“I think you are spoiling your child’s career? Why do you send your child to that school? Don’t you think he will be wasting his time in useless outdated activities like gardening, cooking, and cleaning?”
These comments from close relatives were being shared by Mrs. Dagwar with me. She felt pressurized and guilty when members in the family strongly reacted to her decision to admit her second child in Anand Niketan, a school run on nai talim ideas of education. Mrs. Dagwar was working with a voluntary agency which questioned the conventional consumerist development model and trained women to become small producer groups. Still, the pressure was so much that Krishna, the child, was removed from the school and sent to an English medium school, where his older brother, Ved was already studying. But the mother soon realized that she had made a mistake as the school did not give any individual attention to Krishna and there was no innovativeness in teaching. She re-admitted him to our school expressing her regret. Almost two years later, one fine morning, Ved, studying in class 8, came on his own to meet me and said that he wanted to quit his school and join Krishna’s school. Now both the brothers and the parents are enjoying ‘the outdated education system’ of nai talim. From the school’s point of view, a year later, the children are enjoying themselves and have overcome a large deficit in age-specific normal learning levels.
For most parents, the term “education” has been reduced to schooling for employability; employability with fat salaries. Even the economically weaker sections have become more aware and do not want their children to suffer in non-performing schools. Irrespective of the availability of free education in government schools, they prefer private schooling at the cost of curtailing their primary requirements like good food. Quality education is required for “quality living”. High monetary gain, higher positions, high consumption levels, bank balance, more leisure and leisure trips, less amount of physical work are the main indicators of “quality” today. A family may not buy a newspaper or books but would prefer to buy electronic goods, such as a television or even a computer. Television is not watched for education, its main purpose is to create wants through unending advertisements and establish a consumerist culture through entertainment.
One essential point that needs to be understood is that technology is not neutral. It may have reduced the drudgery but it has also driven people to becoming mere consumers. Even the food culture is becoming uniform and market-oriented, and not necessarily inclined towards healthy food. A realization that there is ‘interdependence and intricate balance’ in Nature develops humility in and motivates a person to become scientific in the real sense and introspective of one’s needs and desires.
The author is Principal, Anand Niketan, Sewagram, Maharashtra. She has been working in the field of education for the last 25 years. Anand Niketan is a school for children from 3 to 14 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.