What is Schooling For?

Image courtesy Lisha Menon

What does schooling mean to me?

Simply and generally put, schooling is education received at school.

According to me, schooling ought to help me:

  • Have a clarity regarding what I like and don’t like; my strengths and weaknesses;
  • Build friendships and relationships with people around me.
  • Take decisions regarding career options so that I can support myself and be financially independent

These are the three most important facets required to make certain that I have a meaningful life experience.

Generic View on Schooling

  • The teacher explains things to a class, students are expected to document their observations, based on the explanations, in their notebooks. For reference and a better understanding, they refer to the respective textbooks.
  • What the students are taught is tested after a period of time; irrespective of whether they are able to comprehend and grasp important things or not.
  • Schooling focuses on the understanding and the development of the whole class, rather than each individual child.
  • Depending on the marks obtained, each student will be accepted or rejected by the school or college they want to seek admission in   .

Maladies in the Current Education System

In my opinion, the biggest drawback in the current education system is the pressure on the students created by family, teachers, and even their friends.

  • Most students are affected emotionally, which at times manifests itself physically too, when they perform or underperform in their exams and tests. A sense of pride is felt by a student when he/she excels at something or scores good marks. That student receives praises from peers, teachers and his/her family. What happens when a student doesn’t do well? As parents and teachers…you know what I am talking about. From grounding to admonition to warning to whatnots.
  • Things like arguments, fights and disputes at home, a news item on TV, an accident on the street can cause a child to be concerned, worried, anxious or/and stressed.  But on the day of the exam, during those two crucial hours, the child is expected to become a robot and just deliver. It is not just the Board exam, it can be a simple class test for 20 marks. Delivery is the key!
    • If I have an argument with my mother and it doesn’t end well, I tend to spend my day at school, thinking about it, the stress does linger.  I find it difficult to compartmentalize and just deliver.  Many a times I have seen my marks dip because of something that has happened outside of academics. A death in my friend’s family, a fight with my friend, a teacher shouting at me…it does upset my equilibrium and it does impact my performance. What does schooling in this context teach me – be a human one moment, become a stoic saint the very next!
  • Another aspect of schooling that I am baffled about is the expectations put on us, the poor children, by all of you, our dear parents and teachers.
    • There is a Sanskrit phrase given in the top of the invite for this confluence, it’s Neti, Neti…not this alone, not that alone. This phrase pretty much summarizes our life. Expectations galore. Not just a 70 plus, getting ninety or above in pretty much all the subjects; not this alone., we need to excel in everything; not this alone – be a Mother Teresa too; not this alone – be an Eistein too; not this alone…I am kind of exaggerating! Hope you guys got my point?
    • How do I know this expectations-business? Unfortunately through my friends. Many of my friends from other schools hardly come out to play once they come to high school because they have to get this 99.99%.  Focus and perseverance is a good thing. But only that? I have also heard some schools let go of their students who score less than 80% or 70% in their annual exam in the 8thor 9thgrade. This I am not exaggerating…
    • What does schooling in this context teach me – that I learn to bequeath my life to the adults in my life and that I become a mere sidekick, an insignificant character in my own life!
  • When all these pressures are put on us, some of us cope. Some of us survive. Some of us break.  Personally for me, pressure causes me to lose focus and concentration, and takes away the will and energy to sustain and continue with my work.
    • What does this aspect of schooling teach me – stop being a human, become a pressure cooker.

I know I am exaggerating again!

Schooling in Prakriya

Having spent thirteen years in Prakriya, I don’t know what it feels like to be the new kid at school. In all my time here, I’ve realised that our school tries, really tries, to look at the wholesome development of each child, help him/her to face the obstacles of childhood rather than emphasising on just exams and studies. Prakriya extensively encourages us to showcase our talents and pursue things we have a passion for.

Prakriya is an exception to the case. When would a school like Prakriya become a norm and not an exception …

Conclusion

That said, for the current post- industrial and rapidly globalising world, the prevailing education system is rather inefficient. Schooling should be about the future – future of us, our society and the planet. It should not be rooted in the ethos and priorities of industrial revolution and/or colonization. Schooling, as I said, is about three things, which can be represented in circles:

  • One circle is me
  • Another circle is society/community
  • A third circle linking me and the community – livelihood options, understanding my rights and responsibilities, my values and beliefs.

Diyaa Kumar – Class 10


 

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