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I had received a call from my friend to come over to her place as she wanted to discuss something very important regarding her 8+ year old daughter who was in class 3rd. She was one year elder to my daughter who was in class 2nd. They both were in different schools and one was in CBSE and the other one in ICSE.
When we were there and the kids got busy playing she told me how she was very upset and worried about her daughter's bad performance in her SA-1 exams (mid term exams). She was a working mother and a very responsible one as I knew her. She had a home and job to manage but took good care of her daughter. Her daughter Kiah was a bright child and had been good at studies but what had happened off late was a matter of concern.
According to my friend the school and teachers were to a great extent responsible for this. The curriculum was good, the books were good, even the faculty they had hired was qualified but the approach towards teaching was really pathetic. It seemed that course completion and that too with a rapid pace without taking into account the conceptual knowledge the kids were gaining was the root cause of her problem. She told me that she and her husband had somehow managed to make Kiah sail through the exams but her performance as expected was average. She wanted me to teach Kiah for around a month till she would arrange for a good coaching or group tuition class. She wanted to really search a good one. She knew that I taught my daughter and would take good care of Kiah's studies and I obliged.
When I asked her as to wether she and her husband were unable to give her time due to thier hectic schedules and so much to handle She told me that being a working mother it was impossible for her and her husband to sit with Kiah every single day for studies. They ensured everyday that she had completed her homework and helped her out with any problems if present. They enquired regularly about her school activities and even helped her with any special assignments or projects. She told me that she wants her daughter to be independent and not a child with whom the parents have to sit for an hour or so everyday to make them study. It can't be done in thier situation. They want the school to at least do as much as to explain a topic well and give good practice. Make basic concepts clear as if this is the case in 3rd it will be a major problem in higher classes when things are more difficult for the kid. She also told me that on holidays and weekends they pay as much attention as they can. But, the problem lies with the teaching pattern in the school. When SA -1 was approaching she had sat with Kiah to take a stock of her preparations and she was shocked.
-In subjects like grammar, computer and science Kiah had just mugged up things given in the book exercises and whatever little was done in the copy.
-She when asked her to explain simple concepts like difference in nouns, persons in pronouns, science concepts,and basics a child should know Kiah couldn't explain.
-The situation in maths was really bad. The explanation done was very unsatisfactory, time spent on very basic and important foundation chapters was less and it seemed the notebook was not used much. Practice was nil.
-Kiah was just cramming up many things and when asked to explain them was unable to do that. According to her mam had run through the chapters very fast and explanation was not there.
-Subjects like English literature and Hindi literature were the only ones as they are stories and poems based which she could understand herself and were clear to her.
My friends contention was that she understood and is not denying the role a parent has to play in a child's education but when they are paying so much to these reputed schools in the city who claim to be running at top 10 or 20 in different surveys and awards then is this the way they are teaching. She was happy with the number of activities the school was providing, workshops, programs, functions, excursions etc but was the basic being forgotten. After all our children go to school to study.
We all are aware that today parents and kids don't just want to follow that traditional old age pattern of " padoge likhoge to banoge nawaab" and people want their kids to learn and try so many new things, develop thier hobbies and even those days where doctor banega ya engineer banega have gone. But end of the day we all know that academics are important. To enter, survive, sustain and excel in any field academic subject knowledge is essential. If basic foundation is weak then forget clearing the ever increasingly difficult exams like IIT, CAT etc even higher classes like 10th and 12th will be a problem.
Kiah's case was making it clear that the teachers and the school had an agenda for an year to complete the stipulated syllabus but they were just rushing through it without caring about the concepts, fundamentals, practice a child needs specially in foundation classes.
When I tried to compare it with my child I found my friend was absolutely correct. I was a SAHM and made it a point to sit with my daughter every single day for at least 45 minutes and I had also felt and seen that even my daughter would face the same situation like Kiah if I would not help her learn the concepts. It was me and not the teacher due to which my daughter could perform. I recalled having heard about such problem being faced by other mothers too whose kids were in different standards in the school in which my daughter went. Even I had many times cribbed before my husband as to how poorly a chapter was being taught. Even my child's school and teacher was running at a rapid pace without clearing concepts and giving ample practice. If I was not there to explain her almost every chapter nicely she would also be in the same soup. I could see that when I being a SAHM had problem, what about working mother's, mothers who are not well qualified to teach thier kids, have 2 kids and can't give so much time or in a joint family don't get enough time. We actually can't depend on the school. A tuition class becomes the only option in many cases.
If we only have to handle the academic part what are schools there for?
I don't know how many people are facing the same. As a parent we all try to give the best schooling experience to our kids. I understand that schools and teachers have a tough job at hand and these days schools do various extracurricular activities but are they forgetting that thier major task which is teaching.