Gowri Ishwaran is an innovative educationist with over 30 years of experience in leading schools in India and has been awarded the Padma Shri for her work in education. Her talk was on Developing Empathy in the young. To be a teacher is a privilege she says, to be able to influence the lives of so many young people. Teach young children compassion, consideration, kindness. Sensitise the children in tolerance , respect and integrity. Teach them to say thanks. Teach them to help. Give them ethical dilemmas and discuss them. What will you do when a friend is cheating? One exercise she suggests at the beginning of a class, get them to appreciate the people who serve them This calms them down and centers them. Don’t tell children what to think . Ask questions that make them think. For example —- What do you think the pouch of the kangaroo is for? What is the difference between Gandhi and Sharukh khan ? Mrs.Prema Rangachary, who is the Director of vidya vanam is obviously a very empathetic person. She stressed the large role that a teacher plays in the life of a child. A child has to feel secure, cared for both at home and the school. Parents and teachers together can transform a child. And if possible, the teacher should connect to the parent to understand the child better. Teachers have to be role models and to CARE a lot for the child. Just a smile, a look, a tap from the teacher is enough to convey a message of caring. A teacher has to recognise the talents of the child. Caring and nurturing have to be communicated to the child.
‘What we need at all levels is a give and take, an understanding of where ‘the other’ comes from. It requires recognising that relationship between the teacher and the student is a two-way street. It is not just the student who learns from the teacher. The teacher also has a lot to learn from his/her young charges.
And we, at Siragugal, as volunteer teachers realise this in every class. We are learning and growing.