Little Ornithologist

by Vaman Acharya
(Bengaluru, Karntaka, India)



It was a rare situation in the special class, where a student had challenged her teacher to prove the correctness of the answers given by the students. The teacher had approved all the answers of the students as correct. The Question and answer session was going on the ‘birds’. He was asking questions one by one to the students and getting the answers.

“Can anyone in the class tell me in brief about the bird ‘Sooty Tern'? asked the teacher.

Nobody was in a position to answer immediately. After a while, one of the boys stood up and said, “Sir, it is a flying bird mostly found in the forests of Australia.”

Another boy replied, “Sir, it is something like an Indian crow.”

Yet another boy answered in a different way, which was not at all connected to the bird. The teacher picked up a paper containing the questionnaire on birds. It was better, if he had searched the answers. He went on asking questions one by one given in the paper. He didn’t bother, whether students were giving correct answers or not.

Divya, a 12 year old student of 5th standard, who was sitting in the front row, didn't like the way in which the Q& A session was conducted. Ultimately, she stood up and said, “I beg your pardon sir, the answers given by the students are totally incorrect. With your permission, I would like to give the correct answers.”

It was a surprise and insult to the teacher to hear such comments from a student. He stared at her.

“Divya, do you know with whom you are talking to? I will have to take action against you if you fail to prove the answers given by the students are incorrect.”

“Yes Sir, with due respect, I am prepared to accept the challenge.”

“Divya, I will repeat the questions. Tell me in brief about ‘Sooty Tern’” asked the teacher.

“Sir, Wonder bird Sooty Tern is found in the western coast of India. Its size is 34-36 cm.”

“Do you know which bird is called as a ‘dangerous bird’?”

“It is Cassowary.” Divya was quick in her reply.

“Can you name the most talkative bird?”

“Female African parrot is the most talkative bird.”

“Which bird is called as the ‘dive down bird’?”

“Penguin is a dive down bird.”

“What are the interesting features of the different kinds of birds?”

“The largest bird is Ostrich, and the smallest bird is Humming bird. The heaviest flying bird is Mute Swan, the largest flying bird is Condor. The largest egg hatching bird is Ostrich. The fastest bird is Indian Swift. The longest living bird is Andean Condor. The highest flying bird is Egyptian Geese. The largest wingspan bird is Wandering Albatross. The fastest swimmer bird is Penguin. The best song bird is Indian bird Shama,” said Divya without a break.

It was a surprise for the teacher to hear answers from Divya so fast. He was not in a position to ask her further questions, as the questions in the list were over.

Every one in the class, including the teacher, was surprised to know the little girl’s knowledge on birds. The teacher was in a precarious position and apologized to Divya. On that day the lecturer of local college, who had good knowledge on birds was asked to conduct the class, did not turn up. He had sent a message that he would be available after one hour. One of the teachers of the school was asked to take up the class for just an hour. He had expressed his unwillingness as he was not confident in the subject. He was persuaded to pull on for an hour. It was true that he was asked to take up the class for one hour not on birds but on the subject he was handling. He commenced the class straight away by asking questions. He was supposed to speak something about the birds and then ask questions. The Head Master of the school had called this teacher and asked the reason for creating an awkward position. He accepted his mistake and requested the head master to pardon him this time. He was given caution suitably not to repeat like this.

There was a practice in the Model Higher primary School, Pavanpur to conduct a special class once a week for one hour on specialized subjects like birds, animals, creatures and general knowledge. These classes were arranged under the extra curricular activities. All the students, irrespective of the class, were allowed to participate actively. This type of special class was conducted once a week, except on Sundays and holidays, at a convenient time. For each class, local degree college lecturers having studied in the subject were invited to conduct the class. Interested teaching staff members of the school were allowed to sit along with the students. The meeting hall of Town Municipal Council, Pavanpur was spared for conduct of such class. This building was situated just a kilometer away from the river Triveni. The natural scenes with full of tall trees and varieties of flying birds were of great attraction for the students.

Little girl Divya was honoured by the school as a ‘little ornithologist’ by giving a certificate at the Annual Day function.

The End

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