Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Higher Learning

I learned to read today. This rather momentous occaision in my education came about when I decided to attend my very first Compulsory English lecture today (its at 7:30am, so normally I dont bother). As I entered the class, I saw that most of the people attending were English Special students who are compelled to attend, and who were looking around with a resigned, hopeless look one generally associates with people who think they've gotten a really bad deal in life. I should have taken the hint, but I didnt.

The teacher came in (10 minutes late). She opened her textbook, instructed us to do likwise and started saying something about "reading skills". I was a little nonplussed, but I convinced myself that it couldnt be a big deal. It cant be a big deal, I thought. Maybe these are really advanced reading skills, I surmised. Perhaps the Marathi medium students will really benefit from this, I opined.

I was wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. The teacher, having taken the attendance and completed all the other preliminaries to the class, started teaching. "You should move your head from left to right while reading", she said. "Read each word, and string them into a sentence". I reeled. PG Wodehouse has spoken at length about the difficulties of reeling while sitting, but I managed it nonetheless. Perhaps this is the effect of an "elitist' convent education, but I had always thought that reading skills should be taught a little earlier in the course of one's formal education, like standard I, perhaps.

Anyway, the rest of the lecture is a sort of a blur to me right now. I remember her testing our recently acquired reading skills by making us read an advertorial from the 'India Today', and finally, the bell rang. I have heard no sweeter sound in all my three years in college. Staggering out, I thanked my stars that our College doesnt set much store on attendance. Maybe there is a God, after all.


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