What role do you play as founder-principal of Apple Bee School?
Apple Bee is my pet project. I have been nurturing it with all my love, hard work, dedication and devotion for the past five years. I’m involved in almost everything that goes on, from planning day-to-day activities and framing age-appropriate curricula to looking into admissions and (foremost) always being available to parents and staff.
You’ve been in education for about 20 years. Tell us about your experiences.
I find teaching to be a very rewarding and challenging profession. Helping children makes me happy; I have learnt so much from them, and they inspire me to my best. My journey has had its ups and downs. There have been certain ideas and activities that I found very helpful for the kids, but there have also been times when I found children overburdened by academic pressure. However, a constant over the past 20 years is that I learn something new virtually every day. In spite of the long journey and my vast experience, I still cannot say that I’ve seen and done it all. There is plenty more to do and learn, and I hope to continue learning until I’m satisfied.
What changes have you seen over the course of your career?
When I embarked on my teaching journey, there were few schools offering a different syllabus. But over the last 15 years, there has been a steady increase in the number of schools following the CBSE, ICSE, ISC and IB curricula. Schools these days focus equally on curricular and co-curricular activities. With daily academic pressure, children are also forced to attend tutoring, resulting in a lack of interaction and playing time. There have been many changes, both progressive and adverse. Technology has made an impact on teaching methodology. Though students learn a great deal though computers, they can sometimes lack the maturity to properly interpret technological hazards.
In your eyes, what should be the focus of pre-primary education?
With the influx of nuclear families, television and gadgets, many of today’s children don’t interact with people very often, nor do they indulge in physical activity. They no longer involve themselves in social activities, nor are they habituated towards reading. I stand strongly against exposing children too much to these gadgets at the primary level. Instead, I encourage parents to involve their children in physical, reading and creative activities. They should interact more often with family members; this will improve vocabulary and teach kids how to express their feelings.
Tell us more about yourself.
I’m a very open-minded and happy person with a generous heart. I trust people blindly, and I don’t hesitate to go out of my way to help others, be they close friends or complete strangers. My hobbies are at a contrast with my profession – watching movies, dining out, and having a blast with my friends. I also love reading and solving puzzles. I’ve also started working on my next project, an old-age home and orphanage where I can ensure that the needy get all the love, care, respect and happiness they deserve.
I was born and raised in Karachi, coming to live in a very different Hyderabad after I got married. This city was not the same 33 years ago. Though my husband and in-laws were great to me, I still felt lost in a new country without too many people I knew. But with my family’s support and cooperation, I ventured into the teaching profession, gaining recognition for my efforts and achieving what I always wanted to. The icing on the cake is being featured in your prestigious magazine, which I consider one of the biggest achievements of my life!
..... as told to Niharika