have two children, both enrolled at an ICSE school in Chembur, a
suburb of Bombay. My daughter is in the 10th and my son in the
My children are miserable. They view school as some
sort of prison sentence they have to get through. Teachers who may or
may not make sense and make no effort to make material interesting.
Huge loads of books that have to be humped up and down five floors.
Piles of homework and two weekly tests that you had better do well
at. Or else.
Neither my wife nor I have pushed them to
top the class. We believe there is a lot more to life than marks
given for rote learning. My children read voraciously, watch films
that their peer group would not understand and are able to conduct
themselves with intelligence and humour.
considered home schooling for a while now. There are a great deal of
arguments in favour – the children can learn at their own pace,
learn what they need to and set their own goals. And then there are
the thoughts that have stopped us thus far…
children are in their final years of school. Is this a good time to
2. Home schooling requires immense commitments of time
and effort from at least one if not both parents. I make television
commercials and my wife handles the production design of my films
while working with her own clients as a graphic designer. Our hours
are very irregular. For instance, I have spent the last week at the
office, working all day and editing nights.
3. Like it
or not, there is a stigma attached to the National Open School
system. As far as my children's teachers and peer group are
concerned, the NIOS is meant for dull laggards who cannot cope with
the normal school system.
My children are not dull. When
interested in the subject they can effortlessly top the class – and
do so very often in English. When uninterested, as they are most of
the time, their marks are in single digits. Consequently, the
teachers believe they are malingering and berate them and threaten my
son in particular with expulsion.
We have had enough.
After considerable soul-searching, my wife and I have decided to
remove them from their school immediately.
I do not know
where we are to go from here. Home-schooling? Another school?
too have taken our son out of school only last week and have begun
home schooling him. His happiness says it all.
sealed it for us, while we were thinking about it for a while now for
very good reasons, was that last month after eating school food, he
came home and started vomiting and did not stop for more than 24
hours. They served them Methi Mattar Malai on that particular day...
appropriate food for children, especially in this weather? We don't
think so, but that's only our opinion.
injections did not work, he had to be hospitalised and was in the
pediatric ICU for a few days where IV medication, electrolytes etc
were given and it still took a few days for it to work. When we
informed the school director through an sms while he was in hospital
all she replied with was -- "I hope he gets well soon."
That's it. No call till date to find out how he is.. His class
teacher was not informed either and she finally called to find out
where he was since he was absent for more than a week .
after we gave a letter saying we are withdrawing his admission, the
class teacher was not informed and the principal/counsellor/director
of this school with a "holistic approach" have still not
called to ask if he's okay -- just one human being to
He's only in the 3rd grade so he's still got
a few years to go to undo all the damage like where he was made to
pull his ears exactly as directed by the music teacher ("pull it
harder so you can hear how badly you sing!") , in music class,
because he was not "singing correctly" and him crying made
no impact on the "teacher" or being told to "get out"
of art class because he kept some material in a wrong place by
mistake, said sorry many times, but apparently it was an unpardonable
mistake... this is an eight-year-old we're talking about. A lot of
this info came out while he was lying in bed in the ICU... and
there's a lot more....
These are details yes, but we are
sharing it because we feel it's important in light of the latest
order by the NCPCR that teachers better be ready to have an FIR
registered against them for corporal punishment or even calling a
child stupid, mindless etc..(TOI - Aug 10). This can be seen online
in the e-paper if you have not seen it already... Does this kind of
humiliation also come under the purview of this order... because it
is just as damaging as other sad, pathetic, inhuman, criminal acts
carried out in the name of "discipline"... how effective
will the order be? But more importantly what are the state education
departments doing as these incidents (a child dying or being chained)
should not be taking place at all. These are children we're talking
about! Where are the checks? How do private schools that don't have
even the basic infrastructure thrive? how do people who don't have
the requisite qualifications/mind-set become teachers in these
schools? And we're not talking about children being subjected to this
torture in local municipal schools alone, the higher the fees the
more subtle the humiliation, children are not spared. How does this
prepare them for adult life? How can people who hate children this
much become teachers? We are not generalising at all, naturally we're
speaking about our experiences, wishing they were different. Yes
there are plenty of teachers who genuinely care and are very good but
they are outnumbered by the ones who don't. We're glad that at least
this order is in place... Children's rights finally being considered
human rights is good but why was it any other way in the first place?
Do teachers need laws in place to stop them from being cruel to
children? We are not disconnected from reality or being naive, it's
just a basic, simple thought... "
daughter is still in the school system. But having started full day
school- 9 am-3.30pm, we can see the toll its taking on her, us. We
miss her terribly all day and when she comes home, all we seem to be
doing is scolding her to finish her homework, to eat fast, to rush to
music class etc. She is still so tiny."
not even sure my girls(soon to be 13 and 15)even qualify as children
but i want to ask
anyone who has ideas on what i could do to
decondition them this far down the line? Their
heads are stuffed
with knowledge to pass examinations and they have nice
because they were brought up in a home where
love,truth,peace,etc are real words that still mean something and are
used to help us make decisions. But they are no nearer knowing what
their innate abilities are or how to make choices that will make them
happy (not to be equated with successful). I don't care if they even
take exams or go to college - i just want them to make good life
choices but how can they when i put them on a certain path 10 years
ago and that is the only way they know. Sounds like an uphill task i
know but i'm certain there is a way to do this - i just have to find
just sent my son off to school. He wasn't in a great frame of
He asked, for the nth time, why he can't stay at home and
learn whatever he has to. Why school. He's gone with bent head,
But today, I made him a promise. That he, and I,
will be out of this senseless existence in six months time.
did a mental checklist. There are some points that are always brought
up -- in my mind and by people -- when I think of pulling him out of
1. School is necessary.
What did I learn
after 12 years of going to school and then college?
I am pretty much clueless about physics and mathematical theories.
About a lot of history. And geography. And economics. I have learnt
more by reading books than from my school.
I think it would be
nice if I could find people who were really good teachers and could
spend time with him sometimes to . I remember I had a cousin who
could make physics and maths seem like magical topics. I used to
often wish all my teachers were like that. Maybe from my own circle I
can get some people like that for Abhimanyu.
2. Does he need a
I don't know. He may. Like all those other endorements he
needs to get around in this world, all those other certificates
vaccination, passport, voter's ID, driving licenece. He MIGHT
also need a degree. I am exploring that. (I haven't given him
vaccinations. There's a woman here I know. She works in the
health sector and is a well-known nutritionist in Bombay. I met her
while I was staying in Goa. My boy was just born. She had her one and
a half year old grandson with her. He wasn't vaccinated. Neither was
his mother. Or her sister. This woman must be 70 at least. She took
the decision to not vaccinate her kids at that time -- must have been
in the 40s. After reading up a lot and meeting like-minded poeople ad
going on what her instincts told her.)
So about that degree, I am
still undecided. He can of course give an open univ exam and get his
degree that way. Let's see.
3. There's that common, and I
feel, rather asinine, point that people bring up when all other
points have been answered. "But what about his 'peer group'?"
"He needs to mix with people of his own age."
it sound like all the children are inside schools, none can be found
outside. My son has more friends outside the school, in the aptt
complex that we stay in, than inside it.
4. He'll feel out of
sync with the rest.
That one's kind of worrying. He is already the
son of a single mom :-) I'll be adding on to that. I have told him
why I decided to not marry. And why I feel it's as normal to me to
have a child outside marriage as it is for two people to 'tie the
knot.' But I can see that he has some difficulty explaining to his
'peer group' this
concept. And he can get a bit flustered.
What will he do when he grows up? What will he 'become'?
and happy human being. I hope.
I do feel scared, very
apprehensive about the step. But how much more screwed-up can life
get than it is now?"
almost nine-year-old son too goes to a 'school with a holistic
approach' which basically means we pay more than 10 times the
amount we'd pay in a 'mainstream' school . All that's 'holistic' is
their intention to make as much money in as little time as possible.
The teachers are mostly mothers with at least two children in the
same school and hence are doing their jobs not because they love
children or teaching but because this way they can get free
/subsidised education for their children.
Most of them,
including the Principal, are clueless and offence is their best
defence. I was once told that my son does not know how to take no for
an answer (because he asked too many questions!) and that he will
grow up to throw acid on some girl's face because as a child he did
not learn how to take no as an answer!!!!!!!! Needless to say, I let
the lady know exactly what I thought of her analysis and then told
her that the next time she had an opinion to put it in writing, on
the school letterhead, with a stamp and a signature and that I would
take that further in the way I deemed fit... that shut her up
and she treads very carefully now but if I show you my son's
'holistic report card' -- you will be shocked that grown women can be
so vindictive... we did not show it to our son and never will and
yes, I took it up with the woman again... which is so sad and
My son has been miserable to put it mildly.
When he gets hit in school by older children who bully everyone
around, and I take it up, I am told that it's all a part of growing
up and that he will learn how to deal with aggressive people in life!
Hullo!!!! If another adult hits you, you have him arrested because
that's classified as assault in the adult world! There's a law
against hitting all and sundry in the 'grown up world'. So what's the
alternative? Teach our son to hit back? Because he can -- he's a big
boy and can cause quite a lot of damage if he wants to.. We are
really so proud of him for the restraint he has shown in these
circumstances. From a fractured ankle to being bitten on his arm by a
classmate (and getting a tetanus shot for it!) to being punched hard
in the tummy, he has endured it all -- all in just three years
of school. He never went to 'playgroup' or nursery, but straight to
Jr Kg before this, and his kindergarten principal told us that our
four -year-old son was dyslexic and a challenge! I often wonder why
we bothered with a school after our experience with the
So that's what most
'alternative', 'holistic ' or whatchamacallit schools are all about
-- higher fees for fancy terms and psycho babble that few understand
or care to look beyond. And the people behind these schools are very
clever indeed... This is not to say that most parents are not happy
with this school.. most are, but we are not and don' t expect the
school to change for us but we realise that we have to change our
lives if we want to help our child live the life he deserves and give
him the best we can. It's not about saving money either.
that's our story and why we want to do it our way, we are weaning our
son away from what was 'normal' for him for so long, everyday is
spent weighing the pros and cons and talking to like-minded people
and yes, reading these mails have helped immensely. We spend time
talking to him too because it is not something we want to thrust upon
him. He has to be a part of the decision too.
None of it
is easy because I am a working mum too, but I have made changes in my
working life to be there for my son in the last four years. My career
is not important to me, by that I mean, climbing the ladder is not, I
love my work and have made adjustments to ensure that I can work on
my terms and it's fine by me that I stay exactly where I am and be
there for my son and not be 'swiping in and swiping out' and living
my life according to what someone else decrees only because they pay
me... My husband has also decided to work on his own now and spend
more time with his family than be at the beck and call of people who
think working till midnight is 'hip'. He is working out his notice
period right now. We knew we had to make changes in our life if we
wanted to be happy -- and I hope we get there.
people have said a lot of things -- that both my husband and I are
stupid not to have moved to Mumbai or Delhi as today we'd be at the
top, that we are both wasting our talent (my former boss repeats this
endlessly)... but we think we are where we want to be, in life and in
our careers and when people say our son asks too many questions that
they have no answers for and that he is a happy, intelligent child,
we know our 'talent' has been put to the best possible use.
I know is that if you follow your heart, you will do what's right for
both you and your child."
they follow this "kids will be kids"
policy and "let
them figure out their own equations" etc, he gets bullied and
shoved around quite a bit by the heftier boys. But they
much about it. It's been going on for too long now.
many other things. But the people who manage the school are
essentially good people.
But I am not satisfied, frankly. I
think the best thing is to get them out of any kind of school.
Because any kind of regimen will ultimately destroy spontaneity and
I think we as parents are being cruel sometimes --
we seem to build the foundation for bad health and a dull life right
from the start.
Our kids get upso early, food is shoved down so
early in the morning down their throats when they haven't even woken
up properly. It takes
the digestive system some time to get
kicking and to shove food down 20 minutes after waking up is
detrimental. Then the lunch hurriedly
gulped down because they
want to go down and play. Then there's the commute -- most of them
commute for a long time to get to school.
There's the heavily
polluted air they are breathing in every day. My son gets back around
4.30. Because he goes by the car pool. That's a
parents are happy with your child's school because most people do not
question anything. They live the status quo."