Creating a fine balance in the society!

I had been into few years of teaching when the bomb of accepting ‘differently abled’ students into our classrooms was hurled onto us. We were not prepared for it and we knew it would cause upheaval in our lives. But whether we liked it or not, we had to be reluctantly part of Inclusive Education program in the regular setup.

Like others in my league, I was already neck deep with planning and executing activities, teaching, figuring out the nuances of CCE, providing personal attention to few students who weren’t performing well, giving a patient ear to those who were lost and uncared for at home. And now, this additional task of not only accepting differently abled/special needs children into our classrooms but also to make special provisions for them in the form of ‘providing buddies’, ensuring their work was done and lastly setting customized papers for them.

How did we respond to this – true to our human nature…we initially rebelled but when we realized that the concept was here to stay, we accepted it with defiance.

I was perturbed by the additional work that would have to be done on a regular basis. But more than that I was concerned about the emotional and psychological impact on these children and their impact on our normal students. The specially abled students are generally characterized as annoying because they tend to repeat certain patterns which are not palatable to a normal individual. I was sure they would be bullied, looked down upon and teased frequently.

But I must confess that I was wrong!! Rather I am glad that my hypothesis was proved to be invalid. I had incorrectly assessed the situation and unnecessarily doubted my innocent students. 

All through the years since this concept was introduced, I have noticed that the kids in every classroom have without any inhibitions accepted the students with special needs. In every classroom, when asked who would volunteer to be a buddy to these students…there is always an overwhelming response. Almost every child in the class is ready to help them with their daily activities and assignments at school.

The ‘buddy(s)’ takes care of most of the needs of these students. Escorting them, tracking their written work, sometimes completing written assignments, ensuring that these students eat their tiffins in company of 2-3 other students, providing emotional support, informing the teacher when the child is unmanageable…all this and much more!

We adults have mental blocks; the kids do not. The children are free of prejudices. They embrace everyone with own arms and big hearts. It is we who corrupt them with our ideologies and regular conditioning. 

I have come to realise that ‘Inclusive Education’ is the best way to bring the children with disabilities and special needs into the mainstream. Since the students are exposed to them through classroom interactions, the former are accepted as a part of their daily lives. Every child learns to be patient and compassionate towards the needs of every other individual in their surroundings thus creating a fine balance in our society!!

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A closer look at the visibly invisibly world…in the garden

Being a Gerald Durrell fan has changed me as a person. Even if I want, I can’t ignore the life throbbing and creatures scurrying around me.

Gerald Durrell was a naturalist who wrote many books on every living creature on the Earth. He later established a zoological park and a wildlife conservation park in Jersey.

In a garden, you would notice a flower blooming. You would look at its colour and appreciate the beauty it adds to its surroundings…right? You walk away and I enter the arena. I look at the flower, I then take a closer look at the same flower…and what do I notice…there are numerous insects at work. The flower is pulsating with life and energy.

Some of the insects like the honey bee, are taking in the nectar from the flower. On second thoughts, you might say that you too had noticed the honey bee…we’ve all studied about it and identify it with a blooming flower.

But I look more closely and I see the minuscule ants scurrying around to gather the honeydew and the remains of other insects that were lured into submission to the blooming flower. A Chinese grasshopper was perched on the leaves, merging impeccably with the colour. Though I needed a second glance to notice that a sentient creature was there…it wasn’t so for the grass spider who was eyeing it as the next delicacy to munch on.

As I moved further in the garden, I noticed the red cucumber beetles on the flowers, sucking the nectar and munching the crispy leaves, oblivious to the fact that they were annoying humans by this act. The aphids brought about the same reaction from the humans while they were leisurely sap sucking from the plants. The ladybug caught my eye. It feeds on the aphids so humans’ love for ladybugs is but natural. There were Asian lady beetles, melon flies and thripse in this foliage of plants and grasses. These are those creatures who caught my eye. I am sure there are many more species taking cover and thriving in these ecosystems.

I bent down to check on the life on a marshy patch in the garden. It had so many more bugs and insects constantly at work. I peered at the few pond snails hanging upside down on the blades of grass, trying to shove off the heavy burden they carry on their backs. The bagworm moths were silently placed like a statue amongst the blades of grass, watching the drama unfold in their daily lives. A bold jumper on the other had was running around to do its errands, in a hurry to do them lest he invite the wrath of his wife…hehehe! The jumping spider and the wheel bug were in equal hurry to complete their chores before the day ended.

The insects, worms and bugs might not look as attractive as the butterflies and the honeybees and that’s the reason why God hid them behind the curtain of leaves and flowers but this invisible world is always at work, teeming with energy, working in the background, scavenging, cleaning or helping in pollination. Whether we are aware of their existence or not, but this seemingly invisible ecosystem is important for our sustenance. I have learnt to appreciate it and thus sharing their it with you! You need not to love them…just appreciate them for their importance in our lives.

A few more insects and worms…around us!