These are a few of the delightful children with whom I regularly interact via Skype from Kamala Nimbkar Balbhavan, an unusually egalitarian school in Phaltan, Maharashtra in India…
It’s my first time visiting KNB and I’m excited to meet ‘my kids’ in person, but before the school year starts, the teachers gather for some of their own learning. I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead a workshop here and share learning with this dedicated group. It will be an introduction to the ideas of Ron Ritchhart and Visible Thinking, something completely new for them.
I head into the session far more nervously than usual, uncertain what to expect in terms of their level of English and their openness to different ways of thinking… but mostly concerned that, without being able to understand their conversations, I might not get a sense of what connections to help them make, how to shift thinking forward or what to reinforce.
My fears turn out to be unfounded. There is enough English in the room for mutual understanding, be it via valiant attempts at self expression, translation by those who do speak English or facial expressions and body language.
There are so many things that make this a unique and special experience for me…
I love the way most of those speaking in Marathi still make eye contact with me (not the person translating), and I can sense the passion as they talk about their school, even if I don’t understand the words.
I like the fact that a small sprinkling of English words in the midst of the Marathi, along with intonation and facial expression, are often enough for me to get the gist of what they are saying.
I’m delighted by the fact that when I am talking, even though I know they are concentrating hard to understand me, I can see the light dancing in their eyes, because they are excited by the ideas I am sharing.
I love the warmth with which they welcome me, their obvious desire to learn, as well as their pride in their school and everything it stands for.
I’m humbled by the opportunity to share learning in a context so different from the well resourced schools at which I usually work and to observe first hand that the most important resources are not ones that money can buy.
I note with interest that in this outwardly simple seeming, rural school, powerful beliefs, not just about learning but about humanity underpin every single thoughtful thing that happens. (Read more about it here)
I remind myself again that, even at my age, after so many years of experience, there is always so much to learn…
Tomorrow I meet ‘my kids’!
My first experience of a thinking routine in Marathi!