In one of the schools where we attended the open house this month, the director was very eloquent about the non-intrusive and soothing environment they provide at their school. She also mentioned that they believed in empowering students and letting them share the daily school responsibilities along with the teacher. She said they do not have a school bell. All they had was a whistle that they blew few times a day to indicate recess/lunch on and off times; and that too because kids are far off in the schoolyard or playground during that time. They might not be able to see the clock. But other than that they didn’t ring or even have any other school bells. They didn’t want to startle the students. Also this is one of their methods to teach the kids time management.
This conversation brought back some bittersweet memories from my childhood.
I once studied in a public school that was poorly funded. The money was so scarce that the administration and teachers had to be constantly creative on how they spend without compromising the quality for the students.
When the school had started few years ago they couldn’t afford a new school bell. I am not taking about the shinny brass ones. They didn’t have enough money to buy the plain old cast iron bells. So a staff member rode his bicycle to the nearest railroad yard and brought back a 3-foot broken and abandoned railway line. They hung it at school as a bell. And imagine what did they use as the clapper – A good old hammer.
I visited this school of mine in 2012 December after many decades. Things have changed and improved beyond my imagination. The school has grown multifold in all aspects. Although they use an electric bell now, they still have the railway line bell displayed as memento in the assembly room.
Image courtesy: Google
In last few years, I constantly see a lot of encouragement around care, share and pay it forward. I also see great many people, groups, institutions and non-profits coming together and passionately working towards greater good. Companies like where I work even match my time and money contribution to the cause that I support. There is so much awareness and reach today. Media, technologies, education and lifestyles are playing critical roles connecting people, resources and causes.
At the same time, with so many groups to work with and causes to support, it can get overwhelming. Especially if you have the heart for it , but short of time and money. A family emergency, health issue or a job loss could force us to step back. I have been in this roller coaster few times.
I have learnt few things by being in those situations myself or by working with people who were in such situations :
1) If you cannot do or contribute, then don’t get involved just because you feel obliged to. Because if you feel miserable, you will make others around you uncomfortable as well. Don’t beat yourself for not being able to do anything and don’t compare yourself with others. When the situation improves, jump back in.
2) If you had been sacrificing family time by getting involved with causes, find something that you can do together as a family. If you have to tone down the frequency and extent of involvement for your family’s sake, then do just that. If you and your family are unhappy, you cannot spread happiness.
3) If you are unable to carry on with your tasks that you were doing before your situation, seek for something else that you will be able to do now. Many a times, you will find offline work that can be done remotely, like editing newsletters, replying emails etc.
4) If you can’t find anything that you can do in your current group, have an open mind and search for another cause or organization where you will find options that work for you. Remember someone somewhere will definitely be appreciative of your work.
Regardless of what, where, how much and how you care, the act itself is priceless. So is the notion of harboring the wish to do something for others. It is like a seed sown today for the future fruit.
Image from: http://chapters.asmconline.org
I rustle up the paper noisily.
I slam down the coffee mug.
I drop the entire folder on the floor.
I adjust my chair. Creating a racket as I drag it.
I open my bag. The Velcro action is loud.
I cough or try to cough. It sounds like a bad attempt.
And all these happen within moments of each other.
The colleague sitting opposite to me in the conference room looks at me askance. He looks curiously piqued too. His eyebrows are raised. I see congruent reactions on few more faces around the table.
But not the one sitting beside me. He looks amused. He says, “Time to take a break from your gut wrenching music. Go for a walk. And eat something”.
And I thought I was keeping it all under wraps.