“Have a little patience…,” crooned the singer through the car radio as I navigated Bangalore’s traffic. While I may not have patience waiting in a traffic jam, my job requires heaps of it. In fact, when I inform people of my profession upon meeting them for the first time, I most often receive the response, “Oh you must be a patient person!” Working as a special educator with children who have learning difficulties, I have come to realise patience is a quality that changes and grows with time. Patience is not just about staying calm when a child repeatedly makes the same mistake or takes time to learn a skill. So what is this special type of patience that I am talking about?
Well, the ‘patience’ I am referring to is more a mindset that grows on you as your knowledge about learning difficulties increases. It involves allowing a child to learn at her own pace. It is also realising that despite taking time, a child is trying his best to learn. Patience is knowing that each child is different and modifying expectations accordingly. For me, patience is when children are persistent in their efforts to learn. The resilience children show in the face of adversity is inspiring.
The reason I write about this topic is because many shy away from this highly-satisfying profession for fear of not having enough patience. While being patient by nature is an added bonus, patience is a skill that can be honed. Every job requires training and patience is a skill that I feel can be learned. Being a special educator is a rewarding experience and many are losing out on this experience for fear of trying.
(An edited version of this article first appeared in ‘In Sync with Kids’ at http://www.prayatna.org/blog).