We were just about to finish our unit on Poetry and so my students started to write their own poems, applying what they’ve learnt about the unit. One of my students decided to write a poem about what the youth of India wants or aspire for. I feel that I keep on trying my best to consistently consider my students’ perspectives about many things and consistently learning and applying the theories and teaching practices on how to have a student centred environment. As I brainstormed and planned with Thea, I thought that despite my continuous effort, I know I haven’t heard everything yet. And so she went…
“I think the kids of India want to feel that they’re important. This means not to be ignored, and to earn the same respect, meaning ‘equal’ with adults. Not just in the way of greeting, but in the way of talking with each other. Be allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. To let them rise up by sharing their ideas. To have a place in everybody’s heart.”
Having to hear this made me feel relieved as her words just validated our practices in the IB PYP. This is a perspective of what a ‘kid’ in India wants, and it might be true for the rest of the 40% of India’s total population. We can also assume that this might be true for the rest of the youth around the world. If we don’t care about what they aspire for, then we can all assume the tremendous mistake we are making.
I am fulfilled and blessed to belong in an educational organization that encourages students to ask questions, allowing them to make mistakes along the way and supporting them to learn from them; considering students as major collaborators and making them responsible for their own learning; allowing and accepting them for who they are, and making them the heart of the learning community; giving them the voice and the choice, and empowering them to use them in order to help make a difference.
But the matter of fact is, you don’t have to be a PYP teacher to do all these. You just have to learn how to listen. You just have to value the youth. You just have to let go of the perhaps ‘old’ perspectives about children. You just have to accept that it’s now a different world and it is alright to be different.
I am not perfect in the classroom and in life, and I know I would always fail. But despite the challenges I face as a teacher, I’m happy and confident to say that I can sleep well every night, thinking that somehow I am doing something right.