Saturday, September 25, 2010

Environmental Education

Every time during the examinations, we students grumble incessantly about E.V.E. Everybody has the same complaint, “This is such a BORING subject! What good does this do to anyone?” Even teachers do not like E.V.E. much. They teach it because they don’t have much of a choice in the matter. For sometime now, I have been wondering about this myself. I have been trying to jot down a few points in my mind that would justify the existence of this subject. But then, I cannot think of any reason other than that it is supposed to make us aware about our environment. 

I suppose this reason would have been good enough if a lot of positive results could be seen since the introduction of this subject in schools. However, I do not see how this subject has been helpful in forming a better environment. There haven’t been many noticeable changes around me whose credit would go to E.V.E. I can vouch for my town in this matter. There are still many unattended garbage dumps, and the students still don’t hesitate before throwing their chocolate wrappers on the road. In almost every E.V.E. class, we learn about the harmful consequences of plastics, but hardly anyone refuses a plastic packet when shopping. Students still forget to switch off fans and lights while leaving a room, and a running tap is a very regular sight everywhere. Even people who score above eighty percent in E.V.E. do not stick to the rules and safety measures that they had learnt up during the examinations. When it comes to practice, those rules can be shot to hell.

Even the teaching of this subject is done in a bland stale manner. In every class, the chapters are read aloud, sometimes by a single girl, and sometimes by the entire class in unison. E.V.E. is one of the most popular classes when it comes to dozing or completing homework of other subjects. Every year, we have the same lessons. Apart from a few new terms, what we learn is the same. There is such a lack of new lessons. We do not do much of practical work in this subject. The best that we do is make clay models of ecosystems, or write about the types of pollutions and the ways of reducing them. In our school, we have a ‘Spice Club’. Only girls of classes nine and ten are allowed to be its member. It is supposed to be an environment awareness club, but we never seem to see what they do. Nothing noticeable happens, or at least we never come to know of anything done by them.

If the board removed this subject all of a sudden, there would be quite a lot of celebration among the students and the teachers alike. I suppose there was a very noble idea behind the introduction of this subject, but the idea doesn’t seem to be working out. It has just become a useless load for the students and teachers. In any case, I believe that the most important environmental awareness lessons are learnt at home. If the parents do not bother about keeping the environment clean, and if they are not keen on making sure that their children do the same, no amount of E.V.E. at school could make significant changes in the child’s character. How can anyone expect a child whose parents regularly waste water, paper and electricity to be an environment-friendly person?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

On Teachers’ Day

Today is the fifth of September, an important day for teachers of India. Teachers’ Day, celebrated on the birthday of Doctor Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan is a day when students are supposed to show their respect and love to their teachers. Most schools celebrate this occasion with a nice blend of cultural programs and speeches by the teachers. Our school is no exception. Teachers’ Day is one day we look forward to with excitement. About three weeks before the occasion, the girls from class ten get allotted to different classes and take the responsibility to stage some kind of a program with the girls of that class. Those three weeks are invariably great fun for us. We skip classes and run for practice, and hide when the principal comes to look for us, and then go stealthily back to class and make up all kinds of cock and bull excuses, and have a whale of a time! The day of the program is usually a mixed bag of anxiety, excitement, happiness and sadness about the fact that the day will pass very soon. Undoubtedly Teachers’ Day is the best celebration we have in school, and only Children’s Day comes anywhere near it.

However, something else has been going on in my head. In spite of all the dancing and frolicking around that we do on Teacher’s Day, how many of us feel any real respect and gratitude for the teachers? Like any other occasion, isn’t Teachers’ Day a mere excuse to avoid work? While staging the programs, how many of us really think about whether the teachers will like it? The truth is, teachers are usually bottom of the priority list when a program is planned. And this is not something happening just in our school. I have friends, both boys and girls, from various schools around the town. When I mentioned Teachers’ Day to them, all of them started talking about the dance or play they were going to stage, because they themselves had liked it best, and the picnic they were going to have, and the various ways they had planned to entertain themselves. Not one of them told me that they were putting up something that they hoped the teachers will enjoy. I must admit, even when I was planning my class program with the girls of class ten, we decided to do something that the students were going to enjoy the most. We did not spare much thought about what the teachers were likely to feel about it.

The same thing goes on when it comes to giving presents to teachers. Most of the students who give anything to their school teachers or other tutors do it just because it is the tradition to do so, and not because they really like that teacher. Students are more bothered about what their friends will say if they give, or don’t give a present to a certain teacher. I have seen girls in my school competing each other about how many teachers they had given gifts to. It is all about winning and losing such competitions, and not about real affection or gratitude.

All said and done, however, can we put the entire blame of such behaviour on the students? Aren’t teachers partly to be blamed too? After all, teachers play a major role in forming one's character, and maybe the children are just learning from how teachers and other elders behave?