I can remember even today intrinsically the teachers from my primary school. I studied in a matriculation school in a small town. Though my memories of KG remain vague, I can still remember the day when I was sobbing uncontrollably and my teacher then, Usha Madam consoled me saying- “ You need not cry. In life, things like this happen. You must know to overcome hurdles in life. Losing the first rank is not an issue. You can do that next time, but you must never lose hope on small things like this.” With her kind smile, a pale yellow rose tucked in her small tight bun, I can always remember of her as someone who taught me to pull on in life, whatever happens. I can remember Kamala Madam and Fatima Madam, the duo sisters who almost developed the school from a scratch, along with Usha Madam. Not that I berate the other teachers, i just remember the amount of hard work and dedication they gave to the school and to the children. My mother was a teacher too. I grew up in a circle of teachers, their children, their families and the bonding with them helped me face life as a better human being.
Academic achievements were not the only arena of interest back then. My school was more innovative, they gave us compulsory vocational classes- basic stitching, karate, music, violin, gardening and Quiz Club. Everyday the school Assembly had a short news being read, so that every student was aware of what was going around the world. Our Sports Days, Founders Day, Childrens’ Day- all days were a visual and cultural treat for us. Our teachers were so involved with our progress, they clapped with us, cried on our failures and encouraged us to move forward. I can remember Baskaran Sir, who attended public debates ( Pattimandram) with teachers on a side and students like me on the other side! I grew up not by merely memorizing the books, but by participating in anything under the sun- Quiz, Poetry, Recitation, Essay Writing, Short races, Hand ball, shotput and discus. Our library was a place which I loved the most, with rows and rows of books.
This is not to discuss my scholastic achievements in detail, but to ponder on the educational system today. We have an interesting maze of syllabus today- ICSE, CBSE, Matric, AICSE, State Board. Each syllabus is different and the competency levels of children in each type largely vary. Whatever the board, the focus these days is on results, nothing else. Schools are not worrying about creating good individuals, they are rather interested in filling their coffers by showing academic excellence. Education is the most profitable business today and most Matric schools today have teachers who work for paltry pays. So obviously, those who are left with no other jobs settle down in teaching jobs, shifting jobs every few months. The recent changes the Tamil Nadu Government is trying to bring about are welcome, regulating fee structure in schools, compulsory infrastructural development, restructuring the State Board syllabus and abolishing the TANCET to name a few. But is this enough?
The society's outlook in education is to change first. We like to grow our children as potential money makers, not as responsible human beings. Our own dreams of medicine, engineering and management are programmed into innocent children's brains so much, that they lose all innocence of childhood. How many watch butterflies on an early morning? How many of them catch a firefly, see a glorious bloom? Hardly any.
Our attitude needs a change. First, our educational system is badly in need of vital reforms, the rich are alone not entitled to quality education. Remember, its only education that brought us up here. Secondly, it will be education and great teachers who will shape up our children too. And last but not the least, as parents, we must offer our children some breathing space, to be children, not as an agent who will get a US Visa for us!