If only everyone had kept it simple!

I have worked my entire enjoyable working life in schools. I have also seen the workings of a school system from angles most people cannot even imagine, can exist. All this has always helped me to get under the skin of all school operations within days. And it was beneficial because never having the habit of overexposing my skills led to environments thinking I was a novice.

The varied comprehensions and insights gained through these innumerable years has often led me to argue some sanity wherever I was heard or allowed to speak. My arguments were based on straight forward, uncomplicated observations.

Schools should keep learning simple. An environment wherein the student interacts and actively participates along with his/her mentor – the teacher/teachers – in diverse ways and both figure out either together or through active discussion as to how learning should happen, all the while the mentor being aware of how it is progressing and are they getting the desired results.

We learnt this way. Our teachers were our bedrock in our learning and exploring journey and for us even in the adolescent ages beyond Grade 10 too, they were our most important guides. It was in the way learning was tackled and given a finish that made it noteworthy.

Today the education system is wound up in a mire and imbroglio of its own creation. Since everything related to an education system is inter-linked, no one stakeholder can function in a vacuum. If things are not working some place, it is always because there is a dis-functioning someplace else.

Remember that cute little poem which every teacher puts outside their door or every school would have used at some point of their evolution? The one which started quite dramatically with the words: “I dreamt I stood in a studio…….”, & only went on to show each of us involved in the education process that its only the teacher/school and the parent who are responsible for making the child who he/she turns out to be.

So, in these COVID times when there is this struggle to keep up with curriculum studies via online classes. And an endless debate about why schools should collect fees in a scenario when no child is going to school. Never mind that teachers are working hard along with their own household work in a daily routine with kids, in-laws, husband, other family members expecting them to do their bit/part of work because she is ‘seen’ at home. Never mind that none of the expert pundits would themselves shake even a single proverbial leaf for nothing in return but think that if teachers are taking the classes from home so they are enjoying in the comfort of their homes. No big deal!

With all and sundry, having an opinion, voicing it irrespective of whether anyone is paying heed or not, whether anyone has the expertise in dealing with such peculiar times or not, has become immaterial. I have been in the filed for almost 3 decades, have taught the most difficult age groups all my life, designed workable & successful curriculums for those who start their schooling, written two books, delved into the lives of amazing Icons to understand how brilliantly, successful people add richness to the education scene – Boss, with all this experience I shan’t consider myself an ‘expert’ to voice definitive views on how and what is the way forward within this scary virus scenario. But we have everyone becoming judgemental, doctrinaire, nit-picking ….the list is endless.

As if anyone of us have ever faced such a situation before.

Our politicians have trained us well – to be all gas, no substance. Play to the galleries. A few shocking bites and the media sit up to listen. I continue to urge everyone around to exercise restraint. Some moderation hurts said no one ever.

Let us be magnanimous. We banged plates, lighted lamps, stayed indoors with no help from anyone but ourselves for 70 plus days and we still are willing to give our governments and their leaders that extra slack. Then why are we not being considerate and big-hearted with our child’s school? Why are we not being open-minded and non-interventionist when schools and our child’s teachers are figuring out how best to keep in touch and teach too, effectively? Why are we not being accepting and understanding and charitable if the small creases or even big ones are seen and being ironed out? Everything which is done for the first time looks a bit tacky. We gain finesse with multiple practises, with doing something repetitively. I call myself a ‘veteran’ with school operations, but I say it cautiously and guardedly because I know that every new generation of learners has the inherent capability of springing that ultimate surprise on their teachers. And I learn from them in my every interaction with them, to my delight. That is what keeps the going in this field worth it.

However, the malaise and the disquiet today towards schools and their operations, I feel lies in the recent development of relying too much on advertisements, unnecessary show and the annoying spectacle which most of the schools make of ‘education’ and end up calling it thus too. Tag lines, jargons, politically correct statements and assertions of wielding an almost magical wand on the child the minute he/she walks past the hallowed doors/gates of a school transforming him/her into a ‘perfect’ global citizen has worsened the situation. Along with this the pointless & unwarranted expenditure on superfluous aspects of education is bound to lead to a faster disillusionment of the parent from the school. A school’s fees structure has over a period come to include needless and unessential portions of amounts under meaningless heads which add up to enormous school fee dues. If all those who run schools were to keep their hands on their hearts and  answer candidly, only a few will be guilt free about having their school fees paying a major chunk as salaries to trained, qualified & experienced staff. Club this with an insensitivity of not keeping a balance between sanity & understanding that one’s coffers can only be filled up in exchange of undisputed quality of service which will lead to an increase of numbers in strength and also lead to an invaluable, priceless build up in brand value which is concrete and lasting and we have landed ourselves the perfect concoction of mistrust & scepticism.

Awake and arise everyone before it is too late. The virus itself has taught us valuable lessons in simplicity and its benefits.

Bring it back into our education system too.

The equation there is simple, I have always believed.

Invest in excellent staff = absolute belief and trust in the school = admired and celebrated acceptance & trust in both from parents.

Ultimate result: A wonderful human being who is a lifelong learner.

I could not ask for anything better being a teacher myself.

Many years ago, as my son passed out of Kindergarten and Grade 1 I encouraged him to make up a story….what you above and in the following images is what he thought up off, I illustrated it for him after which he colored it and presented it to his teachers . I remember the disbelief and in-credulousness with which his presentation was greeted ….needless to add that this 6 year old is today a good story-teller, writes extremely well, expresses himself even better, gives taglines with his signature gift-of-gab and has emerged as a wonderful learner because the parent kept faith in the education system and despite the pitfalls remained positive!

From loving his ‘Three Little Pigs’ story to death and which was his chosen story even for his SLC in PPI…. the names, the situations were most creative!
…and the love for animals continues…….
I wonder where the thought came from……
I stumbled on this as I cleared my cupboard of old clutter which I thought I did not want to carry to our new home, from years of school life! And what a treasure!
I look back on those years and with my son’s escapist attitude with writing and wanting to convey everything orally – like this story – I pat my back that as a parent I never doubted my child’s ability to succeed and do well, irrespective of opinions for which I cared not! The only thing which mattered was his happiness! I always kept it simple: Never expected more than what I knew a school and a teacher could do in six hours with my naughty child and I did the rest as was my role!

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