One fine Monday morning I woke up, washed my face, prepared breakfast and around 9, I headed out for the office in my bicycle. On the way, I saw few boys waiting for a school bus. Another boy came rushing towards his friends. The boy looked very excited. The excitement in him made me think how times have changed. When I was his age, I was never excited to go to school. And I can hardly remember any of my friends being that excited to go to school. Had there not been my friends at school, I guess I would have forced my parents to take me out of the school. The boy was in such a rush that I assumed he had something to share with his friends. I stopped my bicycle to listen to their conversation. The boy screamed that it was a holiday. And everyone was so happy. Some of them were literally dancing at the stop. I then, realized that time hasn’t changed much. Few seconds after, one of his friends asked why it was a holiday. The boy said that someone from their school had passed away. And the next question I heard from one of them was very hurtful. I couldn’t believe my ears. He asked how many days will their school remain closed? Was that supposed to be his next question? I then realized schools these days are even worse than in my time. I would at least show concern about such serious issues rather than focusing on holidays. What kind of environment are we creating inside our schools? At any cost, students just want to skip school. This made me realize that those students were going to the school just because they had to. They had no other options. How will students learn when they don’t enjoy going to school? If I had my own school, the following would be a few beginning steps to make school environment more friendly.
No school uniform:
We have a unique way of expressing love to our child. We try to provide them with their demand without any question. We don’t expect them to help us in the household work. This makes them feel that they are unique. And when they enter the professional world they realize that they are no longer different than their colleagues. They are all the same. People don’t treat them as the special one. Suddenly everything becomes so hard for them to cope in the professional world. I believe having school uniform will help students learn that everyone is same. But that is something that has to be changed at home rather than school. Having said that, school uniform leaves us with only disadvantages.
Birthdays used to be my best days at school. I could wear any dress I wanted while going to school. I remember how my teachers and friends praised my personality looking at my outfit on my birthdays. I didn’t want to look like hundreds of my other friends. I wanted to create my own identity. But my school rules only allowed me to live my dream once every year. During Dashain, my family used to take me out for shopping. And when they ask me to choose a dress I like, I used to request them to choose one for me. It took me a long time after I completed my school years to figure out it was OK to choose my own dresses. Letting students choose their own dress will help them become more independent. They will learn to express themselves. I agree that sometimes they might choose to wear dresses that are inappropriate for the school. This is when we, as a teacher, have to intervene and tell them why that is inappropriate. And most of the time you don’t even have to tell them. They will feel that something is wrong with their dressing style. This is how children learn. They need to experience the things before they believe it.
School is a community with large number of people with all possible ages. It is quite rare to see all students in one place at the same time. The only time they are together is during morning assembly. Assemblies help students and teachers to give the sense of community inside the school. But the way assemblies are conducted in schools does not look like it’s a community. It looks like some military troops are standing in a line for their training. Morning prayers and marching are the only things students do during assemblies.
We can tweak few things to make morning assemblies more effective and interesting for students. This is the perfect time to mix different grades together and perform group work. This is the time where students can learn from their elder or younger peers. This is also the opportunity for teachers from different grades to interact with students.
No desk and benches facing teachers:
Each and everyone inside the class has different life experiences. Everyone inside the class has their own expertise and certain set of skills. Classroom definitely is not a place with only one skilled person, teacher. But the way desk and benches are arranged in class gives that notion. Here is the link to the blog I wrote few months ago on different classroom setting.
Things I mentioned above are some basic steps that can be implemented in school without much preparation and additional infrastructure. Although there are other things that we need to change like the relation between teacher and students, teaching techniques to follow inside the classroom, these are the things that can be changed with very less effort. The above listed steps are not ideal. We might have to tweak these steps little bit to adjust it according the school and students.
– Roshan Bhatta