Schools, parents, and the business of education

Thank you, dear parents, for handing over to us your most precious possession. We truly appreciate the trust and faith you have reposed in us and feel privileged that you and I are partners in this venture of child rearing. But like all partnerships this one too comes with its own set of rules and regulations. The school, the teachers, the Principal, and ‘you’ have an equal role to play in the development of the child.

When the school as an institution was first set up, its primary aim was knowledge dissemination, as all other functions were performed by the family at home. Now, the primary function is custodial care, socialisation, transmission of societal values, and lastly knowledge dissemination. And somewhere along the line, the school turned into a place whose certification became mandatory, and the roles of the school and parents became almost one of combat.

What went wrong?

You as a parent are dealing with only one or two children, while we are handling many more, and hence at school, the business of nurturing is a little different. While we will love, care, and cherish the child, we also have to ensure that he learns values like sharing, kindness, protecting younger students, being part of a team, learning to accept “no” as an answer, and a host of lessons that go with the territory.

Today, because of nuclear families and competitive professional world, we know how stressed you are. Sometimes you may give in to a tantrum because of other pressing demands on your time. We cannot do that, as there are other kids to think of. You and we are not adversaries, we both want what is best for the child. Most schools have a planned schedule and usually give the children several days notice. Over the weekend make sure that all the jobs are done and material bought and kept. If your child is the sort who says that there is nothing to be done on a daily basis, you have social media groups of parents and teachers, do a discreet check-up. Don’t share all your anxieties, and thoughts on the group though.

If you believe that something not quite “kosher” has happened at school with regard to your child, STOP, this is not a topic for discussion on social media. Ask for an appointment and discuss it with the Principal and the teacher concerned. When there are Parent-Teacher Meetings make sure that you are present, and try and understand the school philosophy and help your child work with it. He/she is spending half of his/her waking moments in school, and it is essential that he loves the school.

The PTA: It is a body that aids the school in doing what is best for the child. It is neither a complaint redressal forum nor is it a forum for collective bargaining. Parents form the resource pool for the school and can help in raising the bar or standard of the school. Every parent is part of the PTA and their role is not that of a ‘watchdog’. Yes, if something terrible is happening in the school (not that it will) then you as a concerned parent must help out.

Fee hike: When we scout around for schools for our child, we do enough groundwork before zeroing down on a school. If we chose a private school, we have an approximate idea about the costs involved. It is easy to blame the management. Fees do need to be hiked periodically and unless the hike is unreasonable they must be paid up. Yes, there may be a few people who perhaps exploit parents by charging exorbitant fees.

But, ladies and gentlemen do understand, these teachers are nurturing TOMORROW in their classrooms TODAY. Do they not deserve to be paid well and treated as the nurtures of our national talent pool?