Thursday, August 20, 2009


Schools need rules and Karuna Vihar is no different. Here’s one of them, depicted here in words and pictures:



Be Quiet.

When our advisory committee came through a few weeks ago, this was one of the things they took exception to. It bothered them to see the traditional Indian directive to children so prominently displayed in every classroom. “Don’t think,” it seems to be saying. “Don’t speak up. Just watch and learn. We don’t need your contribution.”

But in KV, that's not actually how it works.

A few days after the Advisory Committee, I went to the school to take some photos. When I arrived, there was a meeting in progress. Seven or eight children were sitting on the verandah with two of their teachers planning the show for our Independence Day celebrations. The kids had ideas, the teachers had ideas and sometimes the excitement go to be too much. Several children talked at the same time and no one could understand anything.

That's when the rule would be invoked. All that was necessary was for the teacher to point to the pictures - those familiar drawings remind the children that for a discussion to work, it's important to watch the person who is speaking, listen to him or her, and wait for your own turn patiently.

It isn't always the teacher's turn, which is what I think the Advisory Committee was worrying about. It is just as likely to be a kid's, or an assistant's or maybe, just maybe, the Executive Director's.

Any rule can be abused. It's possible to make the Letter of the Law into a God while the Spirit gets forgotten. But at KV, I find that spirit is one of reflection and thought and it guides decisions and actions. The rule serves a purpose, but no one is too attached to it.

The Advisory Committee bringing it up served a purpose too. Because they asked, we re-visited our initial decision to create the picture-rule in the first place. We discussed it and analysed it and came to the conclusion that, at least for now, we need it.

It's a process. and the questioning and reconsidering is part of it.

1 comment:

Deepak said...

Looks like the pictures can be arranged the other way round .. Keep Quiet, Listen, Look and Speak .. in that order.