By Akshata Narvekar
Edited by Namitha Sadanand, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
Childhood memories are a treasured part of one’s soul. Whether good or bad, the sheer innocence of the heart is cherished in an innate manner. The school plays an imperative role in the well rounded development of a child. It is therefore crucial to recognise that a school does not play the role of a mere transferor of knowledge but also serves as the biggest source of inspiration to a young mind.
A young child is like unmoulded clay; the very first impressions on it are the most profound. As a child spends the most part of the day in the school, the influence the school has on the child is of great consequence. Nelson Mandela believed education to be the most powerful weapon to bring about change in the world. However, schools today display the academic performances of their students pompously in the hopes of achieving a desired status. Enormous banners and posters with photographs of students who have near perfect scores are displayed to garner the attention of passers-by and impress them with their accolades; this is just schooling. The schools ought to perform the roles of educators.
While academic prowess is top priority for most schools, there is an urgent need to realise that it is the primary influencer on a child’s psyche. Its urgency is owing to the fact that most children are now part of nuclear families and more often than not, have working parents. Hence, the school acquires the role of a chaperone, responsible for inculcating in the child a sense of well-being.
A good school takes upon itself the enormous feat of imparting discipline in a child. Habits formed during childhood act as a subconscious driver throughout one’s life. Be it something as simple as carrying a handkerchief or trimming nails regularly, or as profound as being punctual and respectful towards authority.
The school also becomes responsible for keeping a child fit by encouraging sports and exercise. By doing so, not only is the school tackling childhood obesity but also nurturing future prodigies and invoking in them an innate sense of team work, sportsmanship and assertive competitive spirit.
The initial signs of a creative mind emerge in art and craft classes, in school productions and plays, in various dance and music exhibitions, in science fairs and so on; the school is depended upon to recognise and further such talent. The school also has to teach children about being environmentally conscious, with cleanliness drives and encouraging eco-friendly practises like reusing, recycling, etc.
As Malcolm Forbes put it, “Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one”. Diversity in students enables students to fraternise with students from all walks of life; to be kind and respectful of other cultures and most importantly, to be tolerant towards various religions and beliefs.
The school’s most important ask in today’s time is to imbibe in children, the virtue of compassion. Where children nowadays lead a sheltered and privileged life, there is a need to understand that there are those less fortunate than them. A child who knows what it is like to be able to bring happiness into someone’s life is much less likely to be spoilt or extravagant. Activities of the school, which encourage philanthropic ideals, such as visiting an orphanage or an old age home or a school for the disabled, instils in a child a sense of compassion, which is carried throughout life.
Knowing that schools are capable of such great tasks, putting the future of our nation into the hands of schools which thrive on academic success only would be a great travesty- the onus of which would be too heavy to bear.