Schools of different hues

Shalini B

One evening when I came home from office, my six year old asked me, “Ma, can I colour a mango orange?” I told him that he could colour a mango any colour he wanted, even pink or black! He said, “But my aunty (teacher) told me that a mango has to be only yellow.” And that was what did it. I had to begin looking for a new school for Adwait.

I am one of those mothers who believes that education is not simply going to school to see a blackboard and a teacher with a chalk in hand. I went to a school like that – regular and conventional, where teachers swore by the chalk and talk method and believed that going beyond the textbook was a waste of time and a distraction for the students. I am not saying that going to school was a chore for me. I liked my school. It was a place to get together with friends and my teachers were all good to me. But looking back, I realize that I didn’t learn much at school. I passed my exams learning the subjects by rote. Since it was difficult to learn everything in math by heart, I remember that I just about passed in that subject every time. I think through the school years, my brain cells went into a deep slumber. I want Adwait to grow up knowing that learning is fun, that learning means questioning, curiosity, challenges, creativity, and discovery.

Unlike my parents, I have a wider choice of schools to choose from, some even practicing what I believe education is meant to be. Given this, I didn’t think it would be difficult for me to find the school for my son. The first school I went to was an “international school”. With not more than 25 kids in a class and being located a mere 6 kms from home, I believed this was surely the one for Adwait. But it was international only in name and left a lot to be desired. Ok, I told myself, so maybe distance shouldn’t be a criterion. The next school I chose was one far, far away from home. This was what I’d call my kind of school. Set amidst serene surroundings, with teachers who seemed very caring and understanding, and where the child had freedom, this school, I decided, would be Adwait’s second home. However this time, for reasons I am still not very clear about, the school said it was very sorry but it couldn’t take my son in. So after two days of nursing a broken heart (I was so set on this school that I was terribly disappointed) I set out again.

The next school on the list was the conventional CBSE school. It was a school close enough to the house, with fees that were well within my budget, that promised my child individual attention having a class strength of only 30. But something inside me wasn’t completely satisfied. In this school, Adwait would certainly learn but not in the way that I want him to. I then chose to go see an ICSE school. Again, this school had everything going for it and the staff was so thorough, they spent half an hour interviewing my husband and me! Finally, however, they said no. I can’t figure out what is happening. The schools that I had rejected are hounding me to find out if my son will be their next student and the schools that I liked seem to be disinterested.

So now, four weeks later, I find that I have reached the end of my initial list of schools, having just seen the last one. This is a school that walks the middle path and despite its humongous size (I like small) seems alright. I like its philosophy. Yes, it doesn’t fit my picture of an “ideal” school but that seems like a small compromise and one that I think I am willing to make after my experiences with the other schools. My husband and I have been asked to come to the school with Adwait next week. I am crossing my fingers for this one! My options are running out (because I am very rigid about a lot of things – place, distance, atmosphere, methodology, philosophy) and I am also very tired and am not looking forward to getting back on the internet to look up schools, trace the routes on google maps and make more school visits. All the same, if any of you know of good schools (in Hyderabad) that will provide wholesome education do get in touch with me.

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