moment! Please do hold them in your prayers and wish them luck! Go on, bring it on!!

25 October, 2015

The delightful cartoons all belong to their owners, and have been taken from a google search on stressed teachers 😛

Advertisements


9 Comments

The Eternal Damnation of The English “Teacher”

What is it about Teachers
(Especially ones who “teach” English)
I wonder.
You don’t, I know.

I still carry the faith
Of one who loves the language

But

You’ve been hedged in perhaps
By the intimidating walls
Projected by the scaffolding (really!)
Of usage, intent and meaning?
Not to mention the conundrum
Of double negative, double past.

I shall not even go into double entrendes 😀

I totally understand. I do.
Let me elaborate: please.

You say, weird is the language.
I say, weird is beautiful. It has character.
And I shall agree, weird is the language 😀

But it’s in the spaces between the words
The probability curve of putting a few of them together
Creating, experimenting, sharing, attuning yourself.
Those spaces and the breath in between…
The bar is raised when you create- a story, a poem,
A something. Anything.

And then. You hand it in to grade>>>>
By who? Errr… Whom?
(A Quibble there- but not now, let’s not 😛 )

That finds me, sitting in a group
To one side, directed to “correct”, “evaluate”
I’m told.
But that niggling (always niggle niggle, the rebel inside)
Pokes me:
Am I creative? Should creativity be marked?
So, should I, another’s?
Looking around, I wonder, who can?

Ah. The metaphysics and the philosophy is lost on the system.

We’re guided – ably, I’m told, though I hold reservations- by one who can.

Mind you (I have visions of Rajnikanth, and MIND IT!!! 😛 )
She says, to give the marks that are deserving…
Announcing this, holds up one I graded for inspection 😛
Uh oh. “How-not-to-do-it” sample 😛

“Do you think” she archly demands
“This piece is worth this much?”

(I must clarify here- it was merely 6 out of 10
I know! Don’t freak out!!!)

“Yes” I replied, deadly quiet, cool as they come.
Simmering inside. “Yes.”
“You see, I’m the generous kind
The lenient kind, for the Boards!
Else you’ll find I’m terribly mean, most times!”

(I hear you! I heard you loud and clear!
You shouting, She is, she so IS!!!)

Back to the Her.

Such insubordination as to not agree with a Her
Is not appreciated. You understand.
But the rebel inside, ah that rebel.
I did not alter, so she had to walk

Not without reminding of my Bounden Duty
Thou shalt give only deserving marks!
I did not bother to ask her to define “deserving” 😀
Not after she added ” There is no perfect essay or story”
Who wanted perfection?
I looked for pleasure. Joy in expression.
That’s perfection for me 🙂

So what did that rebel inside do>>>

She let it go, and unleashed them marks
For the pleasure of the story-telling,
Like they liked to 😀

The Life of an English Teacher
Most times goes thus.

Damned if you do (Supervisor Spell)
Damned if you don’t ( Student Spell)

You live in Eternal Damnation.
And enjoy it 😀

17 April, 2015

Day#17 of #NaPoWriMo 🙂 A rant on the system, the expectations of both student and grade’r’
The immediate muse being, asked to mark down creativity, when I felt it could not be 😛 😛
Background: The Board now has a 10 mark question in the Class 10 paper, for story writing. Imagine this: how good are you at story writing, even given a prompt? Okay, let me re-phrase it- how much time does it take to create one? Lots na? And kids are expected to write a story, in the atmosphere of an exam hall, which is then marked by all kinds of persons, those who read, do not read, who watch movies, do not, who write creative stuff, and don’t. We’ve been making noise at all the right places. Yet to see something being done about it! It’s fine for group or pair work, but self defeating as a decisive question in a board paper don’t you think?

You see what I mean? This here is rant. 😛


5 Comments

Surprisingly

for all that we speak of, of the younger generation, or what we are fond of dismissively saying, the genNext hasn’t really changed much. Or so I felt while doing some candid assessment over the past month. The stuck-in-the-mud, narrow, conventional mindsets of the generation that is raising them, indeed a conservative community’s ‘traditional’ and ‘ethical’ set of notions has gotten under their skin too!

Assessment of Speaking Skills is a sort of IELTS type – a three stage – test that nowadays students upwards of Class 9 have to take. The final stage of the testing (max 8 minutes totally) is about problem solving, where a situation is given and the pair of examinees have to discuss and resolve the problem in 2 minutes, then present the solution to the examiner, who then asks a couple of probing questions. The intent of course, is just to test the fluency and proficiency, and little has to do with content, save that it is consistent.

One such pair (class/names withheld for obvious reasons 😛 ) were presented the problem where a couple of young girls want to go with friends for a film, but the parents are hesitant to allow them. The candidates were to discuss why this was so, and what could be done. At least 4 to 5 pairs picked this problem, randomly, and the discussion that ensued was frustrating to say the least, mostly because my own personal opinions were to be held in check, and I was to allow the interaction to take place, taking note of content, (not how much it matched MY ideas 😀 ), language range, interactive competence, pronunciation, yada yada… :-/

This pair, and those others, were particularly focussed on this one point that yes, the kids – girls – please note, should not go for movies on their own. They could take their ‘brother/uncle/father/grandfather/some elder “man” ” with them for their protection. Also, parents were right in being hesitant because you know they had every right to be worried for their girls! One of the questions I could not help but put across was, what if these were girls? (and this was NOT in the script of the interview – oh yes, we have a sort of script to follow too- talk of hollow tests! Of course all the same I’m glad they have this test, at least “spoken English” is taken seriously!! 😀 ) To that question was the obvious response- immediate, let me add! Of course the parents would not mind, but girls, you know, they could be –hold your breath- raped. You know, for going to a movie without ‘proper protection’. You simply cannot imagine my utter dismay. I wish I could upload that file I have, but then there are ethics involved!

So, yes, the solution? Go for a ‘noon’ show, with all the family, or brothers/yada yada. I had a splitting headache that day,when I finished with the lot of them. I rather did like the topics given for the problem solving, and hoped that there would be creative solutions, not the usual ones, and that the kids would show that boldness that they tell us they are filled with. But there, even in a hypothetical situation their society, their community, their ‘heritage’ spoke, for them. Maybe, they took the easy way out, for after all, this was just a test and no one would take them to task for the opinions expressed, but for the same reason, I wish they had been actually outspoken and ranted, instead of me ranting here. Sigh. Sigh.

It’s difficult, really difficult to be a facilitator, when one does not really ‘facilitate’ openness in thinking at least through the test. However, the upside was that I got to them later in class and asked them what would actually be different for them, if this is how they thought! I hope that will facilitate some thinking on their part!

Will they think? At least about the movie-going part? I do hope so. And then, go for it. I hope. I do so hope.

21 February, 2015

february ramblings

 

 

 

 

Day#15 of #RamblingsInFebruary 🙂 Catching up 🙂


2 Comments

She walks in … (due apologies to Lord Byron)

She walks in Arrogance, like no other
In climes warmed over by Hell itself
Of self given power, and little honour
All that’s worst -ever- in her, engulf
The little haven, our little heaven, serene.
She, who inhabits it, a dreaded queen.

And all it seems, now, too late to dwell
On the new formed vacuum, that does swell
With rancid aftertaste of a deed most foul
Darker more vicious than Macbeth’s ghoul!

And yet, on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet deadly,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of undercurrents aplenty,
A mind hellbent at war with peace within,
A heart whose love pretends innocence!

31 July, 2012

********************************************************************************************

All due apologies to Lord Byron, who penned this delightful poem, “She Walks in Beauty”, (given below), mercilessly massacred by me above. Had to. Rant day. Sigh.

She Walks in Beauty 

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
2
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
3
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!


24 Comments

Lesson

Disappointment has a rancid taste.
One you don’t expect;
One that will, each time,
Take you by surprise.

No matter that you anticipate,
Expect and avoid, simultaneously.
No matter that you know
It will somehow sneak in.

Contrary as it seems
There is a pattern.

Each time, the same.
The build-up to expectation.
The garnering of shreds
Of feeling, tangible and otherwise.
The neglect of  the knowing.
The  ignorance.

The pattern falling in place.

And you tell yourself.
I know. I knew!
I’ve learnt my lesson.

Ha!

20 April, 2012