Class struggle

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- Rishi Ram Paudyal

Aug 29, 2018-

I’m sitting at a university library after many years. I have been to different libraries, and seen lots of books. But just looking at books does not change you much. Neither does it enrich your knowledge. To benefit, you have to go through the books. As for me, books have always scared me. 

As far as I can recall, when I first went to school, there were no benches or desks. There were a couple of logs on which we would sit. There was a blackboard, and the classroom was dusty. Further, teachers entered the classroom looking angry with a stick in one hand and a piece of chalk in the other. As little kids, everybody was afraid of the scene. We were probably more scared of the ‘teacher’s weapon’ than the teachers themselves. With the chalk they wrote Nepali vowels, consonants and numbers. We had to repeat loudly after the teacher. After some time, it was the students’ turn to repeat the process.

In those days, it seems that the teachers didn’t know that different children could learn differently. They couldn’t have known terms like auditory learner, visual learner and kinaesthetic learner. There were a couple of things the teachers expected from the learners, and the obvious ones were to sit quietly without fidgeting and to listen to the teacher attentively. If anybody became restless in the classroom or moved their limbs here and there, they were going to be in trouble. The teacher would hit them with the stick or tweak their ears violently or make the student sit and stand up many times. There was no guarantee that the student would get only one punishment. It all depended on the teacher. Some were kind and gave just one punishment while others, ‘a bit more generous’, applied all three.

Later, when we were given books published by a government institution, another ordeal would begin. If any child couldn’t read properly, the teacher would roll their eyes and asked the students to hold out their open hand towards the teacher. The hands had to be straight. Then the teacher would hit hard. If the student cried, he could get another beating. The students had no choice. There would be no place for complaints. There was teacher’s autonomy but not learners’ autonomy. There were no child rights. 

But today, things are very different. Children are treated better as compared to those days. But how about me? Have I changed now? I wanted to see for myself. So I started to read a book, but could not go that far. My past dragged me behind and the image of the book looked like a ghost. It will take a while before I get over the ghosts of my childhood and read freely without any fear.

 

Published: 29-08-2018 07:42

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