Human’s recollect:

10% of what we read

20% of what we hear

50% of what we see & hear (Watch)

70% of what we discuss

90% of what we teach

Learning is a lifelong experience they say. They say you die the day you stop learning. Then how does one ever become a teacher? Are all the teachers constantly learning even when they are teaching? And how can the teacher be sure that she is well equipped to teach everything that there is to learn? Is a professional qualification like a BEd good enough to be a teacher? Or does one even need a B Ed Degree before becoming a teacher?

These and many similar questions bothered Anusha and everyone whom she probed her idea. Having been a Kathak student for 9 years and scaled multiple levels of certifications and performances, she was still as her modest self would admit, for from being an expert in the Indian Dance form. But to Teach Kathak? Would she be able to it? Regardless of the level of aptitude of the students and the degree to which they would be taught, the very idea of donning the hat of a Teacher/ A Guru was the biggest question Anusha had to address.

Teacher: student for life 2

In her grade 9 in Pathways School Gurgaon, she had to choose a Personal Project that gives student One Big Chance to do something that bring out the best in the student. Address your demons, your biggest fears, go for something that makes you THINK, do something that requires a lot of effort, either physical or mental, something, for which, at the end, you can write a 100-page report, talking at length about it.

For Anusha, she was clear, there was no OPTION B. She wanted to Teach Kathak to Underprivileged Kids. Students for whom even to attend school is a big deal. To get a decent learning and be able to make a living, is all that they are hoping for. Then where does Kathak have a role to play. Anusha had a clear answer to this. She was going by her own experience of learning Kathak. Kathak had helped her become more expressive, more confident about herself and exposed her to Indian culture and most importantly, stay grounded. She believed while there was a lot of focus on core skills its the learning of a dance form that helps the kids to communicate, to express themselves and bring out their true spirit.

Teacher: student for life 3
Her biggest challenge was to convince her own Guru Neeraji, who herself, while supremely confident about her ward’s abilities, was not sure if it will all work out well. However, once Anusha explained the essence of her plan and the idea to end the course with a stage performance to the parents and teachers, Neeraji gave her the green signal.

As always, the real challenge is in Execution. Anusha to take out time from her own crazy study schedule at school and rigorous swimming practice (Anusha is a three-time Nationals swimmer) to comprehend.

The next challenge was the school where she was to teach, Sankalp School Gurgaon. The Grade 5 students had a strict class regimen during the day and could not stay back after school.

The selection of kids was the next big issue. It would have been a no brainer to pick all girls, who generally have an aptitude for Indian classical dance. However, Anusha was surprised to see that not only were the boys enthusiastic about Kathak, some of them were actually good in the trial dance. After a lot of deliberation, she had got her ten students for the practice.

Anusha took all these challenges in her stride. Going straight from school on Saturday mornings after a rigorous 3-hour swimming practice, eating breakfast in the car, she would reach Sankalp, for a 45mins teaching session.

Teacher: student for life 4

Thus started an 8-month journey of rigorous practice that included theory classes and actual training. It all culminated with a performance and a documentary, which covered the beautiful journey of learning (for the kids) and training (for Anusha).

With the 100-page report submitted a long and exciting journey began for Anusha. Why Began? Because once again, she proved her detractors wrong. The perennial challenge in these Personal Projects is to make the students continue the good work. Once the pressure of the deadline and marks is gone, students become complacent and the project is relegated to annals of history.

Teacher: student for life 5
Anusha, as a Grade 11 student, with an even more demanding study schedule notwithstanding, went back to Sankalp School and resumed her teaching with yet another batch of Fifth Graders. The school was pleased to see this Student/Teacher carry forward the legacy for the new batch. As they say – To do a tough act is good, but when u do the tough task again, you are on your way to becoming great.

Keep It Up Anusha!

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Hetal Sonpal

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