Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Brand New School Year

School, growing up was so uneventful. Back to school, after summer vacation was mostly all about a composition or an essay detailing 'What I did on my summer vacation', tons of holiday homework and knowing and recognizing that playtime was cut from all day to just 4 hours in the evening. Back to school shopping wasn't something to look forward to either. Except when we went shopping for a new school bag or a new pencil case. That was when you could get really creative.

Of course, when you compare going to school in India, two decades ago, to schooling in the US now, the difference is collosal.

Over the past few weeks my television viewing has been peppered with commercials from every big store in America advertising their back to school sales. From shops selling stationery to shops selling mattresses (you need a good night's sleep before going to school!) all of them are cashing in on the back to school fervour.

Even sending children to school for their first day seems to be a big deal in America. My friend E's daughter just started going to big school. By big school, I mean she started kindergarten. So she is now in school for six hours in the day and rides in the big, yellow school-bus. After dropping her off on her first day at school E got a little present from her daughter's teacher. It was a little, white paper bag with a tissue, a tea-bag and a cotton ball. With this strange assortment of things was a short note, which explained, '''I thank you for entrusting your daughter in my care. This packet contains a tissue to wipe your tears after you drop your child off at school. Then go home and use the tea bag. Make yourself some warm tea and soothe your frazzled nerves. Finally, hold the cotton ball close to you, so you can feel the gentle spirit of your child.''

Even the months before kindergarten were filled with drama. To get the kids all excited about school and learning, pre kindergartens across the country have a little graduation ceremony. By graduation, I mean, a whole class of four-year-olds wearing a cap, gown and holding scrolls, walking down the school aisle, while proud, excited parents applaud their child genius.

Compare that, to the school that you remember.

(Rati Ramadas has worked as a journalist for 4 years and covered education for the greater part of that. Education and new methods of schooling has always intrigued her. She loves writing short stories and hope to publish some someday.She blogs and rants about day to day life and travels at Odds and Mi)

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