Contributed by: Angana Prasad
Dated: 25th March, 2013
When we started playing with a new set of smaller children it broke my heart to see a kid break into tears when I moved to ‘punish’ him. All I would have done is tickle him till he can’t laugh anymore and promises to not disrupt the sessions. It all changed with the realisation that I had perpetrated the fear that had made him cry… Too many thoughts on this: Was this me or the ‘punishment’? Why was my ‘punishment’ the terrorist? ‘Punishments’ are terror or have we terrorised the idea of a ‘punishment’? Why did the kid cry?
Punishments in KHEL have never been about caning and that is something I have always been happy about. Our founder had drummed it into us that no matter what the provocation or frustration we are never to show our anger and in the very worst of cases, we just suspend or cancel our session for the day. So punishment ranges anything from getting down on your fours and bleating like a goat to becoming a chicken and pretending you are laying eggs. In worse cases of constant disruption, we hand over the session to the ‘naughty’ kid and let him conduct the game s/he likes best.
The side-effects of these ‘punishments’ are an enhancement of creative thinking skills, getting over your inhibitions, improving non-verbal communication skills, respecting the time of your peers (disruption + ‘punishment’ takes away the session time too) and most importantly teaches responsibility and empathy. Each time a naughty someone is asked to conduct a game with the entire group, not only are they getting all the attention they had been seeking but also being given a feel of how the coordinators feel being in the position that they are. Also, being given the responsibility of leading a game gives them no other option but to be responsible. The point of our KHEL ‘punishment’ is not to humiliate or to impose discipline strictly but to keep it light and fun and, at the same time, drive our point home.
If one is a child, one ought to be naughty and if one is a child and not naughty, then is one really a child?! I was/am a naughty kid and hated punishments in general (for obvious reasons), but somehow the idea of ‘KHEL punishments’ make me want to have more teachers like me (us) 😉