Smita Shroff Malik
School Name :
Baroda High School,ALKAPURI,VADODARA
( Story) :
Hi Am Smita Shroff Malik
By Profession Educationalist and Social Activist By Choice & Will.
Here I Would Like To Share Few Essential Facts
"WHAT FILED WORK IS TEACHING ME ABOUT LIKABILITY, FEMINISM AND MADDENING GIRLS"
For the past 30 months, I’ve been doing a series on Facebook with the hashtag ‘fieldwork-stories’, drawing on my fleeting interactions with girls mostly from rural Area. Because outside of the tunnel-vision of infrastructure, learning levels and drop-outs that my work requires me to look at, people in all their whimsical, political and inspirational glory jump out at me, wreaking some irrevocable change in my ways of seeing.
As a work-in-progress feminist, I often side with railing against the cult of ‘likability’. Loud mouthed? Bossy? Selfish? Hello best friends, known and unknown.
Yet professionally, which for me sometimes involves going out into government schools to discuss their lives and experiences with students, there are enough times when I’m heartily, viciously cribbing with everybody about ‘annoying girls’ who keep upsetting our plans by giving no answers. Feisty and expressive we are only too glad to celebrate, especially since they serve our ends so perfectly by providing eminently quote-worthy sound bytes.
There was this one particularly exhausting time in a classroom of intractable adolescent girls where I was struggling bravely with my colleague. We proceeded to take a ‘different’ tack and talk playfully about irrelevant things, expecting to segue eventually into ‘serious questions’.
Hoping to ingratiate myself with them – “Isn’t school just the worrrrst?, haha…”, I trailed off lamely, “I used to HATE chemistry! What about you?”
Then decided to take a more direct approach- “Don’t worry about talking to us! You can say whatever you feel like! We’re just like you!”
(This is the role of an educationist - Listen)
They didn’t care. “Discuss amongst yourselves and one of you share what was said?” we pleaded. “Write it down, why don’t you write it down?” as last ditch. When we finally decided to step out for a moment to re-strategise, we heard them suddenly burst into a clamour of rushed conversation behind us.
Their class teacher waiting outside nodded sympathetically at us. Yes, she understood, she said. It was always like pulling teeth. They just refused to participate in class too.
“Why do you think?”
“They’re just like that.”
“Could they be shy?”
“I mean… yeah, they speak a slightly ridiculous dialect, so they might be afraid of exposing themselves.”
So my colleague and I walked back in with an unspoken agreement and brought up the fact of language straight up. Pink-eared with earnestness we tried signalling the warm and expansive generosity of our natures, our immoderate love for linguistic diversity.
“Speak just as you do at home! We’re so interested!”, but they only giggled relentlessly. Some embarrassed, some contemptuous.
Walking up to my notebook on the teacher’s desk, I shut it with a sense of finality and the taste of defeat in my mouth.
“Okay…so I guess you should go for a snacks break now then…hope it’s good food, since we made you late for it.”
They filed out, and the boys jostled in with their thumbs hooked into schoolbag-straps, full of queries, excited to participate. In the now-empty side of the classroom my eyes fell on the desks with neat unbroken rows of carefully folded textbook-laden polythene bags.
Sitting on straw mats laid out under a tree, I was scrunch-faced attempting to decipher the thick accented complaints against neighbours/ dowry seeking grooms/ the government.
Behind each child/ student there is a story.
If only we the educationists are more sensitive & empathetic we can change the lives of all who desperately need our years.
We tend to get lost in our own world. We should gain strength from those who have seen bad days & help them through our profession / work