1.6 In a Class Of Their Own !

Part I

We are a class of sixty girls and boys and we are ALL friends.

 Of course it’s true that there are camps amongst us and sometimes we do have quarrels, arguments, fights – everything! But when it comes to facing others, even the teachers, we are all one. We face them together.

If you see a whole class being made to make three rounds of the school ground or copy a hundred lines from the book as a punishment, it is most probably us. But we do not tell tales about anyone – girl or boy. We take the punishment as a class.

And guess what happened this year …

We were used to teachers shouting at us for poor marks, shabby work, incomplete homework, not attending school regularly and all the other things that teachers worry about. But we didn’t mind it. It made no difference to us. We all liked our class the way it was. We were, in fact, quite proud of our class.

 – And so was our new Class Teacher, Mrs Desai. She said so in the very first period. She said, “I have heard about you people from your last year’s teachers, and I am proud of you. Unity is a very important quality and you must always maintain it. I am very happy to be your Class Teacher.”

Did you notice what she called us ? It’s very interesting. It’s never ‘children’. It’s always ‘girls’, ‘boys’, ‘you young people’ or ‘my dear’, or ‘young man’, or ‘young lady’. You feel so nice when she says, ‘Now this young lady will show us how to do it.’

We all liked her very much.

Soon it was time for the first unit test. After the test, we all got ready to receive our usual share of scolding and punishments. But when Mrs Desai came with the progress report cards, she didn’t look angry. She was rather quiet. She smiled as usual, but her eyes didn’t look happy.

She handed out the cards one by one. Many of us had failed in one subject or the other. Some had not appeared for the test. A few had got good marks in some of the subjects. Very few had done well in all the subjects.

“So that’s that !” she said after handing out all the cards. Suddenly, her eyes were filled with tears. She didn’t let the tears fall, of course. She just blinked them away and turned to the blackboard.

“Are you angry with us, Madam?” someone asked.

 “No, not at all.’’

“But, ….. you don’t feel proud of us any more ….” Sushmita said in a low, soft voice. “No, Sushmita, you are my class and I will always want to be proud of you. Come on, now, let us go back to our studies. Take out your books.’’

We waited after school and talked about this. “Did you notice what Desai Ma’am said, Asmita?” asked Snehal, “She said I will always want to be proud of you. She didn’t say I am proud of you.”

“What do you expect?” I said, “So many of us fail. So many miss the test. How do you expect her to be proud of us ?”

Part II

“But this is really too sad,” said Akash.

 “We must make her proud of us.” “But how ? What can we do ?” asked Sunil.

She won’t be happy unless we all do well. Do you think that’s possible ?”

And then suddenly it clicked. “Yes!” I said, “Why not ? We will make it possible. If we all work together, we can do it!” “Right!” said Akash. “Let’s do it.” So the next day, we (the whole class) sat together to discuss the ‘Plan of Action’.

 We all agreed that those who get good marks should help others. “That is all very well,” said Niyati. She is the maths genius in our class. “I have tried to help before. But no one is interested.

 They don’t want me to help them.” “Perhaps you are too bossy,” suggested Soli.

“We have better things to do after school. Who wants to sit and do maths!” said Nilesh.

 “You can help by giving us the answers.” “See what I mean!” said Niyati. “And they are both way behind the class in maths.” “This will not do,” said Akash. “Do you think Desai Madam will be proud of a class of copycats?

You must study till you understand your maths well. It’s a rule, and you have to follow it.” “And what if they don’t ? And there are many like them,” said Niyati.

 “I have an idea,” said Soli. “Let some of the students work as our ‘Searchlights’. They will visit us at home, talk to us every day to see that we study.”

“And what if we have difficulties ?” asked Nilesh.

“Let us also have ‘Study Guards’ like Niyati who will help us out of our difficulties.” “That’s a great idea,” said Sunil. “Let’s have Study Guards for every subject.”

 It didn’t take very long to identify the SL’s and SG’s. We put the PoA in motion immediately. We did this without letting any of the teachers in the secret. We wanted to give Mrs Desai a surprise. But she is really too good. She spotted the change within a week.

 “Something is at work in this class, I am sure,” she said, “No one is ever absent.

 Everyone pays attention during lessons. And I see a different look in your eyes. Something has happened.” So then we had to tell her. She was really impressed. “You people are really amazing ! What wonderful ideas! Such determination ! There’s no other class like yours.”

 We felt so happy we were on cloud nine! Every one of us began to try hard, honestly. And you will not believe this, but we were actually all quite eager to take the second test and get the results. This time when Mrs Desai walked in with the report cards, she was all smiles.

 She congratulated each one of us, personally. However, there is one last thing which I must tell. We had hoped that we would all do well. Many of us did do well, but alas, there were still some who got poor marks, and some had even failed. So then we all began to feel crushed. Naina, who had got a red mark in her card couldn’t bear it.

“I have let the whole class down,” she sobbed.

But our dear dear Class Teacher went to her and hugged her.

 “No, Naina, you haven’t let anyone down. Look at your card. Last time you had got only two out of fifty in Science and this time, it’s sixteen. That’s quite a leap. You have started off in the right direction and I know you will keep it up. I am proud of you, each one of you.

” Can you guess what happened in the next test ?