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The change we expect

I am so proud that I grow up in the 90s. Not only I am super proud of this golden era of Indian music but also of the schools that I came across – from a then very popular convent school to a Municipal corporation school to a Zilla Parishad school in a village. Time changed everything, but I wished it shouldn’t have changed the meaning of schools.   

Then I hated my school for being too strict. Even a minute late, and the gate of our convent school would close. The parents who brought their little ones would go back disappointed with a self-promise of getting up early the next day and making it up. We – the kids – would literally have a race on the pavement with those seven to eight kilos of school bags on our backs to reach the school on time.   

Whether it was Alex sir of the convent school or Jadhav sir of the Zilla Parishad school, they both believed in discipline. I don’t remember I ever had a filmy haircut, my shirts tucked out, my upper button opened. It grew so deep in me that even after going for college and university education, I was the same person.  

Those were the times when the question papers were either written and then photocopied, or written on the blackboard, or typed. Computers in mainstream education were not introduced then. Every time there was an examination, there would be mistakes in the question paper, and the subject teacher would go and visit each and every class to write the correct question on the blackboard. Nobody, literally nobody, whether you are a son of a local leader or a goon, would dare to go to Father Francis, the principal of our convent school, or Mr. Gosavi, the strictest principal of the municipal corporation school to ask them to change the school’s plan, to preponed or postponed the examination, to change the timetable, or even to ask, “Why my son or daughter hasn’t got the highest marks in the class?” Not that the parents were scared, but they had complete faith in the school system. They had complete faith in Mrs. Sahastrabuddhe’s or Borde Miss’s slaps and ear pulls that we children were scared of.   

The parents, whether well-educated, from the well-to-do families or uneducated ones, never ganged up to gossip against the school policies, and it does not mean that they were not aware of the tiny goof ups the schools were making, but in the end, the parents then trusted the school for their life. Some of the parents were teachers themselves in the other schools, but never doubted schools’ decisions.   

I am not quite happy with the way schools are working. Earlier there were few choices, but now we have a school almost after every one or two kilometers, but changing our perception about the school after every one or two days, isn’t a good sign for the overall education system that includes schools and parents as well. No school works for not giving the best possible education to the kids, to fulfill promises given during admissions, because every school wants to stand tall in the competition.   

Parents’ unrealistic expectations about the school and about the overall teaching and learning have damaged the very fabric of the bond of trust that was once between schools and parents. Globalization and high-speed internet’s easy availability made all of u superfast in finding faults, raising issues (sometimes unnecessarily) and seeking quick solutions at a snap of a finger. We, the parents, trust internet articles and reviews more than anything else. Alexa or Siri sound more informative and authentic to us that the actual teachers. As we are educated, the rise of WhatsApp forwards and Facebook memes have suddenly made us the masters in Child Psychology, Educational Philosophy and Sociology and M.B.A. in school management, that the teachers spend more than half a decade in actual learning. The era of artificial intelligence and online shopping is leading us to seeking ‘artificial solution’ and ‘after-sale customer care culture’ and we are, unintentionally, unconsciously, trying the same with our schools, and paving the land mines that would blast the very core of the education system,, that is, morals, values and respect. I have seen parents, in front of his child, criticizing the school and the teachers’ teaching method, raising his voice at the teacher, and it is enough to make the child learn ‘mistrust’, ‘disrespect’ and ‘insult’ which ones embedded within the child, would keep ticking up like a time bomb.   

For me, it is alright, if a school fails to make engineers, doctors or civil servants, or a teacher commits a mistake in notebook checking or goofs up the solution of the quadratic equation, it is still acceptable, but it will never be acceptable if a school fails to make a child ‘a good human being’.   

To all the parents who think that schools don’t know how to run a school, I would recommend them to be a volunteer or come to school and be or visit the school as a field visit. The teachers are working as if they are working on the war front, always on their toe tip, running infinitely like a spring coiled toy from one task to another, from one outcome to another. Because if you are a doctor, an engineer, an architect, a scientist, or even a sweeper, you have a life, but once you become a teacher, all you have is your students.   

So, instead of being an educational inspector, or a critic, or a reviewer, let’s take some time, someday, to appreciate the teacher who is working before and after school hours to give you the so-called ‘after-sale service’.   

By the way, last week we went to meet Alex sir, our sports teacher, who used to make us run two rounds of the school ground, and would always carry a cane to hit us on our bare legs making them go black and blue. Though we were excited to see our old teacher, we all made sure that our shirts are tucked in properly, collars are not standing, and the haircut was formal. We met him with straight spines, chins up, and hands behind our backs.  

A write up by Amit Kharat

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