April 19, 2010

If I were a school teacher in India...

You know how you fondly reminisce the days of school, all those fun and carefree days and what not? But is there something you'd have liked to change (for the better or worse) from your experience there? I went to a school that was fabulously well-known for its academic prowess, so much so that the "IIT"-headed folk promptly joined us in Class XI and our school welcomed them with outstretched arms... after all once the IIT results were published, the numbers were all that mattered.

Over the years I recollect reading a familiar announcement on the school notice boards or more so hearing about them at the school general assembly -  "We proudly announce the acceptance of 35 students of class XII into the IITs this year". And that was that - a big deal. And it didn't matter that about half of them had left schools that had brought them so far to join ours in search of sheer academic success over the last 2 years of high school. All that's well and good and seeing as I am happy where I am right now, I am not here to bitch about the school or it's honed talent at the academics. But I'd certainly have done things differently before it all got to high school and to the point where all that mattered was if we were bookishly brilliant or not.

If I were a school teacher in India I would -

1. Mix 'em up - I'd make sure that the boys and girls were encouraged to sit next to one another and know each other as people rather than as genders. I don't know about your school but our school didn't say anything per se about boys and girls sitting next to each other or talking to each other... but because of the frowned upon nature of the deed, you could hardly see it happen, not that this led to dramatic repercussions.. but why isn't there something as innocent as friendship between the genders? I never got it. I still don't. And I feel that it added to the gender frustrations and could be avoided if the boys and girls just grew up as friends. And if it did bloom into romance at a later date, why would the school care?

2. Culturally promote - "Culturals" or the intra-school, inter-school events of typical singing, dancing, word wars, adzaps, etc were a big part of growing up. Indeed participation in such events is probably the only credit to mixing with kids from other schools and about the only time that we weren't forced to keep up with our academics (they didn't coincide but of course we were expected to up our performances by the time the fortnightly wrongly named assignments (to mean tests) came up). But I guess being culturally brilliant earned you the "cult" status amongst your peers but little recognition from the staff. Some people are good at all these other things but it took the scores on tests to score with our teachers. I sure hope that out-of-the-book talents were recognized and encouraged to let them bloom.

3. Encourage diversity - In interests, in activities, in the classroom and elsewhere. I don't know if you've noticed... but in India unless you belonged to the Medicinal or Engineering fields, people directly assumed that you failed to get the marks/scores that were required to make the cut-off. No, it was not possible for a high-scoring student to opt for the commerce/arts/literature/etc. branch out of interest. And indeed the choice was questioned so many times that it probably confused some who weren't entirely sure themselves. WTH?

4. Bring on the counselors.. - I guess the pre-college counseling was a misnomer too. It was more of a mathematical possibility of matching the "available seats" to your score/ranking and whether you desired a "free seat", "payment seat" or were willing to shell out far more cash for a "management quota". These were standard terms used at the Engineering counseling, where they counseled you for nothing... all they did was match your financial liability to the branch you thought you wanted at the college that was most convenient to you or well-ranked or both. Rather it would've been enormously beneficial to have someone to talk to before you chose your branch in school to choose the stream of study you were likely to follow.Actual counseling. Someone who could tell us where our aptitude lay, what we might be happy and good at doing and what career path that would lead to and how we could get there. Instead, all mature 15 year olds we were expected to choose a path that would define what we became for the rest of our lives. And it's only sheer coincidence if you currently enjoy what you do, for seriously you couldn't have known better.

I am sure there's a lot more to crib about as far as the educational system is concerned... Any cribs/words of appreciation for your schools and teachers? Please share.


Gayathri Krish said...

I can't agree enough :-)

Footloose said...

Agreed! I'm given to understand that these days all top students don't branch out into engineering or medicine. Apparently programs like media communication, journalism and other arts are very popular. I'm pretty sure I'd have done an arts program if it were as acceptable back then. Sadly, I performed too well at school all my life. Ironic.

Vidhya said...

Nice post J.. I agree with Footloose on the new trend where people with stellar academics are branching out in different fields. Growing up it would have been nice to know that there choices other than Engineering or medicine :)

sivakumar said...

Parents and students should have early exposure to the various professions with exposure Programs (Student's dads talkin about their professions in classrooms, presentations, forums, etc). When students know what they really want to do with all these inputs, they can pursue that career regardless of their score sheets in schools, their parents desires and payscales.


sivakumar said...

There's a school in Lucknow which is like THE model school for the World. (atleast in theory, i haven't heard about this school before).

"We feel with globalization taking place, the students can no longer be confined in their thinking to just their neighborhood or culture or their nations. They must reach out to the broader world."

Yes indeed!


Jaya said...

Gayathri Krish-> Thanks much.. Never heard from you, so always a pleasure. Please keep visiting!

Footloose-> Yes, yes, I've heard of these schools and options too.. unfortunately if I'd had my way I'd have been a writer. Bah, who says I still can't? :D

Vidhya-> Thanks di. I hear you.. Like I've said we all have a path that we'd rather have taken than do Engineering with the scores of others around us, very very few of whom had any idea what they were doing and for what.

Siva-> Precisely what I meant by actually "counseling" rather than just give something bizarre that name. Thanks for the link to the school. Indeed if it is true, it's a good start for a journey of a thousand miles must still begin with one small step. Lets hope the revolution is around the corner!

Everyone, thanks for the comments and keep visiting!! Appreciate it!

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