I dream of a school that encourages healthy competition and brings out the best in children but also which lays stronger emphasis on collaboration with a feeling of ‘we first’ rather than ‘me first’. One where a subject like community service would be compulsory from the early years and would create awareness of the need to work toward a greater good rather than one’s self sufficiency alone.
I dream of a school where children who display genius in language, science and math get a path to reach their maximum potential but also where standardization is no longer the law. A school where those who are clearly not on the same path are given equally promising alternatives, that are actually useful in daily living, that resonate with their aptitudes, preventing loss of self-esteem & confidence, giving every child a fighting chance at realizing their abilities.
I dream of a school that ensures that while the intellect is enhanced with the best auditory and visual tools, methods like the full body integrated learning technique, which is the most natural way to learn, are also used to develop the same. As Sir Ken Robinson puts it, the body should not just be seen as a medium to carry that huge brain everywhere.
I dream of a school with the best facilities and highly equipped classrooms but also one which will bring children closer to nature, where they are allowed time to just get in touch with the earth and are happy to be all immersed in it with the freedom to be messy.
I dream of a school where children are groomed to be innovative, to find new ideas for the future that would enable making and selling things to provide better living for us all but also one which teaches sustainable environment with equal emphasis. Promoting minimalistic living to reduce manufacturing and in the process providing a future to this planet is an urgent need. A school where ‘Growing your own food’ is an important subject taught throughout the school years would bring an understanding of what it means to actually nurture what we have as well as reduce over consumption and wastage.
I dream of a school which lays tremendous importance on the quality of its early childhood education and care. One that introduces left brain skills with the best possible teaching tools but which understands that ‘earlier is not better’ and sees kindergarten as a place to work on the right brain which has its biggest growth spurt up until age 7 – a place to sing, dance, play, explore, get creative, interact and indulge in practical learning with a carefully planned transition from home to school.
I dream of a school where children are taught to be one with society but also to strongly love who they are, and understand the value and the privilege of being unique rather than feel the pressure to fit in. A space where each child can bring their individual abilities to class and be celebrated for it so that being ‘the odd one out’ becomes ‘the special one in’.
I dream of a school where children are patted on the back for a job well done but not labeled by the jobs they do or don’t do well – instead they are given the freedom to explore their potential without being limited by prejudice based on their current performance.
I dream of a school where there is discipline yes! But also where a closer look is taken at what seems to be an ‘imperfection’ in a child – cause very often what we deem to be an issue with the child is actually an urgent expression of something we ourselves are not doing right for that child.
I dream of a school that is proud to be Indian but also remembers that we are citizens of this world and all cousins in one way or another and that there is just so much to learn from each other and so much beauty and strength in diversity and yet unity. Communal Harmony is the need of the hour and acts of prejudice have become an everyday news item. A subject called ‘The World is my Oyster’ could have students exploring enriching aspects of other countries or cultures that we could adopt here at home and aspects that we could contribute to the world.
I dream of a school that is run as a profitable enterprise but not to the point where the profit is its end and it loses its heart and purpose – a school that changes the definition of success – one that, by its own example, teaches that it’s not how rich you get or how high up the corporate ladder you go that measures your worth but how much humanity you possess and how much of a difference you strive to make to a world that desperately needs healing. Each day children could pick one selfless thing that would make someone else happy and then make it happen.
I do not know how and when this school of my dreams will materialize but I’m determined to do my bit of trying to be that teacher and mother that works towards this cause. And I know for sure that someday it will find its way into existence, because every beautiful reality started with a dream!
By-Swara Patel and Priya Colaco