Freedom from the traditional schooling system
This blog post was written by Kavya Shah, a 10th-grade student from Riverside in Ahmedabad.
Over the past few years, schools have become institutions that can be compared to factories that churn out individuals armed with the ability to follow instructions, get good grades and follow the crowd.
It won’t be very late until this bunch of students may realize just as the batch before them did, that in this world you don’t need people who follow the rules, but instead, need people ready to question and raise their voice. But do we have people like this? Is it too late to get rid of the laid back attitude that has developed as a result of our schooling system? And more urgently, why is this attitude prevailing?
According to me, it is because students are not taught how to deal with freedom and the ability to make choices based on their own preferences, but are forced to follow the norms decided by the people around them.
If we look back in history, schools were made to train children to be good factory workers. A child would go to school to learn how to be a good employee, and to learn to adapt to factory work conditions. It is due to that ideology that students had to sit in rows, not talk in class, follow the instructions, not raise their voice and ask permission for everything they do.
Traditional schools have rules that restrict their students from exploring and defining their personalities. There are rules regarding the dress code, studying and relationships that often suffocate students, thus stopping them from identifying their true selves. Everyone needs time for themselves, away from the chaos of life, where they can be who they are without the fear of judgment. Wooden chairs, a dusty blackboard and a howling teacher’s voice is clearly not going to give every child the space and time needed to grow in a safe environment.
In contrast to that, I believe that schools today need to teach students to do well not only with regards to academics. Schools need to let students be free, allow them to explore, and learn what they are passionate about. Not every child is meant to be an engineer or a doctor. They might want to be a pilot or a writer, but they’ll never know what they love, unless the school gives them the freedom to explore.
Freedom comes in different forms, and I am blessed that I go to a school, which gives me the wings to fly, as well as a net to fall back on when I stumble. In my school, I have the freedom to choose what I want to wear, what I want to study, and learn the way I learn best, which is through peer learning and reading. My friends feel that they learn best by watching videos and playing games, which is also something that my school accounts for. Everyone learns differently, and if an educator understands that, then the learning graph of a child will begin to slope upwards, as they will actually take the interest to learn. This process has helped me to grow into the kind of person I want to be, rather than be a manifestation of what society expects me to be.
Last year, my school gave our class the opportunity to find a topic that interests us, and present/write a paper on it. I picked feminism and studied it to its core. The freedom to choose something so freelanced and different has helped me evolve as a person to find what I believe in. This process helped me to become a feminist. My peers chose various other topics, some have been able to decide on a major for college based on this experience and some have understood what ideas they do not align with.
A child is like a bamboo shoot, should be grounded, yet free to reach the sky. It should be monitored and looked after, but also given plenty of fresh air and sun. Being in a space that allows me to be who I am is what has helped me to be confident and comfortable in my own shoes.
Academics and marks are definitely important. But I believe more strongly in my school’s philosophy, which states that if you feel good, you will automatically start to do well. I have now reached the belief, that if you are happy and confident, it will effortlessly translate onto the exam sheet too. The majority of traditional schools in India cater to only the academic aspect of a child’s growth. However, for holistic development, along with academic outcomes, it is also important to do well personally. It is that freedom to express yourself that makes all the difference.