As an admission counselor, I am privy to information about so many varied experiences, those parents and students choose to share with me. All this sets me thinking about schools, and their role in education.
I meet parents who are searching for some mythical point of perfection in their expectations from an institution. Between their our time in school, and what they encounter today in the 21st Century, with multiple boards and vastly different ecosystems,there are bound to be comparisons. The delivery of knowledge has changed post the internet revolution .The users of the system display (in the process of evolution)far superior intelligence and skills. They need stimulation, and to use a cliche’ think out of the box” from an early age. In these circumstances, in which we must include the forces of globalization, education and it’s rendition has gone through radical changes. Why, even the role of the teacher is vastly different, from earlier times. Students may choose not to see teachers as the storehouses of information and prefer to challenge them actively. Teaching is probably no longer seen as a “noble” profession by a majority of job aspirants, as newer sectors have emerged and students have an array of choices. Many schools have opened with investors galore, foreign curriculum and new age pedagogy, competing to create a wonder product, who excels in academics and his interests range from football to Mandarin and music. Human beings by their very creation cannot be slotted. There is seven kinds of intelligence and somehow we lose the essence, and aim for “one size fits all”.
An urgent reflection is needed with regard to this dehumanized rat race, that is destroying many students’ lives, as they battle their parents’ expectations and struggle to achieve the impossible in many cases. In the process, they lose faith, hope and vitality.
Not so long ago, a student could have an organic growth where he got the opportunity to discover what worked for him as an individual. The voices in the head today fuelled by inputs from social media and other sources of information makes the average youngster’s life a confusing universe. Added to this is the view, that making money is the yardstick of success. No one wants a long gestation, as evident from the start up mentality.
Despite all these unsavoury elements, schools remain and will remain the single biggest influence in a child’s life, apart from the home. The role of a teacher can never be negated. Not yet! Schools help children function and develop in group situations, while being monitored. The understanding of the shades of life can and do come through interactions in schools. Disruptions and even a brawl is part of this evolution. The more we stay away from all that is apparently unpalatable; we cloister our children and shield them from even a mild rebuke from a teacher. We inhibit them, and make them unduly fearful and judgmental in the process. To what end? Previous generations have emerged stronger as they have survived conditions that were testing, to say the least, from sauna like classrooms to corporal punishment.
Attending school and being part of an age old tradition, is non negotiable. A parent cannot through homeschooling, ever compensate for the learning from group situations. Isolation has huge bearings on mental health, whether we accept it or not. Yes ,it may not be exactly the way we visualize it but we need to embrace the essential chaos that exists in the world and work our way through all the glitches. Only then will we succeed in creating robust individuals, with coping skills and compassion, values that actual life episodes create, and books cannot impart effectively. Exposure to some stress fosters a sense of reality. Once we have a positive attitude, the bond between schools, parents and students will be strengthened , and a school will continue to lay the foundation for a stable adulthood. So let us join hands, starting today.