Christian Long

Shukla Bose: Teaching One Child at a Time

In TED Talks on May 12, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Extra credit reflection by KATIE R.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Shukla Bose:  Teaching One Child at a Time

Watching this video made me realize how truly fortunate I am.

I live in a country where education is seen as a right and not a privilege. With the exception of a small percentage of our population, every child in the USA is afforded an education. It is up to us to choose when and how we make use of the opportunity we are given. It had never crossed my mind that in today’s time there could be countries where one’s economic status placed limits on educational choices and, in turn, ones entire future, I constantly hear how in order to be successful you need to have a good education. More and more importance is placed on getting a college or higher degree just to be competitive in the job market of today. Education, I believe, is but a rung on the ladder to success. In order to start the climb, however, there needs to be a ladder. Shukla Bose is trying to provide the ladder to the children of India and in the process is giving them and their families hope for the future.

I was amazed to learn the staggering number of Indian children living in poverty on the margins of society along with their parents. There are countless children who live an uncertain future with no prospects of surpassing their circumstances. Facing such overwhelming odds, Ms. Bose methodically went about tackling a problem that was not only lacking student participation but low teacher turn out. As she stated, she came from a corporate background and that may have served her well in the organizational approach to the problem. Not to be done in by the “numbers” game her solution was to start small and build on success method. She systematically brought down the myths that children raised in poverty are not smart enough to master tough subjects and that parents of these children were holding them back from learning. By building schools in the midst of the slums she brought the option for learning and a better future to the very heart of the problem. These children were caught in the same cycle as the generations before them. It is very difficult to see change when you are in a situation that seems hopeless. Ms. Bose came in and gave them hope. They were no longer forgotten and lost; they were now being engaged in a challenging course of studies that could one day see them rise above their own poverty. The students’ mothers who were interviewed gave an insight into the change the school had brought about. Children who previously thought they had no future were now thinking about careers and the world surrounding them. It is not, as Ms. Bose said, the buildings nor the teachers that are necessarily important, it is the atmosphere of learning and possibilities that open young minds to the passion of expressing their inner creativity. I think that by bringing the schools to the slums and not taking the children out of the slums, Ms. Bose has made all the inhabitants feel respected. She is giving the parents the chance to participate in their children’s education and as she stated, 80 percent of the parents are actively involved in the schools. These parents want their children to be successful and have a much better life. These students are eager to learn and to teach. They, in turn, take what they learn and pass it on to their parents.

It is amazing that Ms. Bose has come such a long way in just the few years her organization has been in existence. Her goal to make her students competitive in the global economy goes far beyond teaching them English. She teaches them self-respect, self-discipline and above all the desire to reach for their dreams. By allowing them to dream she can one day hope to break the cycle of poverty and ignorance that holds people in a state of hopelessness. As she has given to the community, she has received the reward of seeing the beginning of a new confidence within the slums of India. She is seeing change happen- one child at a time! We should be aware of how privileged we are and make the best of what we have and not take it for granted. Even though I shouldn’t, I’ll still complain about school because in our society going to school is the rule, not the exception.

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