Dear Readers, you may notice the dates of the Blog do not match the Flash Post dates which are in real time. The blog was written in 2009 and saw the light of day 6 months back when my younger daughter discovered it and decided to bring it to you here.
School As I Knew It | Flash Post 403

School As I Knew It | Flash Post 403

Button, the picture above is familiar and took me back to my school days and, I would imagine, familiar to all school-going children till about five months back before COVID-19 struck.

Are you saying the pandemic has injured that permanently?

Schools are not meant to teach the written word alone. They are meant to mould each child into well-rounded individuals before they go out into the big bad world.


I mean, besides learning the three “R”s which refer to 3 basic skills taught in school, there is so much more a child picks up.

What are the three “R”s you are referring to?

It stands for reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic.

So what you’re saying is that going to school teaches a child skills that she wouldn’t have otherwise learnt?

A child learns certain skills, values and lessons at home—without any shadow of doubt—but the exposure  she gets when she goes to school is enormous. Speaking of myself, going to a reputed girls school in Kolkata did wonders for me which I’d like to take you through.

Would love to hear.

Woken up pretty early, getting dressed on my own and taking off—either walking if the distance was short or catching a tram—yes, a tram and tramcars still crisscross the streets of Kolkata—I’d reach school to be in time for the school assembly. Afterwards, we’d file in to our respective classrooms and await the teacher’s arrival. Once classes got over, there would be a short recess that used to be great fun when we shared our tiffins, played games, cracked jokes, gossiped and even ran outside school sometimes, hire a bicycle and go for a spin. But we sneaked back for the next class just in time. Every school has some students who snitch about those who they don’t like. I was one who didn’t get enticed easily but you let go of yourself once in a while This time, my friends dared me to buy some ice lollies from the vendor outside the school without getting caught. When we actually got caught, they feigned ignorance but the sheepish look on my face gave me away. I was let off as my class teacher, who had implicit faith in me believed that I could never have done such a thing. That particular incident taught me not to betray anybody’s trust.  I enjoyed being part of school events like sports, plays we put up on Parents Day, singing in the school choir, working on different projects with other students and loved playing a game of kabadi or basketball. I still remember those times when I’d take a bad fall and scrape my knees, go home with mom fussing over it, cleaning it up and get me to promise I’d not play till the wound healed. But I’d still play, fall and scrape my knees even more badly and return home pretending nothing had happened but mothers have a way of knowing and she would proceed to dress the wound again. However, what was thrilling was if we won. And we won several times.

From everything that you have just said, I understand that school teaches you valuable lessons like discipline, perseverance, observation skills, friendship, healthy competition, team spirit, sharing and caring, community building, the value of time, the importance of being courteous, social skills,  to think and think differently,  empathy, resourcefulness and organisation.

Home is the place where a child takes her first step. Home is a place where she receives ample love, is spoilt rotten, and is comforted when she messes up, where her every whim and fancy is met. Home is the place where you learn important values like honesty, determination, consideration and kindness. Home is the foundation stone for every child while schools, colleges and universities form the next level that prepares her to go out there and live her  life.

So, what now!

I know Zoom has found its way into most schools and homes and children have no option but tonstudy online. Parents are terrified of letting their children out of their sight for fear they may get infected. I watch kids play ball all by themselves in the building compound with their mothers keeping watch. The fear that has got embedded in every mind with this pandemic will be difficult to shed, if at all. My heart also goes out to those in the villages whose futures were just beginning to blossom with parents slogging away day and night, sometimes doing several jobs in order to educate their children because they feel they could have done better in life had they been educated.

Did you know that the pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education in history? Over a billion students have been affected. In Mumbai’s BMC schools, 1 out of 3 students are not being able to attend online classes. A projection covering 180 nations by Unesco shows 23.5 million children and youth from the pre-primary stage to university level at the risk of dropping out or not having access to school next year due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

But there’s a good side too. The pandemic has made us self-sufficient, it has brought families closer, it has given people a chance to rediscover themselves, take stock of everything they’ve done so far and make up their minds if they want to follow the same route or find another one. It has made us notice things we’d never noticed before like the man seeking help at the corner of the street and offering him something that’ll help him along, it has made us more caring, it has shown us that we needn’t be lavish where it’s not required. It’s taught us to accept the fact that life may not be the same again and that it’s okay. It has also taught us that washing hands is a good habit. It has taught us that we cannot continue to exploit nature, worsen the climate crisis, erratic weather phenomena, pollution of air, land and ocean that has pushed the world to a dangerous brink. Unless this is reversed soon, we are in for trouble. We have also been witness to nature regenerating itself. We saw blue skies and several species of animals, birds and insects stage a comeback. It’s time we turned the clock back.

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