What is Schooling For?

Image courtesy Lisha Menon

Schooling is defined as the education we receive at school. Students come to school for various reasons: some of us come to learn our favorite subjects, some come to spend time with their friends and build on relationships; yet others may come to school because they have been sent here by their parents. Few of my friends have said that they go to school just to play football.

The purpose of schooling, according to me, is this – it gives me a foundation to build my future on; it opens up opportunities for growth. Schooling also shows me a pathway to my dreams and goals. Schooling, I hope and believe, would not only help me achieve them, but also would provide me with tools like time management, discipline, learning from mistakes and persistence; these tools are made available to me even after I leave school. .

If you ask me, “what is schooling for?” now, as I stand before you, I will passionately list all of the above plus one more important aspect, which is the belief and value system that I pick up in my schooling years.  After my chat with Madhur aunty and as I was mulling over, reflecting on this very question, the one thought, the one idea that stood out for me was my values. As I pondered, I realized that one value that I earnestly try to adhere to, is to be non-judgmental, non-evaluative.

Evaluating a person before we even know him/her. Sounds familiar? Yes, all of us tend to do this. We see a person and quickly jump to conclusions. A person is short, tall, fat, slim, short hair, long hair, speaks Kannada, speaks French, loves football, loves basketball, listens to MS Subbulakshmi, listens to Coldplay… we quickly browse through the images and experiences etched in our mental map, put two and two together, analyze and quickly arrive at a conclusion.

This value, of being non-evaluative is one that I picked up in my schooling, here at Prakriya. I am sure this value I will carry with me all my life.

So, the next question to ask: How did I pick up this value? Was this value taught to me by a teacher? Did I have a chapter on non-evaluative relationships? Did I write an exam for this? Was I graded and given marks? No. I picked up this value through my experiences.

There is something called unconscious learning which a child picks up from his/her environment. I am sure this value of striving to be non-evaluative can be attributed to my home and school environment.

My beliefs and values define who I am. Are schools teaching us some of the fundamental values to be a human? I remember my mom telling me this: “we have more scientists and engineers now more than ever before; we have doctors and architects now more than ever before. We also have wars, violence, destruction, disease now more than ever before.”  Why is this? I strongly believe that this paradox is created because we have taken out “values and beliefs” from our schools. From our conversations. From our imagination.

I see many a times, children and adults asking questions like, “What is the mark you have got in math? Or how did you do in your exams?” Not once have I heard anyone asking, enquiring about values. “What is that you believe in?” Isn’t this required in today’s times?  Shouldn’t school play a vital role in asking these questions of us?

I strongly believe that purpose of schooling should be this – to enable us to develop our own value system. A school should be place where unconscious learning and internalizing of values happens naturally.  This needs be the single, most important purpose of schooling, besides teaching us content, skills and rigour.

All of us face multitudes of challenges in school – bullying, non-acceptance, non- inclusion, finding the ‘right’ group, fitting-in, etc etc. I can go on and on. The list is endless.  My question is this – why are children bullied? Why are certain children excluded? Why is so much energy is spent on fitting-in? Schools, in my opinion, should help me to find answer to these questions besides testing my knowledge-retention ability. Schools, in my opinion, should also enable to manage these challenges and help me to acquire the life- skills such as standing up for myself, learning to include myself, welcoming others into the group, learning to take charge etc.

I also believe that every child in this world needs and deserves a school. In short,

School – A space where I learn and grow

School – a place where I make friendships true

School – a culture that I imbibe

And values that I strive for.

Drithi Anand – Class 9


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