Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pea for English: Follow Up

Pea for English is the new English training strategy devised on the premises that the growth of the pea plant mirrors, somewhat closely, the steps involved in second-language acquisition. Preparing the soil [identifying the proper aptitude for language learning], Planting the seed [equipping the language learner with the basic laws of the second language], watering [reading on a daily basis, materials written in the language that is being learnt], etc.

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We planted a pea plant in the first semester B. Com classroom, in a garden pot. Each day three students would pour small quantities of water to the seed still in slumber inside the soil. I had made take an oath that the ones who water the plant must participate in a thirty minutes reading, each day. So each one responsible to water the plant would read for at least half an hour, anything they come across.

If no one participates in the ritual, the seed would not get water that day. Of course, the students are extremely enthusiastic to learn English. Every day, since the planting of the seed, they watered it and observed the progress. The seed, however, was not showing any progress at all.

An image taken on September 5: The garden pot, after the intrusion.
Today, on 5 September 2013, to my utter shock, the garden pot, in which we had planted the pea seed one week back, had many shoots of mustard leaves in it. At first, I could not even discern what those tiny green out growths in the soil were. One of the students from the class said, they were mustard seeds. Clearly, something had gone wrong. After a limited, but efficient enquiry, I realized what happened, and the shock of that still rings in my veins. Someone from the senior students had bullied with the garden pot.

Someone had poured boiling water in the pot and then, later, in order to communicate a conspicuous message of threat, spread mustard seeds in the pot. Clearly, the number of persons involved is vague. They may be two, perhaps, or more. It does not matter who did it, or how many of them were there. What matters ultimately, is why they did such a horrendous action.

Planting the pea seed was a symbolic action—an archetype. Jungian archetypes are sure to connect among human minds, even if words spoken aloud, or written do not make sense. The unconscious self will pick up the sense in the teaching process, through its association with fertility and agriculture. I am sure that this approach will enable language-learning effective. While working on a project full of archetypal symbols and psychological stimulators, the last thing I needed was am interruption. However, I received just the same, and a grave one indeed.
Signs of evil: Mustard seeds in the 'Pea for English' pot.
If ‘Pea for English’ was intended to invoke the unconscious capabilities of language acquisition, the bullies had delivered a symbolic blow to the attempt. What I am concerned about more, right now, is not about the Pea for English program itself, but for the mental health of the students. The incident must have surely shaken their unconscious mind, even though they seem not much aware of it, consciously. My next step should be to control the emotional damage in the students.

Both this incident and its influence upon me and the students would definitely etiolate the smooth proceeding of the language class. I wonder what their motives might have been. Were they somehow trying to convey a message to me that I should not give those students the special coaching I was planning to. Or, was their deed just a reflection of the unconscious cultural attitude of Kerala society?

Kerala is notorious for its ill handling of issues related to development, growth, and ethical integrity. An ill equipped and largely corrupt governmental system works its ways down the hill in preserving nature, because for most the “development experts” hired by the government, development means transforming the state into desert, much like the UAE. Any novel idea or innovative model of environmental and social management always meets with harsh criticism and physical assault. Ethical integrity is considered arrogance or dissidence. What else can one expect from a society that has rotten to its core? William Shakespeare’s metaphor of an empty hell is supremely apt here. A dysfunctional society manifests itself in the demonic practices of its individuals.

The day I found the mustard seeds in the garden pot coincided with the much-celebrated Teachers’ Day in India. On 5 September, the second president of independent India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in 1888. He was a prominent philosopher and taught even at the legendary Oxford University. This seems not to be a mere coincidence to me. What I had planted as a symbolic path to knowledge has given me the fruit I was expecting—knowledge. I told the students this; there will be obstructions to each of your dedicated attempts to do better. This should not budge you from your path.

It would be facile to say I am not shaken by the unacceptable event that took place. I am, very much. However, I would like to investigate into their motivation. I am sure I would benefit from it, as seeker of the true knowledge, ‘epignosis’.  

Also refer: Pea for English
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