Naina could hear herself screaming like a mad woman…. today was the BIG day and Roshini was being her impudent self…...For a 3.5-year-old, she was quite a handful. They had to reach the school XYZ by 9:30 am for the lottery and the arms of the clock were rushing toward 9:00 am. She had her fingers crossed already…...Naina just had to qualify through the school……her closest friends’ children went there…
AND THE CROWN GOES TO….
‘The girls that qualify to nursery A are…. Roshini…’. Yes! Naina’s prayers were answered. Her baby was now a formal XYZ student, the best school in Gurugram. So, they got back home with a sense of accomplishment….it was like a battle won, a mission accomplished.
Later that night, when the day’s chores were done and Naina had some ‘me’ time, she began to introspect. The ‘what if’ question was looming large in her mind…was XYZ the best choice or really the ideal school for Roshini?...
THE ONSET OF SCHOOLIGHTENMENT (read enlightenment with regard to schools)
Thus, began Naina’s research. She just had to find the definition of ‘the best school’. So, the phone calls began to friends, family, neighbors; google was quite an eye opener, too. The facts were obvious and staring her into the face.
- The best schools tend to focus on students' achievements. The better the marks scored, the better the school.
- Moreover, a school qualifies at the top in accordance to some ranking that has been devised by an accredited agency. They say it, we believe it.
- Last but not the least, the ‘sought-after’ quotient of a school is in direct proportion to the difficulty in getting an admission to it. The traditional belief is sustained that the more arduous it is to achieve something, the better it is.
Naina found the facts boringly obvious. There had to be something more to this. The ‘parent’ in her felt the urge to keep digging deeper. The above definition of ‘best’ was certainly not enough to satisfy her. That was when Naina chanced upon a blog written by Dr Gary R Gruber about finding the right school for your child.
Naina realised, that parents, too, could make wrong schooling choices for their kids; More often than not, because they want to be perfect for their kids in every -which-way. The perfectionist that she was, she made a note of every little bit of information that she discovered.
- The so called ‘best’ schools might just be selectively enrolling high achievers to attain the ‘top results’ school tag. In direct contrast, another school, a notch lower on the ‘ranking’ ladder, might actually be super confident about its methodology and the expertise of its teaching faculty. Consequently, it would be less selective when enrolling average/low achievers. But does it make it a ‘poor’ choice? Hmm…
- Schools are excellent with their PR strategies; they are like ‘spin doctors’, they market their USPs and shield their areas of improvement. Parents do not realise this lack of transparency. They believe in what they see, without probing any further.
- In a typical ‘best’ school, showcase students (read high achievers) may be the life-line. They get all the attention and are literally placed on the pedestal. But what about the other kids? The good or average section of students are left wanting. So, they need to be in a state of constant competition, with regard to selection in co-curriculars, sports or any other formal platform. It is a consistent ‘survival of the fittest’ situation.
- Parents are also driven by pseudo ‘brand’ consciousness, while classifying schools as good/bad/ugly. Education has become a social-symbol of sorts, which qualifies an individual’s socio-economic status.
All this research, though mentally exhausting, was quite an eye-opener for Naina. She quickly jotted down the key factors that would qualify a school as the best for her.
SCHOOL RANKED AS THE ‘BEST’ ON THE ‘NAINA-SCALE’
- The school should be able to help kids with differing traits advance academically, regardless of where they start out in their early years. The turn-around time taken by a school to establish parity amongst the students, with regard to the basic/useful/requisite skills is important.
- It needs to have an unbiased approach toward all its students; there should be no discrimination based on high-average-low-achievers.
- It should be a happy and safe place for any child.
At the end of this mind-boggling study, Naina felt like Aamir Khan from the Hindi movie, ‘3 idiots’. She was determined to remind all her friends “And this is a college (school), not a pressure cooker! The lion in a circus learns that he needs to sit on the chair if his owner has a whip in his hand. But that lion is called well-trained, not well-educated.".
The next day, Naina and Roshini went on a tour of the ABC school, which incidentally Roshini had super liked but Naina was not in favour of. It was among the good schools of Gurugram, but is now the BEST for Naina.
‘Que Sera Sera…whatever will be, will be’, all the Nainas in the room…a show of hands please!