Monday, June 13, 2005

Kya School Hain Hum!

Today is my soon-to-be-six year old daughter's first day at school. Or is it her last day of childhood? My heart is heavier than her new, big-girl schoolbag as I see her off at the bus stop. Playschool, nursery, kindergarten - those are mere preparation for separation. Class One is the rough, rigorous, Real Thing.

Twenty odd workbooks, textbooks, notebooks. As we sat covering them in regulation brown paper, I noticed they were a lot more colourful and child-friendly than the schoolbooks I remember. Still... they seem like way too many, especially to carry back and forth.

Not long ago, CBSE asked the 6000 schools across the country following its syllabus to reduce the school bag burden. "Schools should also not set any homework for students of classes I and II," CBSE Director (Academics) G Subramanian said in a circular.

Some schools are making provisions for lockers. Most aren't. What's most frustrating is that what you feel on such issues - as a parent - really doesn't matter. You may be a 'consumer' of education, paying a pretty hefty fee, but the general attitude of schools is 'take it or leave it.'

No doubt the school cannot satisfy every pushy parent but the more fundamental issue is about balance of power. That lies squarely with the educators. I wonder whether it's partly to compensate for the fact that teachers - even principals - are one of the lowest-paid professionals in society.

There are times when I swear I can hear the teacher thinking, "Hey, Doctor/ Manager/ IAS officer... idhar sab ek samaan. Here, you gotta dance to my tunes."

I'm sure Nivedita will learn to live with the system - like I did. And millions of other kids have. But is the objective of schooling to merely survive, or to thrive? Wish someone had the answers... or at least started asking the question!

10 comments:

  1. Hi,

    Really, these days schooling seems to be more mandatory phase rather then being one foundation series. Apparently, even parents perform their duty by providing the best school in locality. But that the only thing probably they can do when it comes to choice for school. Its unlike the flat buying where we can make the interiors as per our taste. Surprisingly, even kids get exposed to proffesionlism in schools. They get to know that they need to follow 'Teacher-is always-right' tradition, which later would be replaced by 'Boss-is-always-right' attitude.

    However I feel that bombay schools are much much better than if you compare them with schools in delhi or north india. However the school system as a whole needs a radical change...but i wonder how many of us would like to take this experiment with our own babies.

    -tripti

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  2. Digressing from the subject a bit. One thing - out of so many other things - which cripples Indian education system is its overdependence on memory-based grading system. It is all about how much you can memorise and store it in your hard-disk(read brain). This doesnt add a bit to the creativity side. No wonder we dont have many innovative minds.

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  3. Yes, school book do look a lot better... but i think they've all gone down on the content bit.

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  4. Educational institutions across ages, streams and cities in this country are suffering a similar fate. To me the problem seems to lie with the teachers and their lack of passion towards the students. But then again, as rightly pointed out one cannot blame them completely as their salaries are a mere fraction of what they should be. I think the government needs to isolate the education ministry in the sense that it should be headed by prominent academic personalities (e.g. Dean's of IIT's IIM's and the likes) and the education ministry should be given special privileges in that it should have its own decision making and implementing authority. Professional colleges should insist on their faculty being doctorates in the respective field and all teachers should be made to necessairily update their skills once every two years.

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  5. dear rashmi
    i feel the same way with schools. my son has just begun 8th standard. there are so many gripes about why his principal is so strict, why can't they allow freer use of the library, why can't they use the lab more often for experiments, and so on. i have to draw on all my patience and experience to see that he does not turn too pessimistic about his school environment. i try to fill the gaps by adding other activities like getting him to workshops arranged by the science forum in my city, taking him to interesting places and reading out to him and sharing with him.

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  6. yeah about the school bag and the load tiny toads carry! no the question is not that, the question really is where is the heart? the policy makers, the educators, the teachers, and the parents. . what do we teach them? do we teach them anything except carrying load? mental and physical? why do we do that. 6000 odd schools rashmi said . . what are we passing genereation after generation? no we need to think about it and more importantly we need to do something about it. . we can do things only when we put our hearts to it. .

    think with the heart

    do we ?

    ReplyDelete
  7. gud luck sister nivedita :-)...kids....woww...they are the real ppl...we are all fakes....
    reminds me something that my mom used to tell me whenever dad got ill....."pray to god...he will listen to u...bcoz u are unadulterated" how true??? Now i realise....

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi,

    I recently read your article on Rediff GetAhead series on the same topic and agree with your take on the issue.

    I have written a follow-up post on my other blog, Learning Redefined. Please take a look.

    ReplyDelete
  9. thank god, iam not the only one who thinks education system in India is cruel, uncreative and stressful both for parents and students.

    ReplyDelete
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