Preparing the Children at Spiny Babbler

by Anuttama Sharma

On Tuesday, 8 March, 2016, I was called “Teacher” for the first time ever when the students of Spiny Babbler asking me my name, addressed me so. I had gone to Spiny Babbler in order to assist and guide the students prepare presentations for the Genius Event. Only a little way into each of their presentations, I could see that they were all very talented. Content of most of their presentations exceeded the level of knowledge and ability a student their age would normally be expected to have, by quite a margin. Abiksha at 8 years, knew of all the chemical elements in the periodic table, and each of their symbols and atomic numbers. In addition, she could play 11 different tunes in the flute continuously for about 30 minutes.

Also, the students were very attentive to the feedback I gave and sincere in working them into their presentations. Nitya and Pukar, who were both very good in answering mental mathematics questions, usually took time in forming questions on the spot (which was rather strange as it was not the answers that they had difficulty with). After providing them a few suggestions, they took on to themselves to create an underlying structure to their questions in a manner that the they were fresh but easier to ask. If they went blank at any point, they would still have another basis of forming the required questions in time.

Another thing that was very impressive and pleasantly surprising was that when the students who finished preparing as per the feedback, or had nothing else to do, didn’t just run along and play unlike a few other children I have seen. In fact one of the students, Sanjeev, who did not have any task at hand and was actually ill at the time, innocently came up to me and asked, “Teacher, what should I do?”, when he saw me assign other students some additional tasks.

In the few hours that I spent at Spiny Babbler, I could see that each of the children had their own distinct personality: Kusuma was a bit shy, Shaswat more confident, they were all in all intelligent, helpful, sincere, hardworking, and an extremely friendly bunch. And the time I spent with them, therefore, was a refreshing, new and a positively unexpected experience.

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