The last week’s reflection covered the similarity between teaching adults and children. Here we will cover a few differences as they pertain to language skills.
- The biggest difference I noticed was the language. Since I am not a Tamilian, my Tamil language skills are zero to non-existent. Thus I am reduced to communicating in English or in broken Tamil. Adults, by and large are more comfortable than children in their command of English and thus I am able to make myself understood more easily with them when it comes to explaining concepts like connectivity, voltage, current flow, voltage division, LED drops etc.
- The one kid with whom I was most effective was from Nepal and was fluent in Hindi which I am as well. 80% of the instruction regarding subtle concepts was delivered in Hindi as his command of English was found inadequate to understand what I was trying to communicate. Now, during sleepovers in Isai Ambalan, I find that I am most effective with his younger brother as I lapse into Hindi in spite of myself.
- It is all very well to insist that the children learn how to communicate in English, given that English is a global and indispensable language worldwide.
- However, I cannot wait for the child to become fluent in English before we start explaining subtle concepts.
- Neither can I reasonably insist on instructing in English regardless of whether he/she understands it or not. The concepts are hard enough to understand even in one’s mother tongue. Why make it harder than it is?
- It has to be understood that I get a few hours a week with a child, much less than what is spent in school. I trust that these few hours of interacting in a non-English language will not significantly impact the child’s grasp of English in an adverse way
- If I am to be effective in working with children, then it is imperative that I improve my command of the Tamil language or else this is a non-starter at worst and will quickly stagnate at best.
- Another option is to train the youth in electronics and they can pass this on to the kids. So this means I do not work with kids directly and work with the youth on this. However, this may not always be feasible since
- the youth may not be interested in Electronics or in teaching Electronics (they may well want to teach something else)
- The supply pool of youths interested in electronics is smaller than the supply pool of children interested in electronics
- The best solution appears to be a mix of the two. Keep improving Tamil language skills while also training the youth in circuits.
- The big bottleneck in improving Tamil language skills is the availability of time. In between working for Aura, working with Youths in the Shifu program, Sleepovers, morning electronic classes (will not be there in May), evening electronics lab (now reduced to 3 days a week), personal work, daily meditation, daily exercise, organizing Vipassana one-day course and group sits, organizing Vipassana courses (to come) it is not clear where the time to learn Tamil will come from.
- A solution certainly exists for this problem, but I have not found it yet. This will require some creativity, some application to Vipassana (reduce time spent in sleep, reduce time being wasted), RTL (sourcing inner capacities, what do I care about, how much do I care about it, what I am willing to give up for it?)