Tuesday, 27 February 2007

The calculus of food

So this is a question I am unable to resolve myself, so here goes.

We teach some school kids for an hour daily. They are from a local municipal school. Under-privileged if I may use the term. Very little parental attention. On many days it’s a most rewarding experience, on some days its damn frustrating. The kids don’t pay attention, they loudly have conversations about all nature of things, one of them starts singing. We use various measures and counter-measures to maintain some level of discipline in the class, and get some progress on the curricular stuff. That’s all cool. We are finding our space.

There is one kid in particular that is lean and hungry. The other day I caught him almost falling asleep at his desk. And I was standing right in front of him. The room is quite small. We are usually two adults so we are sort of all over the children. I decided to give up on the class and just chat with him. He woke up and we talked. Turned out there was no school that day. No school meant no mid-day meal. Really. Though he tried to deny it, he was tired from hunger.

Now I know this is a matter of widespread debate –lets call it “Can multiplication tables be a good substitute for lunch?” That is all fine. Like in any good debate, there is enough to say for both sides. But now here is my quandary. I know its unfair to expect miraculous magical progress when they are hungry (not all of them are hungry, some are constantly chewing, some really nasty coloured candy and what not, and seem to have enough money for another round of it when the class finishes), but if there are a couple of kids that are hungry, that is enough to make it a bad thing.

  • So we could give them food before starting the class. Is that reasonable? Should we consider it time well-spent? (not worried about the money spent). What should we give them? They don’t get milk at home, should we give them a glass of milk? Who will boil it and how to bring it over? Should we give them bananas, they are filling and healthy? Should we give them normal coloured chocolates? They are easy to get and will be loved by the children, and will arguably give them energy.
  • Should we turn a blind eye, maybe change the timings of the class, and continue with original plan of multiplication tables and animal names and composition? After all, that is our strength, you know, Math and English and what not. We can focus our efforts there and let someone else worry about food, hunger, and deficiency of vitamins.

I am very tempted to figure out some healthy snack to give to them at 4 pm. After all, I am also starving at that time, and might be in better mood overall if I ate something. But sometimes feel like in the 15 mins I will spend on this, I can get through some more material, and they are already so behind on the expected material for their class…




csm said...

tfeed them please. if they are in morning school, they are eating MDM at 945am. would reach home at 100pm and likely that 10% of kids dont get a lunch at home.

bananas are good idea.
you could want to rotate it a bit with peanut chikki, butter biscuit, naan kattai. no milk.
trick is easy to eat, non messy and quick to get through.
the 10 mins spent on this is going to help you get thro the tables much faster that without the feeding.
you could do it also as a post clas snack. the overall nutrition may help in their concentration in class. and does not interrupt the lesson and could be an incentive. thats your call.

you need to do a nutrition class. get them to lay off the nonsense candy.

but do it kbpm.

Ludwig said...

Nothing constructive to offer, other than suggesting that you might want to ping Ram. He also teaches a class (English, Maths) at a primary school in B'looru and might've faced similar situshs. Lemme know if you want email id and so on...