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Sunday November 1, 2009
Don’t lose sight of objectives
By NITHYA SIDHHU
There is a tendency for many of us to take things for granted and become complacent, but we need to fight this to stay ahead.
A FEW months ago, I went for an endoscopy, a process which took only a few minutes, but one for which sedation was required.
I was “out” for more than 45 minutes and when I came to my senses, I found myself, not in the room where the procedure was conducted, but in a bed in an adjoining ward.
It struck me then that anything could have happened to me during that period! Except for some soreness in my throat where the tube had been inserted and the doctor’s assurance, I had little proof that the procedure had been done on me!
The good thing about sedation is it makes you immune to pain. The doctor can work on you without your conscious mind watching and your reflexes rebelling against the discomfort of a tube being inserted down your gullet.
When I went back to school, it occurred to me that the situation we find ourselves in when we are surrounded by the familiar is almost akin to that of sedation.
We come to the same school every day, deal with almost the same issues, walk the same corridors and live with our senses completely adjusted to all that is common to that school.
Over time, we become almost “sedated” in our environment.
We cease to see ourselves for what we truly are, we may not be able to diagnose the reasons behind our weaknesses, and we fail to realise that we are in the comfort zone.
Our complacency so rules the day that we do not even realise that we are going about our duties in an almost sedated state.
Don’t believe me? Try calling a stranger to the school. I am sure that this person will objectively note all that which we have become inured to.
This individual will probably be able to point out to us all the things that do not ring right to him, and perhaps, even suggest changes for the betterment of the school.
He is able to do so because he “sees” objectively what we have lost sight of, because of our familiarity with the subject.
Thinking along these lines, it is therefore a good thing for teachers to leave the school every now and then; to go for refresher courses, or visit a different school, socialise with teachers from other schools, or, even venture on a genuine benchmarking exercise.
We can best discover the weaknesses in our backyard if we first take a look at what other schools are doing and the areas they excel in.
If you think this is unnecessary, let me remind you of the downside of sedation – it makes us lose sight of the inherent cracks that exist in our comfort zones.
On a trip taken to another school or establishment, in treading the new and unfamiliar territory, the “waking up” effect takes place — there is an impinging on our consciousness that things could be better - that work, space and other matters, could be organised in a more efficient way.
Go, see how other schools run their discipline committees, organise their laboratories, manage their resources, command the attention of their students, train their staff, inspire learning, work as a team, handle problems, maintain their standards, raise teacher morale and chart progress.
Without knowing what works and what doesn’t, without comparing notes and without seeing how others live and cope, how can we jump-start an action plan to attain the best for our own school?
Until we see it being done, we will not know how complacent we have become with our own situation.
Living like a frog under a coconut shell is like living under the effects of sedation. If we are sedated for a short time, that is fine. But if we do not know what’s happening to us, doesn’t that render us comatose? Go figure.