The IAAT class is a diverse space with students from various walks of life coming together to enrich the learning experience in unanticipated and spectacular ways. The presence of Anuradha Kishore is one such addition. A graduate of AIIMS and the Royal College of Physicians, London, Anuradha has over two decades of experience as a paediatrician and has been running a private clinic for the past 13 years. Apart from providing an invaluable perspective to us all, Anuradha is thoroughly enjoying the process of becoming a learner again. Here is her story in her words.
What is your life’s dream?
My dream is to work with children who have special needs and different capabilities. I have always enjoyed being around children, working with them and for them. In my 20 years of experience as a paediatrician I received immense satisfaction in terms of helping young beings find relief from their immediate ailments and providing guidance for their growth. But I felt one big lacuna which still needed more inputs from us as child health-care professionals – the field of special needs education. I wanted to contribute to this need in some effective manner. With that passion in my heart, I began my path in the field of education.
I would first like to attain a sound knowledge base about teaching and learning of young minds and gain reasonable hands-on experience of working with children in the elementary years in a progressive and inclusive school. After gaining enough experience of the methodology, content and pedagogy of various parts of learning in the youngest age group I would like to gain further experience in a specialised environment dealing with differently abled children.
Just as we follow the learning approach in Medicine where we first master the normal body anatomy and functions before knowing how to diagnose abnormal and devise an intervention, in Special Education too the first step to learn would be how to detect a problem no matter how subtle it is in the early years and then plan a well-rounded approach to help the child achieve his/her true and best potential.
As the majority of such special children are just marginally away from the expected normal range, with the right inputs at the right time, we can surely help most of them make a significant difference to their lives and attain the required life skills to survive and subsist in a challenging world.
How does being in the classroom help you in what you want to do? What do you feel like you’re gaining?
For the experiential part of my training at IAAT I have been assigned a KG class at Heritage Xperiential Learning School Gurgaon that has 30 students with 6-7 of them needing extra inputs from the teachers at every level. Being there with my Collaborating Teacher and co-tutor thrice a week for the entire school day I get a complete hands-on experience of what steps are needed to conduct a fruitful learning experience, starting from pre lesson planning, co-conducting lessons to review meetings and feedbacks at the end of the day.
Through this process, I have been able to see the various challenges that a teacher faces and needs to handle on a day to day basis while keeping the pace of learning going. It’s heartening to see how compassionately my co-teachers are making sure all the students are gaining knowledge through their own capabilities without missing out on any opportunity.
Being with children in the clinic and in the classroom – how different are they?
It is similar yet different being with children in the context of a school environment compared to what I have experienced before. Dealing with 1-2 children at a given time in a clinic setup where each interaction would last for 15-20 minutes is very different from being with 30 of them together but in a healthier setup where they are bursting with energy and enthusiasm for the whole day.
Now I feel the need to encash on my physical stamina too while keeping my thinking cap on all the time as these children throw a new challenge at you every few minutes.
However, the speed and consistency of attentiveness needed in both situations are alike and I feel it’s a blessing to work with the purest form of beings who are so honest and generous when it comes to giving a positive or a negative feedback!
You’ve been part of this programme for almost two months now. How far do you feel you’ve come as an individual? What kind of growth/challenges are you experiencing?
I have truly enjoyed the journey I have covered in the last 7 weeks at IAAT. It has been an awakening in many ways. I always knew how much I love the company of young children and how much I value what they have to tell the world in their own sweet ways, but I have now discovered how patient we need to be as adults to allow them the time and space that they all need in their own different journeys of growth and fulfilment.
Without doubt I have grown as a person too, grown more expressive, more compassionate, more inquisitive and more at peace with myself and the world around me.
Maybe the path ahead is a long one but I feel I’m not alone. I have my colleagues and friends who are as passionate about making a change to the present scheme of things as I am. Together we will cross all hurdles and find the momentum we need to keep this ball rolling.