Friday, 3 December 2010

The Big Inning

We've finally begun the school hunt for Adiv. Though we are happy with the school he goes to, they only have classes till UKG. If we waited to shift him after that, we were warned we'd have trouble finding a good school that would take him in then. So it made sense to shift him while he was in nursery or LKG.
Ro and I got busy, and made a list of schools we were interested in. The first few schools we checked out, proved to be way too expensive. Then there were some that only wanted rank holders, and we definitely didn't want a school that was only interested in academics. Neither did we want a school that took in only rich kids (we'd be going to Kerala while his classmates went to Italy during the holidays). We wanted a fun place that would understand that every child was unique and talented, and make learning fun for them. We were wary of schools that had large classes, because we didn't want Adiv to disappear in a crowd. We also didn't want a school that expected every child to conform to a specific standard. We wanted a place that would encourage him to think for himself, and not tell him how to think. After much internal debate, we finally decided to visit a school that was recommended very highly.

After making an appointment, we got to the school on time. The admissions officer, a short haired lady with a made-up face rushed us into her office saying, "I've only got 10 minutes." She offered us seats, ruffled through some papers on her table, and began talking. She was so busy, she barely looked at us or Adiv, who was waving his hands in the air to get her attention. Of the ten minutes she spent with us, she used the first 5 minutes to throw us a lot of jargon. Confused, I turned to Ro, who seemed to be paying a lot of attention. After this memorized speech, she went on to tell us about the school.
After a dramatic pause, she said, "We prepare the child for 1st standard."
"Hmm", I said, not quite sure as to what that meant.
"So, we begin with Maths, English, and Environmental Studies in Nursery", she added.
Now I was amused. Nonetheless, I decided to listen in on what else she'd have to say.
She went on about the languages he'd have to learn by the time he got to 1st standard, and the report cards that would come to us. Then, she suddenly shifted gears to talk about their extra curricular activities.
"We're not only about studies", she said with a triumphant smile. "To the regular time table, different activities are plugged in, on a weekly basis. We have swimming, Taekwondo, tennis, dramatics, art.." Contrary to being impressed, we found all of this ridiculous. Though we were in favor of extra curricular activities, we weren't in favor of forcing our child into activities that he wasn't interested in. So if Adiv didn't want to swim, I didn't see why he had to. I would have been happier if she'd spoken about finding out where a child's interests lay, before steering him towards these activities.
She also stressed on the importance of reading. Being an avid reader, I couldn't agree more. I didn't however agree with their need to force the habit of reading.
"Once a week the kids will spend an entire day in the library", she said.
Though I wanted Adiv to read, and i'd tried to inculcate these habit by reading to him, I didn't quite picture him sitting quietly in a library for an entire day.
Finally, she began talking about their air conditioned buses and their breakfasts and lunches. "Since he will be in nursery, you only need to pay for his breakfast", she added. "Lunch will begin only from class 1.
Then it was time for the fee structure. She hurridly brought out a sheet of paper, to show us the figures. "If you give us 50K now, we'll block a seat now", she said before rushing out the door.
"If you want a tour, i'll get someone to show you the place."
Then she vanished. As we stood around waiting, a bored office boy guided us to the nursery section. We peeked into all three classes and by then the office boy had vanished as well.
"So I guess we don't get to see the celebrated pools and tennis courts", I told Ro.
We laughed and walked out. We knew instantly that a place that was indifferent to our child wasn't the place for him.
From this school, we drove to another that had asked us to come in before 4 o'clock. Despite being asked to come, we weren't allowed past the main gate. "Apply, and if we call you, you can come check out the place", said someone on the phone, at the security desk. Slightly annoyed, we left. During the drive back, we decided we'd let Adiv continue in his current school. While he finished nursery, we'd hopefully find the right school for him. We just needed to do more research. We weren't floored by the sprawling grounds, the pools, the horse riding, and the fancy lunches. We only wanted a school with good teachers who'd make learning fun. A good teacher was all one needed, because she'd encourage thinking, understand differences, and celebrate individual talents. So now we're searching for a school that focuses on the child, and not on the facilities, the 5-star meals, and the nike shoes.