I was accompanied by my mom and school teacher (who happened to be my neighbor) when I walked to the school for the first time. I had absolutely no clue about the entire education system developed by our government with a single objective of keeping young minds busy with useless stuff.
There was no concept of K.G. in my village, nor there were any reputed institutions in area. I entered the building the Government Primary school in month of June. The first standard students did not the privilege to sit on benches they had to sit on the floor. I was not even first standard student. I was allowed to enter the school before my age only because the teacher thought my nuisance value was within her limits of tolerance.
I don’t remember much of my primary school days. There were 8 students in my class out of which only 3 made it to the high school. More than me my parents were enthusiastic about me entering the high school. My enthusiasm was mainly due to the new uniform and new stationary item that I got.
In 5th standard I started hearing words like Merit List and board examinations. It was noted by my well wishers(?) that I was capable of getting into merit list. Other intellectuals around me observed that I should prepare for this goal right from 5th standard. The total strength of my school was mere 200 students. It was situated on a hilltop and behind our school was a dark forest. There were two huge playgrounds where we spent most of out time.
I better not comment on the quality of infrastructure my school had. It was terrible. But human spirit is capable of overcoming all the odds. The school was setup by a visionary somewhere in the beginning of the century. Just like temples and churches my school to was a well respected organization in the village.
After my schooling I went to biggest colleges in Goa namely Chowgules and Goa Engineering College but I cherish my days in my high school the more. Not because of the education they gave me but for the wisdom they imparted to me. I remember every occasion when I failed to achieve something I desired, my teachers stood by me and gave me a few words of encouragement. I certainly fell in the ‘first bench scholars’ category but the treatment I received from my teachers was never special to make feel other students uncomfortable.
The atmosphere in my school was not like the cut throat competition that we see today everywhere. Most of my classmates just struggled to pass. Most of my teachers were in that profession because they could not afford to study further. What I saw in their eyes was a regret that they could not fulfill their dreams. They dint want similar things happening with their students. I still remember my teacher telling me constantly that “you always get what you desire, just make the desire more stronger”.
When I reached bigger colleges I realized importance of my school. I suddenly realized that there was no one to offer a hand when I fall. I was the last person to get admission into Chowgule College with mere 80% marks in SSC. When our chemistry Prof. asked for our introduction , after listening to my percentage he commented that ‘anyone is getting admission in our college these days , causing the standard to go down’.
The standard as he said was measured in marks scored in exams. The marks were nothing but your ability to transfer things from textbook to your brain and from their subsequently to the answer paper. I felt that the standard of a student should be measured by the passion he has for that subject rather than what he can score in a three hour test. I was told that the losers like me who never manage to top use this argument to defend their failure. Just the way people blame appraisal system when they don’t get desired band 🙂 . May be perhaps its true but I never surrendered before the system.
We had a ‘mad’ mathematics teacher. He was a self proclaimed philosopher and his views did not match with anyone. More than mathematics he told us his philosophies. Once he told us about programming languages. He told us that using programming languages we could design a bridge or anything and than sell the software for few million dollars. If its that simple, I will learn a few of those languages , I told myself.
Our Sanskrit, History, Marathi teacher was a person who had got his education from a pathshala. More than his subjects he would tell us stories than amused even the last benchers. He had a Hitler type mustaches and use to come up with a cane stick in his hand. Mispronunciations was what he hated the most and we always ensured that we irritate him with that. He occasionally told us jokes which involved linguistic humor and when we failed to understand the joke he would get frustrated.
My personal experience is that the nostalgic moments in our life are not those where we ‘did’ some thing but those where we dint do certain things. May be missed saying thank you to some one, may be missed bringing a change that I should have brought. Such moments in life remain like signboards in the memory lane. They sometimes decide the path you choose. Some people have daring to choose the path their inner self tell them to and some people just go with the flow. My school gave me the courage to choose the path I desire to follow rather than what others want me to follow.
My parents (and well-wishers) still express their disappointment with me that I dint get good marks in SCC or HSSC spending my time over useless stuff. They express their disappointment that I dint choose the stream ‘Electronics’ as it had maximum scope. But I know that education is not about scope and marks or grades. Its about knowledge. Knowledge is something that is left after you forget everything you learnt.
I missed the opportunity to thank my school for not making me just another spectacles scholar running after marks, class and scope. They exposed me to more wider horizons of knowledge and wisdom. I am not sure my good knowledge of any subject should be attributed to my school, but good qualities of my character should certainly be.