Sunday, July 16, 2017

REPETITION: An Old Story

"Champions keep playing until they get it right.” - Billie Jean King
 
In repetition lies the reality of success. Repetition without total commitment and passion is, however, a waste of time.

Often, in classrooms, I give repetitive writing exercises to my students. Most of them would certainly show a tired face or boo my instruction right away. I always take it as a good occasion to tell them the significance of repeating words and sentences on paper.

I unveiled the same measure in an English Literature classroom about six months ago.
I saw the tired faces. I saw the silent frustration and the booing from the backbench.

“All great writers did this exercise. This is the rhythm of creation. Write, repeat… write, repeat.” I sing sang my words into that chaos of conflicting interests in front of me. 

“Didn’t you get the reason why I want you people to do this?” I asked.

“No,” they said. “Why do we care?”

I looked into their faces. Innocent, yet affirmative. I thought, why on earth did I become a teacher!

What they said was their honest response. However, their words were sharp. It hurt the teacher in me… or should I say the ego of the teacher in me?

“Sir, do you have any printed notes for us?” suddenly, someone stood up and saved me from the state of embarrassment. 

“Why do you want printed notes?” I enquired, a little frustrated because, in the previous class, I had told them that by doing the classroom assignments they’d be able to answer all question in their examinations. There need not be any note-giving in this class. They simply did not need it, I had arrogantly concluded.

It was a girl student named B. I had thought that she was saving me from the embarrassment of facing the earlier response of the students. But it was clear now that she was only stabbing me behind my back.

“Printed notes are for losers,” I said aloud. “They will destroy your ability to think and write for yourself. Write. Find your own voice.”

“Sir,” the girl student who sat next to B, named F stood up. 
“Yes,” I looked at her, regretting that I shouted, perhaps unnecessarily, at my good student B.
F looked around and asked hesitantly, “Can you dictate those printed notes for us, then? We will write it down in our notebooks.”

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