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One for starry eyed kids

Chennai: There is a uniform silence as the classes are going on in the government school at Veerakeralampudur in Tenkasi. As one can consider this widespread feature in schools as a conducive environment to allow students to concentrate and learn better, Malathi S presents in a song where the pursuer recites one of Newton’s laws of motion. There is one more to be wooed, and that is starry-eyed children.
Villupattu is one of the methods this science teacher uses to take his students – mostly children of daily wage laborers – on a daily rollercoaster of lessons; The result is an enjoyable learning journey. Malathi’s teaching methodology has evolved over the last 15 years since he entered the field. She says that one quality every teacher should have is to remain a student throughout life. And it is because of this yearning to learn new methods oriented towards bridging the gap between the textbook and the children, that won Malathi the National Award on Teacher’s Day this year.
But glamor is only the outer shell. Hard work and dedication are the ingredients that balance out the salt and sugar in a dish. When the world turns away from dreams, Malathi’s troubles begin. Every night, after 10 pm, after she completes her household work, Malathi sits down with the lessons to be taught the next day and prepares the material for the next two hours. “I use Villupattu songs to teach advantages and disadvantages in science lessons. Experiments for physics-related parts, and puppets when I feel the topic would be better suited to speak directly to the students,” she says.
“I often give them small projects to work on, such as making objects from discarded household items – for example, a kaleidoscope from broken mirrors. When they make these things they learn mechanisms,” she adds.
Born in Sengottai and herself a former government school student, Malathi says it was her mother’s wish that she become a teacher and serve society. His chemistry teacher in class 12 solidified his resolve and he entered the field in 2008. During her early years, Malathi recalls, she would resort to mnemonics and storytelling to help students remember lessons.
In her passion to teach better, she expanded her horizons by taking online courses in robotics, coding, toy-making, puppetry and even learning languages. “I learned puppetry and Villupattu through YouTube,” she says. He has also introduced his students to Java Script.
Even before the world could understand the concept of online teaching, Malathi had mastered the technology. Having used online tools for teaching since 2014, she was well prepared for the digital transformation brought about by COVID-19. During the pandemic, he conducted marathon online teaching sessions and held classes for 26 hours continuously.
what more? Malathi is pursuing MSc in Psychology to keep herself updated on the subject which she last studied as a paper during her graduation, and learn how to handle students better. “After training the teachers, I started focusing on the students,” she says. “Every day, from 7 pm to 8 pm, I conduct online classes, in which not only my own students attend, but also students from across the state attend.”
Winning a national award is small compared to realizing how many lives he has touched. On the day the award was announced, Malathi found a group of 60 parents waiting to welcome her with shawls and garlands. “Most of my students have parents who are daily wage labourers. I was impressed by their gesture and the fact that my students told their parents about me and my work. “I still haven’t stopped thinking about it,” says Malathi.
However, if you ask her about her most significant achievement, she would say that it was when she helped students with disabilities learn to read and write. But their efforts go far beyond helping students barely pass exams; It is their aim to stimulate their imagination, not merely hand out fanciful dreams.

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