Tuesday, March 5, 2013


It will be annual diary time for teachers soon. There will be records to fill up; lists of textbooks and duties, method of teaching, detailed syllabi, workshops attended, special efforts for bright students, remedial measures to improve the weak and of course, most important of all, what inspired the teacher most during the session.


The challenge is of acknowledgment. There are indeed two levels at which the school operates, much like the Hindu system of consciousness levels. The surface is represented by its public interface. There is the school diary, website, speeches made on official functions, the school magazine, assembly addresses by school heads. One hears of the school being a tree of knowledge, a centre for learning, the nursery that nurtures leaders and aims at an all-round development. There is another level however, at which young lives singe and burn in the cauldron called school life. It is not obvious to the eye but there are daily glimpses in student aggression, in creative graffiti, in groupism, in exclusion of others, in bullying and risky behaviour. As a teacher, you would wish for a horizon where these two worlds converged.

It has to start with the question of what schools are trying to do. The staff, the resources, the CBSE, the related paraphernalia; do we have a system that focuses on empowering a student or eliminating him at various levels? Do we celebrate or crush differences? Are we building young people who are force multipliers or are we churning out force dividers?

At the moment, there is a focus on a version of discipline based on a strong sense of shame. The measuring scale has been marking only one unit: test scores. There is an ocean of untapped original talent that has been drying up for lack of attention and recognition. While we could be learning from students who have things to say, we line them up for scrutiny under glasses tinted with pre conceived notions. And the outcome is legions of young who leave schools feeling an odd mix of grief and relief.

CCE! The “continuous and comprehensive evaluation of students that covers all aspects of their development” may correct that by forcing teachers to look at their students more closely. We keep bemoaning their lack of attention in class. It is we in fact who need to pay them more attention. 

For attention gives life and vitality.

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