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Part 4 – Students themselves tell us what they want in a school! Are we ready to listen, minus judgement?

Forget about what students ‘need’. Students themselves tell us what they want! Are we ready to listen, minus judgement? Here is the third part in our series on children’s views on their dream school.

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From the government to the management to educators to parents – everyone seems to have a say in the school system but for the main stakeholders: the children themselves. With World Children’s Day (November 20) and National Children's Day (November 14) this month, ScooNews threw open its pages, inviting this long-neglected and most important segment – children – to tell us exactly how they envision their dream school. Read on, educators, there might be nuggets of value for us all in here…

“Each class would have freshers, juniors and seniors”
Arjun Sahai

My thought for an ideal school would be one with only fun and excitement. The school would be circular in shape and blue in colour. There would be no particular dress to wear, and children would have the permission to leave whenever they wanted. There would be exciting sections like a petting zoo, a swimming pool and a park. There would have also been a fairy tale room with different fairy tale characters. To eat, children would have to go to the ‘fairy tale food restaurant’. In this restaurant, there would be foods that one reads and sees in fairy tales like rainbow ice-cream, insect pizza, wizard pie, dinosaur popsicle and dragon’s drink. This school would also have a reading room with different sorts of books and it would be painted in different colours. Each student could go to any room whenever they wanted to. Each student would have to pay Rs.10 before entering a room because the money would help to make more exciting rooms in the school. There would be different sports fields and courts in the school.

There would be only a few teachers in this school, some strict and some fun. The strict teachers would like discipline in the classes, and the fun teachers would let the children do whatever they liked. In each class, there would been three batches – freshers, juniors and seniors – so that children could make friends with children elder to them. I would love to go to a school like this. It would feel like a being on a holiday!

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(Eight-year-old Arjun Sahai studies in class III, at National Public School)

“What the child thinks should get jotted down on the smartboard”
Tavishi Saxena

Tweet-tweet, buzz-buzz; such melodious and peace providing sounds which help to concentrate with an increasing ease, is what I want as the environment of my school. The magnanimous, technophile and eco-friendly classroom with extra relaxing, cushioned sofas should be a classroom. This would keep the children content and lead them to study without being pressurized. For me, my dream school should have escalators and the attendance should be by a face detector. There should be glass walls and when swiped the scenic beauty should be changed. The smartboards should be linked in a way that what the child thinks is jotted down on the screen giving a great exposure to the thinking of every child. I would like to have different study methods like for humanities we can have a play and enact the people to get a better and fruitful understanding. The educators should teach with a great passion and encourage the children by bringing out talents that are not only in direction of science but a fusion of scientific and artistic mind. Thinking and passion for learning should be the basis of a child’s genius. Smart classes can be more fun to learn and movies related to the subject should also be projected. We can discuss a lecture on Facebook or create a google hangout to talk about a class assignment.

Play and laughter are said to simulate the imagination and to increase the neuro-transmitters for memory and alertness so, we should have a positive learning environment allowing us to play in between to shape our brain, revitalise our soul and open our imagination. Home assignments should not be based on absorbing large amounts of factual knowledge but it should have the three Cs: critical thinking, collaboration and creativity. Now we come to the most favourite part that every child adores and it’s none other than FOOD! The ambrosial and fresh smell of the yummy food should activate the olfactory senses of the children. The kids should be given a few intervals to eat their loved food and this would help them to study with a refreshing mind. All these things, according to me, should be added in the school but at the end a school also has some moral values and I do not want them to be removed. The children when being given so many comforts should not find it difficult to follow the rules and principles of the school.

(Tavishi Saxena, 13, studies in grade VIII, Jayshree Periwal International School, Mahapura, Jaipur. Her Instagram/ Facebook page Swirlingbrushes@tavishiart displays her passion for art)

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“Teachers will allow us to speak out our minds”
Chrisanne D’Souza

My dream school would be fun and interesting. There would be various types of activities for all kids. The lesson periods would contain fun learning and less writing. The playground will be extraordinary, with swings, slides, and even fountains! During recess, we would go to the cafeteria where different types of snacks would be served. The uniforms will be colourful and we will be allowed to wear party clothes once a week – or have costume days. The teachers should allow us to speak out our minds. School bags should contain very few books, which will be easy to carry. There should also be a classroom for pets, where kids can interact with animals.

(Chrisanne D’Souza is in class V, St. Anne’s High School, Malad, Mumbai)

“My dream school students will make the change others want to see…”
Arnav Bachheti

"School is a building which has four walls with tomorrow inside.” – Lon Watters

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The school of my dream would be like a haven for the students. Everyone would be treated equally. There would be no fee, and mid-day meals would be provided to them. My dream school would be an ordinary school but the difference would be in the students and their thinking. Every single activity would be there. There would be no force to study. If a child thinks his career is in sports rather than in academics he /she will be encouraged. I wish for a school that teaches its students to be a little mischievous and naughty yet well behaved and grounded. There would be picnics and excursions. National and international trips would be held. Annual Day and Sports Day will be held where many reputed persons would be called as chief guests. The school of my dream would have three playgrounds, one swimming pool, one roller rink, and much more.

Children would learn that if they are not willing to learn, no one can help them but if they are determined to learn no one can stop them. My dream school students will make the change others want to see in this world. They will prove themselves to the people who think that average people can't do anything. My school would have evening practice classes for sports and other co-curricular activities. On certain days teachers would not come to classes. Students themselves will be the teachers, educators and facilitators. Students will learn collaborative skills, group management skills and, above all, social and thinking skills. They would have the best technology, including laptops and educom. My dream school would definitely make me say in future – “School life is the best phase of life.”

(Arnav Bachheti, a student of Army Public School, Birpur, Dehradun, studies in class VIII.)

"Nobody must feel out of place or lonely…"
Lakshmi Premkumar

Every school student would definitely have an answer to this question. Each one of us have our own dream of what we would want our school to be like.

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I would want our teachers to interact with us and ask more questions to ignite our minds. This would make us interested in classes, unlike now when it’s just the teachers who talk and talk and all we can do is sit and nod our heads in agreement. According to me, an interesting class should be an interactive session between the teachers and students. We should be allowed to ask endless number of questions.

Each student has different interests. One student may like Math whereas another student may like history. I strongly feel we must just be taught the basics of all the subjects and then we should be given the option to choose the subjects we like.

Classes should not be confined to a room with four walls. There is so much we can learn from outside. Sitting inside a room and just reading books and writing notes are not enough. We can learn so much by just interacting with people or by observing nature and people. Math doesn’t necessarily mean I need to sit in a class and work all the sums. I can go to a basket ball ground and be asked to find the perimeter and area of the ground. Nowadays it is hands on were that makes us interested.

In my dream school there must be a place for everybody to fit in. Nobody must feel out of place or lonely. There should be a place for students who love sports, for students who aspire to take up music or students who like indoor activities.

Another thing that children seem to have is exams. I could say I am terrified and that I loathe exams. The fact that a piece of paper can decide your future sounds ridiculous to me. Children are compared based on how much they score. This makes them feel either too smart and inferior or too proud and egoistic. In my school there would be no comparison. Exams have to be written, because it is what our Education system wants, but no child shall be judged by their marks. The only criteria for judging would be their social skills and behavior, because at the end of the day when you go to the real world and interact with people you need to come off as well-mannered person.

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These are some of the things I would look for in my dream school so that at the end of the day we are all equal. No one is better than the other, and there is no comparison between intelligent and dumb or rich and poor.

(Lakshmi Premkumar, a student of C S Academy,Coimbatore studies in class X. Her ambition is to be a Journalist.)

This story was our Childrens' Day special feature in the November 2017 issue.

Header image courtesy – Pixabay

Read Part 3 Here

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Education

What It Takes to Be Well-Educated; Not Just Well-Read

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The need to bridge the gap between what should be and what’s being delivered in the school educational system in India is most severe than ever before. As we see the rise in the number of Indians as global leaders in the corporate, tech, art and political sector we must ask ourselves whether we are catering to the demand of 21st century and doing justice to our younger generation or not!

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that India is living in one of its best times in terms of industrial growth, demand of higher education and service sector, religious and spiritual awakening and humongous rise in the national infrastructure and the commitment to grow further can definitely be seen when 3.3 percent of total GDP has been outlaid for infrastructure in Union Budget 2023-24 but at the same time this peak also alarms the need to prepare thought leaders, logical/critical individuals, go getters and prepare the most efficient workforce for the years to come.

What we need to deliver to the younger generation along with the industrial and employable skill is the idea and importance of mental health, argumentative skills, decision making skill, communication skill and to summarize the contemporary demand in a single word is to be the ‘human’ first in a way that the almighty intended us to be i.e. just, fair, hardworking with balanced scientific temperament. Even World Health Organization expressed serious concern over mental health issue of adolescents by stating that globally, one in seven 10-19-year-olds experiences a mental disorder, accounting for 13% of the global burden of disease in this age group.

NEP 2020 points out several changes in the formal education policy right from the pre-school till the university space but the right steps for its most efficient implementation so as to achieve a holistic and comprehensive development is still a long way to go. As per the All India Survey on Higher Education 2019 report, India’s higher education sector consists of 3.74 crore students in nearly 1,000 universities, 39,931 colleges, and 10,725 stand-alone institutions. Thus, a countrywide implementation of this mega education policy is going to be a mammoth exercise involving multiple stakeholders at the state, district, sub-district, and block levels.

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Change and regularly updating the curriculum, minimum standard maintenance of quality education, teachers training and uniformity amongst several state and national board are few urgent and at most necessary steps amongst other factors. And the functionaries of these changes aren’t just educational leaders and teachers but the parents and students themselves. They need to ask the right questions, consider all the factors such as time, investment and opportunities and be firm while saying a big NO to sub standard institutions which are just making a hole in their pockets in return of nothing more than a window dressing in the name of mark sheet and degree based system.

We have already achieved remarkable feet in terms of numeracy and literacy skills for foundation classes/toddlers, the Annual Status of Education Report says that in 2023, 73.6% of 14-18 year-olds could read a Class 2 level text, and arithmetically, in 2023, 43.3% of youth could do a simple (class 3-4 level) division problem; our graduates are breaking glass ceiling with every passing hour when it comes to innovation, design and product enhancement, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) recognized 1,17,254 startups as on 31st December 2023 and as per the Economic Survey Report 2022-23 in 2022 alone, homegrown startups generated 2.69 Lacs jobs in the country. 

With the rising trend of Ed-tech and content creation through media there is plethora of knowledge awaiting to be learned but international exposure, state of the art facilities and hefty charges alone cannot cater to the students’ needs but developing emotional quotient, awakening self awareness and the sense of integrity and service motive is what’s going to sustain the social ecosystem in a way which will result into an overall development of the younger generation thus achieving social, economical, political development and a level playing field for every opportunity that our beautiful world has to offer.

This article is co-authored by:
CA, Suresh Prabhu, Founding Chancellor , Rishihood University; Visiting Professor at London School of Economics; Former Union Minister of Railways
Rajat Shah, Advocate; Edupreneur/Trustee, Narayani Public School; Visiting Professor of Law and Management.

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Education

Education Through a ‘Humane’ Lens

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Picture Credits: Anipixels

Our history has traditionally embraced the importance of building relationships with animals. From an animal’s loyalty to bravery, various instances have been highlighted in historical texts and scriptures (Mahabharata and Ramayana). Many children grew up listening to stories, stories of compassion; further encouraging them to experience the human-animal bond. But in recent years, as we witness an increase in animal cruelty and pet abandonment cases, compassion seems to be at a loss today.

According to the report findings by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) and All Creatures Great and Small (ACGS), between 2010-2020, a total of 4,93,910 animals were victims of crimes committed by humans. Keeping in mind that many cases go unreported, out of the 720 documented cases of crime against street animals, 20 cases were of assault by children. With nearly 50% of India’s population under the age of 25, such revelations underscore the urgent need to cultivate empathy and compassion from a young age. Humane Education, an approach that cultivates children to be empathetic and compassionate not only towards fellow beings but also all sentient beings, is an important pillar of 21st-century sensibilities. 

(Picture Credits: Peedu’s People)

“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.”Maria Montessori

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Founded in 2021, India Animal Fund (IAF) along with NGOs like Peedu’s People; are working to ensure wholesome child development through holistic learning for school children. For young children and students to make informed and ethical choices, through humane education sessions, we introduce them to this concept via experiential, learning, observational and application learning. “Along with our partner Peedu’s People, we have delivered over 250 sessions across India. Around 10K+ children were introduced to humane education and workshops reached over 55 schools. The next steps involve expanding the programme and integrating it into the NCERT syllabus for broader reach.” says Sandeep Reddy, COO – India Animal Fund (IAF). From environmental conservation to social justice, such initiatives are crucial for creating a sustainable and equitable society. 

Another study from Science Directs indicates that children who exhibit cruelty towards animals may have witnessed or experienced family violence and are at risk of engaging in human-directed aggression during adolescence and adulthood. Implementing such programmes not only prevents violence, but also increases the likelihood of detecting and intervening early. Not only would it be beneficial for the children from K-12, if implemented in the school curriculum, via teacher training programmes, educators or schoolteachers can also be equipped with the tools and resources needed to integrate humane education into their teaching practices.

While we have animal protection laws in our country, this strategic investment may lead to a cornerstone of our educational system. By nurturing empathy and compassion among children today, we can empower the next generation to build a better world for all living beings, for them to navigate an increasingly interconnected and complex world.

Authored By-
Nidhi Gupta
Manager- Content and Communications,
India Animal Fund (IAF) 

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Education

Why Sex Education in Schools is a Battlefield: A Look into Recent Debates and the Path Forward

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Sex education in schools has once again found itself in the eye of a political storm. In the UK, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent overhaul of sex education and gender identity teachings in England’s schools has sparked intense debate. As reported by CNN, Sunak’s administration claims the changes provide much-needed clarity, but critics argue they are politically motivated and detrimental to students’ wellbeing.

The Current Debate

The newly unveiled guidelines mandate that children cannot be taught sex education before the age of nine, with explicit discussions on sexual activity delayed until age 13. Additionally, the concept of gender identity is deemed “highly contested” and is to be excluded from the curriculum. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan emphasized that teachers should impart facts rather than push agendas, a statement that has further fueled the controversy.

Pepe Di’lasio, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, criticized the move as being driven by a “political agenda at the front of a campaign season.” He pointed out the lack of substantial evidence backing the changes, suggesting they are more about garnering votes than genuinely addressing educational needs.

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The Politics of Sex Education

Sunak’s approach is seen by many as a bid to win over socially conservative voters ahead of an impending general election. This strategy has involved a series of divisive announcements, with sex education being the latest target.

Critics, including Paul Whiteman of the National Association of Head Teachers, argue that the rigid limits on discussions could drive students to seek information from unreliable sources. Sam Freedman, a senior advisor at the Ark education charity, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the educational value of discussing contested topics like gender identity in a balanced manner.

The Case for Comprehensive Sex Education

The debate over sex education isn’t limited to the UK. In India, where traditional attitudes often dominate, the need for comprehensive sex education is equally pressing. According to a 2022 survey by the Indian Journal of Community Medicine, only 20% of Indian adolescents reported receiving formal sex education. This gap leaves many young people ill-equipped to navigate their sexual health and relationships safely.

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Sex education opponents often cite cultural and moral grounds, fearing that such education might corrupt young minds. However, evidence suggests otherwise. A UNESCO report from 2018 highlighted that comprehensive sex education can lead to delayed sexual initiation, reduced risk-taking, and increased use of contraception, thereby reducing rates of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

Breaking the Stigma

The stigma surrounding sex education often stems from misconceptions and a lack of understanding. Addressing these misconceptions requires a multi-faceted approach:

1. Parental Involvement: Engaging parents in the dialogue around sex education can help demystify the topic and alleviate fears. Schools should offer workshops and resources to help parents understand the curriculum and its benefits.

2. Teacher Training: Educators need robust training to handle sex education topics sensitively and effectively. This includes understanding diverse perspectives and being equipped to support students’ varied needs.

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3. Evidence-Based Policies: Policymaking should be grounded in research rather than political agendas. Studies consistently show that comprehensive sex education supports better health outcomes. Policymakers must prioritize students’ long-term wellbeing over short-term political gains.

4. Community Engagement: Building community support for sex education involves transparent communication and collaboration with local leaders, healthcare professionals, and advocacy groups. Creating a community consensus can help overcome resistance and build a supportive environment for students.

A Path Forward

The controversy over sex education in schools highlights a broader issue: the tension between political agendas and educational integrity. While Sunak’s new guidelines may cater to a specific voter base, they risk undermining the comprehensive education that young people need to thrive.

In both the UK and India, breaking the stigma around sex education requires a commitment to evidence-based practices and an open, inclusive dialogue. By fostering understanding and addressing concerns head-on, we can create a more informed and healthier society.

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As we navigate these debates, it’s crucial to remember that the ultimate goal of education is to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. Let’s ensure that political motivations do not overshadow this fundamental objective.

(Inspired by recent analyses from CNN and BBC on UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s new education guidelines)

References:
– Rob Picheta, CNN Analysis
– The Indian Journal of Community Medicine
– UNESCO Report on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (2018)

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Education

Teaching Sensitivity to Kids in School: A Necessity for Today’s World

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In recent years, instances of bullying, violence, and other harmful behaviours have alarmingly increased among young children. Various factors contribute to this troubling trend. The omnipresence of social media, exposure to violent content, familial discord, and the high-pressure environment of academic and extracurricular achievements are significant reasons. These influences create an environment where children may not develop the necessary empathy and understanding to coexist harmoniously with their peers.

Given this backdrop, it is crucial to emphasise the teaching of sensitivity to children in schools. Sensitising kids towards each other, society, animals, nature, and humans in general is not just beneficial—it is imperative for fostering a more compassionate and cohesive community.

The Importance of Sensitivity

Firstly, teaching sensitivity is essential to combat bullying and violence. When children are taught to understand and appreciate the feelings and perspectives of others, they are less likely to engage in harmful behaviours. Empathy and kindness can act as powerful deterrents against bullying. Moreover, children who are sensitive to the emotions of their peers can contribute to a supportive and inclusive school environment, where everyone feels valued and respected.

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Furthermore, sensitivity towards society and the environment is crucial for nurturing responsible future citizens. Teaching children to care for animals, respect nature, and understand social issues instils a sense of responsibility and stewardship. This not only benefits the immediate community but also contributes to the broader goal of sustainable living and environmental conservation.

Implementing Sensitivity Education at the Grassroots Level in India

To effectively implement sensitivity education, a multifaceted approach is necessary, starting at the grassroots level. Here are several strategies that can be employed:

  1. Incorporate Sensitivity into the Curriculum: Schools should integrate lessons on empathy, kindness, and respect into the existing curriculum. Subjects like Social Studies and Environmental Science can include modules that teach children about the importance of sensitivity towards others and the environment. Stories, role-playing activities, and discussions can be powerful tools in this regard.
  2. Teacher Training and Development: Educators play a pivotal role in shaping the attitudes and behaviours of students. Providing teachers with training on how to foster empathy and sensitivity in the classroom is essential. Workshops and seminars can equip teachers with the skills and knowledge to create an inclusive and supportive learning environment.
  3. Extracurricular Activities and Clubs: Schools can organise clubs and activities that promote sensitivity. For instance, eco-clubs can engage students in activities like tree planting, waste management, and animal care, fostering a sense of responsibility towards nature. Similarly, social service clubs can involve students in community service projects, teaching them the importance of giving back to society.
  4. Parental Involvement: Sensitivity education should not be confined to the school environment. Encouraging parents to reinforce these values at home is crucial. Schools can organise workshops and provide resources to help parents understand their role in teaching empathy and kindness to their children.
  5. Creating a Safe and Inclusive School Environment: Schools should strive to create an environment where every student feels safe and valued. Anti-bullying policies, counselling services, and peer support programs can help achieve this. Additionally, celebrating diversity and promoting inclusivity through cultural events and awareness campaigns can enhance students’ understanding and appreciation of different perspectives.

Teaching sensitivity to children in school is not merely an optional add-on to education; it is a fundamental aspect of nurturing well-rounded individuals who can contribute positively to society. By addressing the rise in bullying and violence through empathy and understanding, we can create a more compassionate and harmonious community. Implementing sensitivity education at the grassroots level in India requires a collaborative effort from educators, parents, and the community. Together, we can ensure that our children grow up to be empathetic, responsible, and sensitive citizens, ready to make a positive impact on the world.

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Education

Beyond Appearances: Prachi Nigam’s Triumph and The Pressures of Appearance-Based Bullying in Schools

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Image Source- BBC Hindi

The news of Prachi Nigam, a diligent 10th UP Board Topper, unleashed a disturbing chapter in the history of our society. Despite her unquestionable academic talent being the main topic of a discussion it was superseded by the inappropriate emphasis on her appearance. These events clearly underline the intricate and destructive beauty standard that plague the learning institutions.

It perhaps resonates with the fact that, in the process, we form these gigantic LED screens of illusory beauty standards, which subsequently hover over our young, leaving long shadows behind their achievements. Even if they keep advancing up the ladder of academic strength, their way at the top is checked through the view of how attractive they are. The risk of humiliation due to poor marks and failing an exam is unavoidable. The true woe Prachi has is the desire for anonymity despite her impressive winning activities, which emphasises how emotional hearts of young people can be dysfunctional from such pressures.

Time has come for all of us, as a society, to shape direction which mostly depends on whether empathy has the right place in our classrooms or not. Let this be a lighthouse to the teachers to build suitable defences of comfort around the children thus, no kid should be caught hiding from scrutiny in the shadows. Teachers are doing not only a transmission of knowledge but also establishing an arena where jokes and laughter is shared with no one’s dignity being mocked. When a person makes fun of someone for his/her looks, it should not have a tolerance or a laughter of agreement but condemnation with the sober reminder of respect and tolerance.

The heart of our education philosophy must be the acceptance that the human body is the norm, in its different shapes, and be explained that those changes in adolescence, which are taken as anomalies, are just threads in the rich diversity of our human experience. The burden exists equally in both teaching our young boys that hair is a natural part of a woman’s presence and passing judgement or hearsay based on the absence of hair is unjustifiable, besides disrespectful.

Creating a monument for our schools is to convert them into sensitive meeting places where each child can grow up in freedom without the worry of being dug out for their uniqueness. These classrooms nurture compassion from which the saplings of mature citizens emerge; their spiritual vision awakening the logical perception which glimpses beyond obvious matters. However, beauty is a kaleidoscope, and for our brains, the time to adjust to its actual spectrum is right at hand. 

When building up such an environment, we do not just educate students, we plant the seeds of change in a world where people are cherished not by the size and shape of their bodies but by their uniqueness and achievements. The story of Prachi standing fearlessly up to the rushing flood of hate, should sound in the corridors of every school, it would be among the strongest lessons in fortitude and the ability to endure as an example.

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We are not merely shaping the students of today but creating a world where every young Prachi will find a space to fly free from unwarranted prejudices. As educators, students, and members of this complex society, we need to topple the divergent walls of superficial standards and in their place to grow a garden which allows every flower, despite how it differs from others in terms of size, colour or shape, to be valued for the gift that it brings to the world. It won’t be until after when we can say we have not failed our children, only when we can tell that we are proud of having brought up not just scholars, but decent human beings.

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Education

Unsupervised Explorations: Rethinking Student Trips

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In a tale of youthful exuberance and unforeseen peril, six students from Class 12 embarked on a journey to Goa, a rite of passage celebrated by many as a final hurrah before stepping into adulthood. With permission from their parents, who were perhaps too trusting or caught up in their own lives, the group set out with excitement pulsing through their veins. Upon landing, they were greeted not just by the balmy Goan air but by three massive SUVs, reserved for their adventure—a promise of freedom and the thrill of the open road.

Their accommodation was a sprawling villa, costing a small fortune at 70,000 INR per night, equipped with private pools and luxuriously appointed rooms. It was a palace for kings and queens of the night, a haven for six souls intertwined in the throes of adolescence. Three rooms for three couples, the arrangements were a testament to their intentions, seeking privacy and moments of unchecked passion under the guise of a holiday.

As the days unfolded, the allure of Goa’s vibrant nightlife beckoned. The students, drawn to the magnetic pull of music and dance, found themselves in the heart of the party scene, clubbing into the early hours. It was here, amidst the revelry, that they encountered individuals with sinister motives—drug peddlers who saw not just customers but vulnerable targets in these wide-eyed teenagers.

Swept up in a desire to appear worldly and sophisticated, the group made a decision that would pivot their holiday from a dream to a nightmare. They purchased drugs, a choice made without foresight or understanding of the consequences. Their naivety became their downfall when the police, vigilant and unyielding, caught them in possession of these illegal substances.

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The aftermath was swift and severe. The teenagers, underage and unprepared for the legal ramifications, were thrust into the cold reality of juvenile custody. Their parents, irrespective of their affluence, were faced with a situation no amount of money could easily resolve. Frantic and fearful, they did everything within their power to secure their children’s release, confronted with the harsh truth of their offspring’s actions.

This story, inspired by real events, serves as a stark reminder of the dangers lurking behind the facade of freedom and the allure of adulthood. It raises pressing questions about the role of guardianship and parental oversight in the lives of teenagers standing on the precipice of adulthood.

Could this grave misstep have been avoided had there been a local guardian present, a guiding light in unfamiliar territory? Would a more vigilant approach from the parents, a pause to question and understand, have rewritten the story’s conclusion? This incident forces us to confront the reality of our responsibilities towards our youth—not just to grant them freedom but to equip them with the wisdom to navigate it. As we ponder the delicate balance between trust and caution, we must ask ourselves: At what cost does freedom come, and are we doing enough to ensure that the journey into independence does not lead to a fall from grace?

To read more on such trends that need to be called out and #un-trended, head to the April issue of our magazine here

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Education

Pricey Presents, Precocious Pressures: The Cost of Gift-Giving to Children

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In the intricate fabric of contemporary society, entwined with the threads of status and materialism, the ritual of gift-giving to young children has morphed into a showcase of wealth and social stature. This tale shines a light on the ripple effect of such extravagance through the eyes of Ayaan’s peers, young souls caught in the whirlwind of competition and comparison.

When Ayaan arrives at school with sneakers worth 80k or brandishes the latest iPhone as casually as a textbook, it’s not just a display of wealth; it becomes a benchmark, setting aflame a cycle of envy and desire among his classmates. The children, innocent in their yearnings, unknowingly step onto a treadmill of materialistic pursuit, urging their parents towards the edge of financial prudence in a bid to not fall behind.

The spectacle reaches its zenith when Ayaan, in a display of unparalleled opulence, gifts iPods as return gifts on his birthday. An act, while grand, sends shockwaves through his circle, planting seeds of expectation and entitlement in young hearts. Parents, caught between nurturing happiness and teaching value, find themselves navigating a treacherous path of societal pressure and fiscal responsibility.

As each child in Ayaan’s orbit feels compelled to mirror his lavish lifestyle, the essence of childhood camaraderie is shadowed by the looming spectre of materialism. Friendships, once untainted by the world’s complexities, now bear the weight of economic disparity. The playground becomes a silent witness to conversations not of games and dreams, but of gadgets and brands, a testament to a culture veering away from the innocence of youth.

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The impact extends beyond the tangible, chipping away at the pillars of equality and mutual respect. As peers vie to outdo each other in a race fuelled by parental indulgence, the divide widens not just in their possessions but in their perceptions of self-worth and success. The classroom, a microcosm of society, reflects a disturbing trend of measuring one’s value through the lens of ownership and extravagance.

This narrative, while centred on Ayaan and his affluent displays, casts a spotlight on the broader societal implications of such gift-giving practices. It prompts a critical examination of the values we impart to our children and the world we aspire to create for them. As we navigate this maze of materialism and the stories of Ayaan and his peers unfold, they serve as a mirror to our collective conscience, urging us to reconsider the legacy we wish to leave behind. The question that beckons us to reflect is profound: Are we raising a generation that values possessions over people, status over substance?

To read more on such trends that need to be called out and #un-trended, head to the April issue of our magazine here

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Education

Addressing the Transition From Classrooms to Coaching: The Shifted Focus

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In the bustling academic corridors of Woody High, nestled amidst the verdant suburbs of a thriving city, the story of Vikram, a bright and ambitious student, begins to unfold. Vikram, like many of his peers, found himself at a crossroads as he stepped into the crucial years of 11th standard, caught between the traditional path of school education and the burgeoning trend of dummy admissions.Classrooms to Coaching: The Shifted Focus

The lure of coaching centres, promising a direct route to success in competitive exams, became increasingly irresistible. Vikram watched as one by one, his classmates traded the familiar setting of classrooms for the rigorous regimen of coaching institutes. The promise was simple: a focused preparation tailor-made for cracking entrance exams, seemingly a pragmatic choice in an increasingly competitive world.

However, this exodus from school to coaching centres revealed a deeper malaise within the education system. Schools, once vibrant communities of learning and growth, had slowly morphed into factories churning out board exam results. The holistic development of students, their readiness for the world beyond the gates of Woody High, seemed to have taken a backseat to the singular pursuit of academic scores.

Vikram’s decision to join the coaching bandwagon was met with a mix of hope and apprehension. The initial months were a blur of new concepts, relentless practice sessions, and the constant pressure to outperform. Yet, as the novelty wore off, Vikram found himself yearning for the missed debates in history class, the group projects in science, and the sense of belonging that came with being part of the school community.

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The turning point came when Vikram, amidst his packed coaching schedule, volunteered for a community project. The experience was eye-opening, highlighting the gap between the rote learning at coaching centres and the practical knowledge and soft skills required in the real world. It dawned on Vikram that education was not just about clearing exams but about building a foundation for life.

As Woody High grappled with the dwindling numbers of students in its classrooms, it became evident that a change was needed. Schools had to evolve beyond their board-result orientation, integrating curriculum with real-world applications, fostering critical thinking, and preparing students for life’s myriad challenges.

The story, based on real incidents, raises the question that looms large, as we reflect on the narrative of #ClassroomOrCoaching: How can schools reclaim their role as sanctuaries of holistic education, ensuring they remain relevant and valuable in the lives of students like Vikram, not just as conduits to board results but as launchpads for their futures?

In a world where the race to the top often overlooks the essence of learning, can we afford to let coaching centres replace the rich, multifaceted experience of school education?

To read more on such trends that need to be called out and #un-trended, head to the April issue of our magazine here

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Education

Questioning the Trend of Lavish Farewells- #FarewellFiasco

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Imagine your child is attending their Year 12 farewell. It is a night they have been looking forward to, marking the end of their school journey and the start of something new. The atmosphere is charged with excitement, laughter, and the bittersweet feeling of saying goodbye. As the evening wraps up, the buzz does not fade; it shifts to the streets. A group of friends, adrenaline still running high from the night’s celebrations, decide to extend the farewell with a car rally. Among them is Aarav, driving his family’s SUV, a vehicle too powerful for his inexperienced hands.

The city sleeps as the convoy of cars snakes its way through the deserted streets, the hum of engines breaking the night’s silence. Aarav, feeling the thrill of the chase, pushes the pedal down, the speedometer needle climbing higher and higher. His friends, in the car beside him, cheer him on, the competition heating up as they approach the ring road. It is a wide stretch, seemingly perfect for their race, away from the prying eyes of the night.

But in a heartbeat, the night turns tragic. Aarav loses control. The SUV, now a projectile, careers off the road, skidding and tumbling for what seems like an eternity. The aftermath is a scene of devastation. The vehicle, unrecognisable, lies in ruins, and silence once again claims the night, now heavy with the weight of consequences.

By the time the first light of dawn touches the sky, the police are at the scene, piecing together the events. The accident leaves one young soul lost to the night and another battling for life in hospital. Questions swirl around the circumstances that led to this moment. Was it the rush of speed, a momentary lapse in judgement, or something more? The community is left reeling, grappling with the reality of a celebration turned catastrophe.

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As the investigation unfolds, the police sift through CCTV footage, trying to trace the sequence of events and the other vehicles involved. Speculations arise that the tragedy was the result of a high-speed race gone wrong. Amidst this, a family mourns the loss of their child, a farewell that was meant to be a celebration now a memory marred by loss and regret.

This story, though actual, has been anonymized to protect the identity and privacy of the student involved. It highlights a critical issue prevalent in communities worldwide: the trend of extravagant farewells escalating into dangerous activities, posing threats not only to the students but also to society as a whole.

As we reflect on this story, it compels us to ask: Is the pursuit of a grand goodbye worth the price of a life? How do we balance the celebration of milestones with the responsibility we owe to our children’s safety and to each other? This tale, inspired by true events, leaves us pondering the traditions we uphold and the lessons we impart to the young minds we are nurturing for the future.

To read more on such trends that need to be called out and #un-trended, head to the April issue of our magazine here

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Reviving School Education: Countering the Coaching Centre Dominance

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In recent years, a troubling trend has emerged within the educational landscape: the rise of “Dummy Admissions,” where students formally enrolled in schools are effectively abandoning the classroom in favour of coaching institutes. This phenomenon, particularly prevalent from the 11th standard onwards, sees students dropping out of school to prepare for competitive exams under the tutelage of coaching centres, which were originally intended to supplement, not supplant, school education.

The shift has been stark. Coaching, once a support system, has transformed into a parallel education industry, with some arguing it overshadows the broader developmental benefits of traditional schooling. This evolution poses a critical question: How can schools reclaim their role not just as preparatory grounds for board exams but as sanctuaries of holistic education that truly prepare students for life?

The Diminishing Role of Schools

The primary role of any educational institution is to foster an environment conducive to learning, curiosity, and personal growth. Schools are meant to be arenas where young minds receive a balanced education — academically, socially, and emotionally. However, the allure of scoring top marks in competitive exams has tilted the focus sharply towards rote learning and intensive exam preparation, often at the expense of holistic development.

The Coaching Conundrum

Coaching centres operate with a laser focus on results, primarily targeting competitive exams like the JEE, NEET, and others. This narrow approach prioritises immediate academic results over long-term learning and personal development. Students, driven by the pressure to excel in these high-stakes environments, often find themselves estranged from the broader educational experiences that school offers — experiences that are crucial in shaping well-rounded individuals capable of adapting to life’s varied challenges.

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Reclaiming the Sanctuary of Education

For schools to regain their central place in the educational journey of students, they must evolve to meet the diverse needs of their students. Here are a few strategies that could help schools reassert their relevance:

  1. Integrated Curriculum: Schools could integrate aspects of competitive exam preparation into their regular curriculum, thus reducing the need for external coaching. This would allow students to prepare for exams without missing out on the broader educational offerings of the school.
  2. Focus on Skill Development: Beyond academic prowess, schools should enhance their focus on developing critical life skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and communication. These skills are crucial for success in professional and personal life and can make schooling more relevant.
  3. Counselling and Support Services: Enhanced counselling services can help students navigate their educational pathways and career choices effectively. Schools should equip students with the tools to make informed decisions about their futures.
  4. Experiential Learning: Schools must emphasise experiential and contextual learning, making education a more engaging, practical, and enjoyable experience. This can be achieved through project-based learning, internships, and real-world problem-solving scenarios.
  5. Parental Engagement: Engaging parents in the educational process and informing them about the importance of a balanced education can help shift the focus from mere exam preparation to overall development.
  6. Promotion of Arts and Sports: Encouraging participation in arts, sports, and other co-curricular activities can enrich students’ educational experience and support the development of a wide range of skills.

As the educational landscape continues to evolve, the challenge for schools is not just to prepare students for exams but to prepare them for life. In a world increasingly dominated by coaching centres, schools must innovate and broaden their educational offerings to ensure they remain valued not just as conduits to board results but as launchpads for the futures of students. It’s about striking a balance between academic rigor and holistic development, ensuring that schools remain the nurturing grounds for the leaders of tomorrow.

To read more on such trends that need to be called out and #un-trended, head to the April issue of our magazine here

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