I was lucky to attend an arguably good school in New Delhi, since many children don’t even have the luxury to go to school in the first place. But I never thought that I fitted in there. It was too conservative and narrow for my diverse interests and will to explore. Sure, that’s probably true of every Indian School, but that doesn’t mean one should be okay with it.
When I look back at my school memories, I only see myself suffering because of either of the following limitations my school posed on me morally. I sometimes feel like throwing a Foucault book on my school teacher’s and authorities’ faces.
- Conservatism and sexual Shaming :
- Counsellor/teachers stalked kids on Facebook and blackmailed them that they’ll call up their parents: The school counselor, once in 8th grade blackmailed me that she will call up my parents and tell them “what I do on facebook”.
- Around 8th and 9th grade, all the “social” girls slowly left school because of all the threats they were receiving from the authorities about wearing short skirts, putting too much kajal etc. Their parents were called up and told that they were “Talking to too many boys”. I didn’t understand why these calls were never made to the parents of any male students.
- They were so afraid of people dating. Couples were often shamed and “busted” by the counselors. Their parents too were called up and “informed” of this bizarre and unusual teenage activity.
- No equal opportunity:
- There was a workshop on foreign Education and they took the kids who are good at studies which makes no sense because they don’t know if these kids will benefit from that workshop or not since they have no idea if they want to study abroad or not. Instead, they should should have checked who is interested in studying abroad and made those kids attend the workshop to make the venture fruitful.
- There was a workshop on Film making and instead of taking kids who were interested, they had already made a list of kids who probably had the “aptitude” for it. (and most of them weren’t even interested, they were forced). The workshop ended up being monotonous because hardly any students were interested to attend as they were forced.
- Only a few selected kids were chosen for competitions, pretty much since childhood. If one were to perhaps check if diverse students got opportunities, they would find consistency in the names.
- Undervalued co-curricular engagement: The academic co-curriculars that included debating, science/math Olympiads etc were respected but things like dance, music art/painting were really not respected. People involved in these were looked down upon as dumb and just doing it to “skip classes” and have fun. To get permission for attending practices was tougher than getting a kind and trustworthy boyfriend in middle school. The senior coordinator in 12th grade told my mom that my friends and I have a certain “gang”. She made up some cheap gossip and told the teachers as well that my friend went to competitions (most of which she won, btw) and practices only so that she could “miss classes and have fun”. Even though they advertised themselves as “holistic” and working on the “all round development of the child”, it really wasn’t true.
- Over-emphasis on rote learning: Independent content creation just wasn’t valued, plagiarism was always encouraged. I did a project on “identity crisis” and out of 20 pages, I wrote 2 all by myself which were “Similar problems” and “Fun ways to cope”. I was excited to tell my teacher about this but to my utter disgust, she was not very happy and advised me to “copy it from the net” the next time. We were literally told what exactly to write in our exams, but I guess that’s a flaw with the education system of the country, and not really the school.
- No freedom of speech/expression: The student council had no say or control. The head girl/boy were puppets of teachers. They were also not chosen fairly- it all depended on how much ass licking you did. The last year of my high school, we had a new principle who was truly a dictator. The authorities apparently found out that there was a facebook page that had memes on our school, teachers, students and she called up each parent of the 12th grade to complain about that. More than 80% of the batch’s parents were called to school in suspicion. It was nuts. We were also forced to be “proud” of our school. *Modi bells ringing*
- Disregarding the arts/humanities: Humanities, as a stream was very new in my school, and my batch was literally the second batch studying it. The Chairperson in her speech once mentioned“acha school agar bache ko doc/engineer banana hai, toh amity bhejna chahiye” (if you want your children to become engineers or doctors, send them to Amity). The coordinator always looked down upon the kids with humanities. She used to say things like “you guys have easy subjects” and hardly even need to study. Once one of the accountancy teachers said “all the girls who’ve picked humanities will grow up to be housewives”.
- Mean teachers: There was a particular Hindi teacher who taught 5th grade & above students and an English teacher who taught 10th grade and above who would always humiliate, demotivate and almost harass kids if they didn’t perform too well. Even after numerous complaints, they aren’t thrown out. Instead of being compassionate and kind, they’d just go on and on about how no one was worth anything and would end up doing nothing. And it’s not even like they taught well.