We began with a minute of silence.
The breeze flitted in through the open windows, rustling the yellow flowers and the candle flame at the centre of our circle. Today, our circle was bigger than usual, the Garden and Grade campus akkas having come together. As we quietly looked at each others’ smiling faces, Ms Anandhi started singing Bharathiyar’s Manadhil Urudhi Vendum. It gradually grew louder and louder. We closed our eyes; her bold voice filled the room. It did to us what Bharathi is always capable of doing – inspire; instill a deep sense of passion; and fill our souls with pride for what we do.
Today is the first day of our one month intensive training program. And this first week of it will be spent with Anandhi. She is a Waldorf Mentor with almost two decades of teaching experience and she is here to mentor our Yellow Train community on Waldorf story and painting curriculum.
Often we are asked one very important question. Some are very diplomatic about it and some are not. It goes something like this… “so, none of your teachers hold B.Ed? Many don’t have previous teaching experience? And you think they will make a difference in children’s lives?”
And often we tell them to come experience it rather than try explaining it to them. Because, here at Yellow Train, we believe that who we are educates the child more than what we teach. Yes, many of us do not hold a B.Ed. And many do not have previous teaching experience. But all of us have two things in common – love for children and passion for teaching. And these, we think, are more important than an academic degree alone. And since we believe in this ideology of being a worthy teacher, we believe in continual learning and training, and uplifting ourselves to be able to uplift children.
Our training program starts in the summer holidays and continues throughout the year. We meet up every other Wednesday evening to not just train ourselves, but to discuss the various issues that come up and how effectively we can handle them.
When the results of the International Olympiad Exams came out last month and our children aced it without any preparation, our founder, Santhya akka posted: “This data is for the rational thinkers. And we will have stories too. For the irrational mad people like me.”
In a way, this perfectly suits our akkas and annas as well. Because, we don’t have report cards to showcase to the world the work we do with children; we don’t have exams that evaluate the training we undergo to make something of ourselves. All we have are stories. Stories of children trusting us, jumping up in joy when they see us in the morning, reaching out to us when they are struggling, and hugging us to show their love.
Yes, we only have stories for irrational, mad people like us.