The Diplomat's Daughter Returns
I've been reading a lot of blogs lately and remembered my own, aging, neglected one today.
To be honest, I have thought about reviving this blog often but either couldn't (a) sign in (b) find anything to write about or (c) find the time. Life has gotten busier since JNU and the boss (at the school where I now work) has been on major office patrol lately. But this Saturday morning, the weekend beckons and I feel inspired again. So here I am - a little rusty but eager to sharpen my tools and get going!
The blogs that prompted me to write today are all about education. I've always been interested in education and, now that it pays the rent, I like to keep up with issues and concerns relating to school education...well, as much as I can. I was amazed not just by how many teachers are writing blogs, but by the way blogging is incorporated into the classroom and learning experience. I also read some blogs by students - the quality of writing and thinking was astonishingly high.
I say all this with a twinge of sadness, knowing that such practices are still decades away in India. Its not that we aren't using e-learning technology in our classes. Its not even that there isn't enough funding - private schools in India, especially those owned by wealthy industrialists, have plenty of money to put to good use. No, the massive stumbling block in most Indian public schools is the conservative and often condescending mindset towards young people. While schools may profess to be 'liberal' and use fancy terms like "pupil ownership", the truth is that a vital ingredient in the teacher-taught relationship is missing - faith. Rarely are students allowed to criticize policy, make meaningful contributions to school events, or even read for pleasure. Every part of their day is structured, every minute accounted for. In such an environment, where is the impetus for retrospection, creative thought or action? What are they really learning and what are we teaching them?
In the effort to adopt the 'no child left behind' ideal, some students have become complacent, knowing that their substandard performance will be blamed on their teachers and mentors. To avoid the inevitable tongue-lashing that follows, teachers turn to spoon-feeding in order to maintain high class averages and, most importantly, their bonuses. The ultimate reward? A place in the top 20 annual ranking of schools in India.