What does the word “school” mean to us? A place where we go to study; to know more; to be someone that we wish to become; discover our identity; uncover our potentials; accomplish our goals; achieve our dreams?

These are the usual thoughts that come to mind. But what if this isn’t the case and school isn’t turning out to be a place for fulfilling all these aim?

In reality, for many of us, school isn’t really what it is supposed to be. From the very start of our school life, we’ve been taught that we’re going to have parents in the form of teachers at school, but sadly, that isn’t the truth for most of us. We think we’re going to get treated exactly as we get treated by our parents, with love, care and appreciation. But things don’t exactly go as we imagine it.

In school, we aren’t taught, we’re basically made to run in a race that we don’t know the endpoint of. We’re just told to keep running, to keep learning, in other words, rote learn everything and if we don’t run faster than others, we’ll lose. If we don’t learn the syllabus by heart, without really understanding the content, we fail our exams. Only a few people make it to the top and earn themselves positions.

Many students stu­d­ying day and night become sleep-depri­ved and have these thoughts in their heads, ‘What if I don’t get the top position? I cannot let my parents down now, can I? What will people say if my grades are bad?’

Realistically, how can the whole class, comprising numerous students of different calibre, come first? It is impossible, but people still care so much for the top position in a class or exam. What about the others? Doesn’t the hard work of the rest of the students mean anything?

Only one kid out of the whole class gets appreciation while the rest get shamed and accused of not studying hard enough and being careless.

Family, teachers, principal and even relatives judge the poor souls for not topping in the class when most of these people could barely manage a B grade in their own academic life.

Why does the world treat the rest of us so badly? Do we not feel anything? Do we not have self-esteem? Shouldn’t those who judge at least think once before saying awful stuff to us? Isn’t the world being a bit too unfair?

The educational system should stop grading children with positions. If they’re going to appreciate a few, then they should appreciate all. No one deserves poor treatment because of a few marks. If someone gets really bad grades, then the teacher must reach out to the student and help and guide him.

Most teachers don’t even bother to find out why a student didn’t do well and instead degrade him in front of the whole class. When will teachers realise what they have been doing all this time? Degrading someone won’t make them study hard, it will only lower their self-esteem, make them hate themselves.

A teacher must be supportive, caring and loving when it comes to students. They must have a soft corner for their students. Even the naughtiest kid can be turned into a responsible one if treated with love and care. If a student is not attentive in class, then the teacher must not leave the student to be by himself. The teacher must talk to each student and maintain a friendly link with them. If the teacher is like a friend of the students, then students will pay full attention in class. If the right person is teaching, even boring topics become interesting.

Another point I want to highlight is that teachers often teach us topics in a way that relates only to the contents of the course book. They don’t bother to explore and expand the topic beyond what is in the course, thereby students fail to get a deeper understanding of the topic.

I have had a hard time understanding some things in school because, as far as I remember, teachers just read the contents of the book out loud in front of the whole class, explained the paragraph by merely paraphrasing it … and that was it.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in my class who faced this problem, and the sad part was that we didn’t realise how shallow our understanding of different subjects and topics were, maybe because we knew no better.

I am understanding those things now that were supposed to have been understood in the sixth grade. My college teachers, after teaching a certain topic thoroughly, with great explanation and suitable vocabulary, will sometimes say things like, “You must have studied this in such and such grade.”

I either stay quiet or simply say ‘no’ while I want to disclose that the teachers in my school just wrote things down on the board, explained the topic by simply reading from the book, which we too can do ourselves. And when I asked them to explain again, they would either snub me, or would explain it in a really confusing way that just didn’t clear the concept at all. I ended up giving the exams in school by the infamous rote learning method, understanding literally nothing. I spent 13 years in my school and I hardly understood half the things I was taught and forgot most of it soon after the exams as there was no deep understanding involved.

Our knowledge would have been much greater if we had good teachers and an environment that fostered research and understanding.

Our teachers should be like how Aamir Khan was in the movie Taare Zameen Par. That movie really was an eye-opener for most of us, but still many of us haven’t learnt a lesson from it. If people actually started learning good things from movies like that, then the world would sure be a much better place. How good would it be if all the teachers were supportive and motivating?

Lastly, the intelligence of an individual simply does not depend upon a report card. We shouldn’t let other’s negative opinions affect us. Take things easy, we are all shining bright stars of this constellation. None of us are black holes. There is so much in each of us, we just need the encouragement to explore our skills and find our true selves.

Published in Dawn, Young World, January 5th, 2019