Guest Article #20: For the Joy of Sharing

School Education In My Time

By Divyaa Doraiswamy
Founder – GURUKULAM The Shloka Learning Centre (REGD), Bangalore

Foreword by Venkat
Matter exists in various forms, and each form has a specific melting and boiling point. Whatever fuels one may use, one has to reach the needed temperature to create the fire. Divyaa’s wonderful recollection and contrast of the schooling in her days and now tells us just that. While methods, formats, activities and social interactions change over time (and place), the role of a school remains the same – to ensure the same are given to the extent needed to light up lives till the end.
Experience the wonderful contrast with our present day schooling and impact of education in our lives through this enjoyable narrative!

Call me an ECONOMIST / SHLOKAPRENEUR or a SOCHCASTER…firstly I am a theist in every right. An extremely confident young lady in my early 40’s living in one of the most beautiful cities of India – Bangalore. I love the Temples I visit and absolutely long for the Annadanams I partake in every Thursday. My frequent visits to an old age home helping elderly parents who have been left to the mercy of the Lord to get free medical treatment and medicines is the best thing I’ve ever been a part of. Most importantly, GURUKULAM – THE SHLOKA LEARNING CENTRE isn’t a dream any longer.

Divyaa Doraiswamy
FOUNDER – GURUKULAM The Shloka Learning Centre (REGD) Shlokapreneur, Economist, Sochcaster, and Writer

School Education In My Time

Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.

Schools contribute to your learning beyond just teaching academics. Schools can cultivate students’ development in their social relationships, identity, emotional skills, and overall well-being. Schools are hubs of social activity and human interaction that are essential to learning and development.  Although there has been tremendous progress and many changes in school education over the years, certain things remain constant. For example, typical school timings, the subjects, a fixed curriculum for each grade, and extra-curricular activities contribute to the child’s overall development – all of this is prevalent even in school education today.

School education during my time has similarities and differences with the current school education. I did my schooling between the years 1984 and 1996. I attended my elementary school at one of the prestigious schools in Bangalore, Bishop Cotton Girls’ High School, and pursued my middle and high school education at Gokuldham High School, Mumbai. I have great memories of my school life. The schools I attended had a massive impact on my life and have shaped me into the individual I am today. 

I hail from a middle-class family, and my parents believed that education is the most valuable asset that they could provide for their children. Also, my dad was persistent in putting us in a school that he was an alumnus of, Bishop Cottons. Hence, my sister and I went to a school that had relatively high tuition fees. It was around Rs.200 per person per month back in the ’80s and around Rs.800 in the late ’90s, which was considered very high. My parents dedicated a big chunk of their income towards our education.

Back then, there was no access to technology whatsoever. We purely relied on the teachers, classroom lessons, notes, and textbooks supplied to us at the beginning of the academic year for our learning. Listening to the teacher with extreme focus, taking notes, and copying everything written on the blackboard was key to grasping concepts, gaining knowledge, and performing successfully in tests. If we missed a day because of falling sick, we would have to wait till the next day to get to school to get all the information. The concept of online lessons, submitting homework online, performing school tasks on a computer, projecting lessons on slideshows, or getting all the information over the phone on a day that you are absent, were completely alien to us. It didn’t exist.

The absence of electronics in our lives has many advantages. We spent quality time talking to people, socializing, playing many sports outdoors and staying active, and directly communicating with teachers when concepts were unclear. We wrote pages and pages of classwork and homework. Teachers, and textbooks supplied by the school, were our only source of references. We asked parents and friends for help if needed. Interacting with classmates fostered positive social relationships and honed our interpersonal skills. 

At Bishop Cottons Bangalore, the school would start at 8:30am with an assembly routine where the entire school gathered. School captains would walk around and check each kid for clean shoes, trimmed nails, and etiquette. We sang the school song every morning, important school announcements would be made, and then we would return to our respective classes for lessons. We had fixed periods every day for various subjects like English, Hindi, Math, Science, etc. Twice a week, we had extra-curricular activities like playing in the band, knitting, crochet, cooking, etc.

We had a 30 min snack break at 10.30am daily, during which we grabbed a quick snack and spent the rest of the time playing on the field. Kids would play basketball, hockey, volleyball, and other sports. There were a few tamarind trees on campus from where tamarinds would drop, and we would collect those and eat them. There was a hostel on campus where the boarders resided. We would sometimes walk up to the hostel with the boarders. Kids who lived in the hostel on campus were called boarders, and the rest of us were called day scholars. The campus would be bustling with activities during the break.

Bishops Cottons had a vast campus that had a lot of green space. We picked a spot under the shade of one of the enormous trees on campus during our lunch break and sat with our friends. This was the favorite part of my day. Each of us had a variety of food, based on our cultural background, that we would sometimes share. We would spend time sharing the events of the day with each other and take a stroll around the campus before the bell rang. After lunch, classes would resume, and our school would end at 3.30pm.

We had a vast library where we could borrow books and spend time reading books. I would stay back after school for half an hour every day to read books. We had optional scripture lessons on Fridays after school since it was a convent. I attended the scripture lessons to get a perspective on another religion than mine. The time I spent in school was the best part of my daily routine.

My experience at Gokuldham High School, Mumbai, was a little different. The school was a multi-storey building due to the lack of space in Mumbai. We climbed the stairs every day to get to our classes. The lessons taught in the classroom were the same, but the environment was slightly different. It took me a while to adapt to a new environment, new friends, and a new city. But within a few months, I had settled down and made friends. The culture in Mumbai was highly diverse, with people coming from different parts of India. It was an experience that added significant value to my life – the academic experience was similar with excellent teachers, but the social experience was different. I still keep in touch with all of my school friends.
The academic environment doesn’t change much no matter where you are, but the social environment does. The rigor, discipline, and social interaction that any school education inculcates is a vital tool for every aspect of one’s life. These are 3 factors that prepare you for your future. School education then vs. now might vary in certain aspects, but the fundamental basis for school education will forever remain the same.

By Divyaa Doraiswamy

Guest Article #21: Perfect Mom

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J Vaidhinathanj
J Vaidhinathanj
March 18, 2022 9:54 pm

Very nicely narrated. Interesting anectodes on school days life. Compliments to Divvyaji

March 18, 2022 10:21 pm

Schooling now and in earlier das is vastly different. Punishment for minor faults was heavy inthose days. Teachers use the footscales to strike a student. Nowadays teachers are banned to strike a student, but the students do well now as against before, Each one of us has had different experience. On the whole the present system is better and students more disciplined. They learn from books and and also fro environment to which they are exposed,