Seven Essentials of Education parents need to know

When you look at education as Jesus the Word, the whole value system changes. June is an appropriate month for the schools to reopen because it is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the source of all wisdom.

Seven Essentials of Education parents need to know

By Joe Palathunkal
June is the month when schools reopen in India and parents in the cities are in panic regarding the admission and other things related to their children’s education. It is, therefore, better that they keep in mind a few essentials.

Choice of the school: Very often in a highly populated city, parents have little choice; after running around quite a bit frazzled, parents opt for any school that is available. This will do immense harm to their children’s development not just intellectually but even emotionally. So choose a school that is comparatively better regarding the academics and infrastructure.

Opt for a Catholic school: Catholic parents need to keep in mind that Catholic schools managed by priests and nuns have certain advantages comparing to other schools. History proves that modern education started with the Catholic Church because it was an institution that was a house of intellectuals, whether they were saints, popes or theologians. In a Catholic school this education heritage plays a crucial role when priests and nuns manage and teach. For, the Church believes that education means imparting the Word which was from the beginning as the gospel writer John says in his first chapter itself.

When you look at education as Jesus the Word, the whole value system changes. June is an appropriate month for the schools to reopen because it is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the source of all wisdom and wisdom as God’s eternal love. Catholic schools directly or indirectly, will impart that loving wisdom of Jesus in one way or other.

Crucial role of English: Parents can never ignore this most vibrant international language. The question is whether they can get good English medium schools in their city or town. Since more and more parents opt for English medium schools, they are mushrooming as fads and farce because it is pure business minus teachers who know at least the Basic English. During the last ten years in an anti-English state like Gujarat, a plethora of English medium schools have come up owned by people who do not know even the alphabets of English.

Only English education can make students global citizens with an international outlook and through English good humane and secular values would come to the students. Even if you call these values Christian, there is nothing wrong because English evolved in a completely Christian milieu and the very large thought-bank it carries has a Christian hue.

Ignore highly-advertised schools: As a teacher for the last 20 years, I have found that any school which is frequently advertised and is on an unusual display trend has certain inbuilt faults. This is all the more true in the case of Gujarat where school business moves on the popular Gujarati dictum: 'jo dikhta hai, woh bikta hai'(whatever is seen is sold).

I have seen only the Catholic schools moving on a diametrically opposite direction; sometimes it is very difficult to find out a Catholic school with minimum display board outside. No advertisements at all but grapevine information that is passed on from parents to parents or children to children. Now students and teachers have started deserting the highly advertised schools in Ahmedabad.

Academic atmosphere: This is a crucial aspect of the school education so that teachers have the freedom to think for themselves and interpret the lessons and explain to the students in their own way. Several private schools are having too many restrictions on the teachers regarding the teaching methods and materials. In some schools trustees themselves go and sit in the classroom frequently when a teacher is teaching making him or her diffident and cautious.

Too much monitoring will spoil the academic atmosphere and over and above, blaming the teacher for everything under the sun; teacher is the Lamb of God on whom all the sins are bundled and kept. Some parents are congenitally prone to blame the teacher for anything and everything turning a blind eye to their ward’s error zones.

No push up education: There is a popular saying in Malayalam that don’t push up anyone on the tree, and you know what happens when you leave the hands. I have observed this major fault line of the parents who push up their children from day one of their school life. They sit with their children till late in the night to make their ward to complete the homework and in most cases doing the homework themselves. Such students will never grow up taking responsibility for their own study and some parents themselves look at the timetable to keep the books in the bags. These students will lack the ability to be self-reliant as they go up to higher classes.

Disciplined students: A school where students are not disciplined, where they don’t keep silence in the class room, such a school will definitely have a bad reputation to hold and such schools can negatively impact the intellectual and moral development of students. Many schools keep CCTV cameras not to observe the students but to observe the teachers, and this indirect message makes students go haywire with least respect for teachers; and more and more restrictions on teachers regarding scolding and reprimanding the students have made the situation worse.

Where teachers are scared of students that is indeed a putrefied school system. Our educationists and school managers must learn something from Germany in this regard where no student does any unruly behavior in the class and when they want to ask a question, they don’t shout together, but they only raise the finger in an orderly manner.

These are the few essentials parents must bear in mind regarding the education of their children and it will do immense good for their children as well as for themselves. This is the true Christian way of education. As John Dewey said education must be experience based and in a school with good academic atmosphere and discipline among students, teaching and learning would become a memorable experience for all, and to select such a school is the difficult task of the parents.

(Joe Palathunkal is Associate Editor, Living in Faith)

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