Sunday, 14 February 2010

Reactions

''She makes me go past my comfort zone. How do I deal with that?''

Nope. This isn't about a male-female relationship. On the contrary this is about a student at the institution I was teaching at...

I was proctoring/invigilating an exam. The group seated were ladies from a bunch I had taught for 2 weeks, in a session past; disturbing bunch of ladies who were often a subject of woe in the staff room. My collegues had -a time or two- mentioned a lady with apparent mental disability, who I had'nt come across during my time with said bunch.

On this day, during the exam, in walks a lady about 15 mins late, signs her name in, and sits down to write. I kept watching her, because she kept looking to her left and right, without craning her neck in any suspicious manner and she kept smiling, grinning and sometimes silently laughing (which left her shoulders shaking). Eventually, I realised that she was'nt writing anything, and she often stared at the empty corner of the classroom, laughing silently, or would suddenly make a blank face only to then again go back to smiling. Sometimes she dropped her pencil, sometimes she flipped the exam sheets back and forth, and this went on for about 2 hours. When about only 30 minutes were left, she began writing, asked me a question in quite a normal manner, and then went back to partly writing and partly continuing on with her outward facial antics that appeared all kinds of abnormal. Around an hour or so after watching her so, I had begun empathising in deeply painful ways - thinking about this really pretty girl who sort of appears completely normal to anyone/everyone, until being with her for sometime and realising otherwise, wondering about what kind of life she and her family had. Teachers in the staffroom had mentioned how she had been sitting with this class for around 3 or more years now, and they also voiced their inability to comprehend why the institute let her sit, exam after exam, when she clearly was'nt cut out for it.

That day(of the exam), I figured, if everyone knows she isnt normal, and she isnt actually disrupting a class, then what really is the problem? Why cant we just accomodate her, as long as she isnt requiring of us anything extra? Also, what kind of blew me away was how this one teacher came back to the staffroom after another exam day, a few days later, all riled up and saying she can't stand her, how she laughs and doesnt write and she feels she is a clown being made fun of...

I thought to myself , ''WOW''! [Do not miss my sarcasm here btw]

We are about the same age. How was it not obvious to this collegue of mine, that this student isnt mentally alright. That she isnt laughing at us, or anyone else, but at apparently empty corners, perhaps even imaginery things/beings/friends - Who knows, right? Its like dealing with a child. If she isnt writing, why push her? I mean, personally, Id smile back or perhaps encourage her politely to write. I did that during the last few minutes, when I was proctoring/invigilating her class. Why would normal, able teachers, with all working mental faculties push an obviously mentally disabled person to do what normal people would do? Am I expecting too much of our human reactions?

Reminiscing of this student made me wonder about how others would react to a similar situation, if faced by people/a person who are so, without being given any warning, and would have to interact with them/him/her. What would you do? How would you react/behave/interact? Im really interested to know...

4 comments:

Faraz Haider said...

I would just observe
and do what my heart
says

Hayaah said...

Hmm... and that was exactly what I did do :)

Have you ever taught in a class room setting, btw? Just curious to know...

Fariella said...

apparently there isn't much information or training given out to teachers and others on how to deal with persons who have disabilities. there's an emphasis on social appropriateness and cultural sensitivity but not much on disability training.

here in the US, things are far brighter in this regard. when i enjoyed a brief stint with tutoring, i had to undergo a month of disability training and it really opened up my eyes. i wish the institution where you're at will take this into consideration. perhaps you can make a suggestion?

Hayaah said...

Hey Fariella! Welcome to the blog! :)

As for suggestions... sadly this place is derelict as far as administration and suggestions to better are concerned. They're running on threads and im just here until my kismet sends my way something worthy, iA. I had posted this on naseeb as well. If u find the time, go thru the comments on that JE, with other teachers who are on Naseeb. U'll find more of the ridiculous details about the place in comments exchanged there, that I wont go into details here, because they are just that many!

Anyhoo... a system that refuses to hear from its pillars, that is the teachers, that itself doesnt even respect the teachers, is bound to run itself in, eventually. I just pray that Ill find my own niche, before that, because im done wasting my sleep with this place after months of working with my conscience. Its just really not worth it in the long run.