My daughter turns two and half next month. Time to start her Montessori. So started my second round of school hunting in the past one year.
First one was on the first floor of a house straight out of an interior design magazine. Split level floors, curios from all over the world, and the lady straight out of a fashion magazine. She gave me a disdainful look over. Thinking of how I look like even on my best days, I couldn't blame her. She was trained in the US of A, taught in montessories there, and had been working in one of Bangalore's upmarket schools for 4 years when the entrepreneurship bug caught her. She explained everything in her yankee accent and asked whether my daughter could follow English. We strictly speak our mother toungue at home, the logic is kids will anyway learn English at school. I said, "She can understand." Another one of those looks.
The classroom itself was again out of a book. All the accessories brand new, placed in order, and all imported, stressed the madam. There were 4-5 kids sitting around all beween 2.5 and 4 and they were writing in their notebooks!! I could not but compare this to the kindergarten class which my son went to in Kochi. The teacher did not force him to do anything in the first term because he used to get upset when she told him anything. That teacher took such good care of him during the first two months without even any of us knowing that after the first few months he just blossomed into someone very confident and thoughtful.
Next school I visited also gave me almost the same message. Teach kids as much as possible so that they are ready for their all important interview next year.
When we moved to Bangalore, the common comment from everyone was kids will get a good education. After almost a year I am not so sure anymore. There maybe the so called elite schools where this maybe true. But getting an admission there is tougher than a JEE or CAT and even more expensive. I know a school where they interviewed the kid for three hours for admission to second standard!! A colleague of mine who also got transferred along with is also of the same opinion. Kochi schools were so much better. The teachers knew their students so well and the parents were welcome to approach them anytime.
Our experience with our son is also not too different. In the first three months his class teacher changed three times, we do not know about the other subjects. First open house we went to half the teachers didn't even know him. I am sure there are many other schools which are run in a much better way, if someone can let me know how to get admission to one of those, I will be eternally grateful to you.
I may be biased in my thinking, it maybe a hangover from my upbringing, but from what I have seen and heard in the past few years, I still feel convent schools or those run by priests are the best. They may not have the best of facilities like horse riding or swimming or what not, but the values they instill, the quality of teaching that is a given just cannot be compared.
A parent told me that she is sending her son to a school known for the 'attitude' of the kids, but she is ok with it, since her son will turn out to be confident and sure about himself! Which set me thinking, isn't it us who has turned schooling into what it is today? In our quest for giving the best to our kids are we forgetting the basic things in life? Aren't we going for materialistic achievemnets in place of basic courtesies in life? Is knowing how to ride a horse or shooting a perfect ace on the tennis court more important that learning to treat others fairly without prejudice and getting to know that success and failure are just two sides of the same coin?