School: An Institute or A Building

Academic year 2020-21 is over. For almost a year the classrooms, benches, desks, corridors, play ground assembly hall missed the mischievous activities, lively conversations, discussions, complaints and debates. The space which has played an important role in development of young minds and has been known as an Institution is facing an identity crisis. Only few familiar faces frequent the space assuring that it is not a mere building but still an institution.

Majority of students of this school come from remote villages. They do not have any idea of etiquettes of an institution. Most of the girl students belong to the communities for whom girl’s education is a luxury. They do not have freedom to speak their mind.

The building changes in an institution when it witnesses; broad smile on faces of these children, change in rhythm of foot taps filling its corridor; arguments changing into debates, curiosity leading into experimentation and exploration; the tender voices turning into confident words, efforts for carving spaces for themselves.

This year was different, the fear of getting dissociated was over-powering the thoughts. A new medium has been adopted. But this medium has many limitations. The approach and methods needs to be revamped.  For junior classes flexible methods, changed approach are workable but what about class X students who has to write board paper? School is the only place where they get all materials and guidance.

The intense efforts and zeal of grade X students to maintain their pace with so called more efficient and smart world gave strength. We also got the feel of their growing ability to pick instructions and information despite of remote connection with their teachers and guide. Their growing concern towards society, friends, family and above all their learning has instigated the institution to explore more ways to develop resources to keep them updated connected and expressive. Most of them were found ready with their task what so ever it is. And these acts were a message to us that despite of all odds they will come out as winners.

Now, the time has come when the institutions have been told to develop report cards for these students. But how it can be done? How these efforts and changes can be translated in forms of marks? Is it a good idea to set past performance of an institution as benchmark?

The past result reflects the efforts and understanding of children who may be or are quite different from the students who will be judged now. Not only that these students have faced a challenging situation which have developed them with a bit different attitude and capabilities. And these abilities had refined the understanding of not only the situations but of the subjects and topics they are dealing with as course material. They learnt to see things through their own lens. In total we can say many of them emerged as Independent Learner, a primary goal which any educational Institute should set.

At this point when we need to give report card to the efforts, Zeal and enthusiasm of this batch of children we are in fix. The criteria and limitation decided and fixed by authorities or big brains are not allowing us to admire their effort, progress and abilities with ample of words and our gesture.

This exercise and advises and guidelines provided by big brains asking us to interrogate our understanding and approach of education system .\

Do I cheat my children by saying "if your learning will be judged the basis will be your performance, the degree of progress shown by you: you will set and break benchmarks of your performance as you are an independent entity."

This question is haunting me. I am trying to recall the philosophy of Indian philosophers Rabindra Nath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi and the document NCF 2005, but the answer eludes me. How and why learning of a person will be judged on the basis of past performance of an Institution (means performance of students in past) and specialy in a time when the child was compelled to develop itself as an Independent Learner an ability far more important but tough to develop.

Why our system is still showing its faith on marks in a situation where nothing can be counted and judged. Why the past performance of an institution based upon few sets of questions got preference over the words and feeling of an institution for its children. Why still we belief in uniform criteria for assessment.. Why we label our children as good or poor performer? Why we prepare them as performer not as learner?

Till when we will ignore the efforts put by an institution which takes care of capabilities of its disciple? Why we are not able to appreciate differences ? And above all why we have lost faith in an institution which are meant to bring changes, show progress? Are these institutions merely building? 


More by :  Dr. Anupama Jha

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