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Help One Another To Grow

Purva Grover

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15th-Sep-2020       
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Forgive the cliché, but in this new normal I am compelled to quote the African proverb: It takes a village to raise a child. For the uninitiated, it is used to convey the message that the entire community must interact with children for them to grow. Pretty much, what is happening in 2020. Look around, we've once again joined hands, albeit on a few occasions out of lack of a choice (and reluctantly). Yes, the responsibility of a child's upbringing is being conjointly shared by the government, principals, parents, teachers, school staff, siblings, nannies, grandparents, neighbours. You get the drift. We're all in the soup, and holding one another's hands to well, not drown. The government continues to make informed decisions to keep our children safe, just as they go an extra mile to provide us with means to make the best of the academic year, or whatever is left of it. Serving as role models, they've been leading us all, just as they've been reminding us to follow the precautions. Of course, at the bottom of everyone's efforts, ideas, and experiments is the well-being of our children, which is worth a standing applause.
Let's look back on the past few months, when the ways of imparting education had to undergo an overnight transformation. We were anxious. Would it work? The Internet connections were boosted, furniture was moved to set up the 2020 classrooms, and lessons were draped in more interactive, engaging outfits to assure all the involved parties learnt as they now looked into a screen. As we continue to learn and unlearn, it's interesting to note how conversations around children's education and upbringing at large have changed.
What started as parents initially being unhappy at paying full tuition fees and yet forced to play co-teachers at home, has now led to memes on how they need assistants to read up all the e-mails and links the schools are sending them as the schools resume. It's also led to honest realisations for some parents, who for the first time are observing that their kids are good at spellings, but not at Math, or are shy in the classrooms, but vocal with their peers. Teachers as they conduct classes are now being watched by parents, and are under pressure to please them as well. They're being scrutinised and appreciated. Interestingly, we're making note of the fact that the educators are humans, too (their kids are at home, too), and recognising how many of them go beyond their line of duty to teach a child to write on the rules or take part in an art competition. The teachers and parents may become friends soon. The school principals are dancing on videos to welcome the students, and are working longer hours to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Also, it is worthy to note how each member of the family has come to the forefront to pitch in. Elder siblings are helping (nagging) the younger ones to finish their homework, when parents are on Zoom work meetings. Grandparents, the favourite storytellers, are not just reading stories, but also helping with school projects, assisting in uploading assignments as PDFs and JPEGs on Microsoft Teams, et al.
We're all complaining and overworking, but it is beautiful to note how we are understanding one another's role and saying, "Hey, 'I've got your back." What warms my heart is how, unknowingly, we're raising children, who're absorbing the emotion and fact that it is normal for us to pitch in for each other and work as a team, despite our egos and constraints. Here's to a village, where we help one another grow.

(Purva is a journalist, poetess, playwright, and stage director. Email: purva@khaleejtimes.com)

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