Classroom Conundrums – The Four-Leaved Clover

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The four-leaved clover is an uncommon variation of the common, three-leaved clover. According to tradition, such leaves bring good luck to their finders, especially if found accidentally. Each leaf represents something: faith, hope, love and luck.

In primary grades, it is of utmost importance to identify student strengths and weaknesses and group them up accordingly. A lot of experimentation is required to fit in this jigsaw puzzle. However, sometimes, a not-so-perfect combination can also bring about amazing results. And that too accidentally.

The year had just begun and the children who had walked into my classroom were sitting in random groups. I had actually placed their name tags on each table and they sat themselves accordingly. My observation was a continuous process and I have a distinct recollection of a special group that came about accidentally.

All these groups created a lot of commotion. And then there was my special group, “Group A” where all four children had come to an agreement and were busy writing about themselves.

None of the four group-mates was academically independent. They were average achievers and not very prominent in class. The first group activity that I gave the class at the beginning of the First Term was to learn about each other and create a group profile booklet. I introduced a few designs to them to choose from but gave them an open hand to decide on how they wanted to present or interpret their group.

Work began. I moved around quietly watching them all discussing how they wanted to do it. Some argued on clashing ideas and some sat quietly waiting to accept the final decision. I tried to keep my input as little as possible but intervened where I saw no progress. The perfectionists could not accept the abstract thoughts and the practical players found the idealists quite annoying. I learnt that these young minds at work and their experiences were quite similar to what we as adults face working with each other every day.

All these groups created a lot of commotion. And then there was my special group, “Group A” where all four children had come to an agreement and were busy writing about themselves. I walked by their table and stood for a while to see how they had managed to come to a decision.

My house is in Karachi in Pakistan. I will become a policeman when I grow up. I will protect my country from bombs and have peace. Then we will be happy to go home to meet grandma.

Member A was writing … My name is “A”. I am from Srilanka. My mum and dad work in an office. Every day before we leave the house, we pray together. I know that if I will be good, others will be good to me. If I will help my group-mates, they will also help me out. If I will be in trouble, they can help me out. I will not do anything bad, because then nothing bad will happen to me.” (Her writing reflected strong faith. She was a believer who was run by her conscience and knew how important it would be to be honest and induce positive energy in the group.)

Member B had this to say… My name is “B”. I am from the Philippines. I love my class very much and my teacher. My group-mates are all nice. We have to work together all year. I know that we will be a good team. My group-mates are like my family. We help each other and work together to make our group the best.” (She was definitely a team player. She was an emotional factor who would bring warmth and sustenance to their group.)

Member C was deep in thought… My name is “C”. I am from the U.A.E. My father works in a company. I have a pretty mother. My sisters take care of my baby brother. I have a big villa. All my family goes to the park every Friday. My new class is very big. It has nice boards. My friends in my group are very clever. They all like me. I am thankful to Allah for this class.” (I smiled to myself. Here we had a lucky charm who saw beauty in everything and counted his blessings well. His appreciation of what his group would offer him through the coming year would inspire them to move forward at all times.)

Member D had almost completed his comments… My name is “D”. I am from Pakistan. I am a very good boy. My class is good. I like my new friends. My father works in a bank. He says he works hard to make everyone happy. My house is in Karachi in Pakistan. I will become a policeman when I grow up. I will protect my country from bombs and have peace. Then we will be happy to go home to meet grandma.” (It was delightful to see a dreamer in the group. He had an element of hope in his persona and would prove to be a strong anchor in difficult times.)

And so to me, this group was an amazing discovery of human strengths. A realization of many cultures coming together. Each one offering its own strong influences. There was faith, love, luck and hope all coming together as in a four leaf clover. I dared not change their group arrangement as I had been lucky to find such visionaries by accident.

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