A school is the one of the first social systems a child assimilates with. It is also known as ‘the second home’. I looked up the true meaning of ‘home’ and the result said – Home means an enjoyable, happy place where you can live, laugh and learn. It’s somewhere where you are loved, respected, and cared for.
Let me tell you, I never felt loved, respected or cared for in this ‘supposed’ second home of mine – rather I was scared, confused and anxious most of the time. And I was not even a troublemaker. Maybe something was wrong with me. Maybe with the school. We will never know! Or will we?
I sat down to think of all the things wrong with the school I went to, whilst I was pondering upon my per contra experience. Here are a few (or many) things that I came up with:
- The public shaming in the name of punishment
From a very early age, I witnessed ‘public shaming’ in the name of punishment.
Here are a few I can remember –
One of my classmates in ‘SECOND GRADE’ was punished for not doing their homework by being dressed up as a girl in two ponytails and exhibited throughout the school. I didn’t know being a girl was supposed to be shameful until then.
In fourth grade, another classmate was made to take off his pants in front of everyone in class. Great way to engrave a long-lasting shame with their body, eh?
Apart from that, outing students in the school assembly and making them feel shameful for some rules they had broken – exhibiting them the whole day on the school stage was a normal occurrence.
When someone does something wrong, you correct them. Or as schools of our country suggest, you punish them – physically, mentally, and emotionally – and put them in psychologically compromised state. This mentality is not just wrong, but according to me, felonious!
When I was in tenth grade, a guy had given me a love letter – which the school administrator found. I was slapped in front of the whole class. Before that, I had not broken any rules or done anything bad to be ‘punished’. This was the first time, and let me tell you, it took me a lot of therapy to toss the shame it left, out of my system.
Humiliating a child in their development stage of life, and making them feel as though they deserve to be shamed publicly is one of the most evil things you can do. I don’t know how these people are permitted to be educators.
Instead of this public shaming, if children were given proper communication, asked questions in an empathetic manner and made them feel safer in this ‘second home’, more kids would grow up to be confident and secure with themselves.
- The sexist dress-code
I’m sure everyone collectively agrees to this. The dress code in schools is unambiguously sexist. In my school, the girls were supposed to wear skirts that should go below the knee, have two braided plaits, and tie a ribbon that the end of the plait like a bow to a present. Well, girls have to be ‘presentable’, right? Boys did not have such requirements. I had to spend at least 20 minutes just braiding my hair and tying my ribbon.
From an early age, this school was dictating the way we interact with our bodies. What benefit does hiding our knees and braiding our hair serve to our education? And if they had a problem with our knees, why not just have everyone wear pants?
I remember all the girls were lined up after the school assembly to have our dress checked by a female teacher holding a stick. I don’t know about others, but personally, I felt quite objectified.
- If you come first, you matter the most to us!
Last I remember, everyone pays the same fees. In our capitalistic society, this implies that the teachers are supposed to give equal treatment to all the students. But it was always so far from this.
Exams determined how we were treated by the teachers. Were we the queen of the system or subject to further humiliation – exams would decide. The person who came first or at least in the top five was given extra attention, talked to more politely and basically mattered more in the school’s eyes. People who got average to less grades were ignored, punished and scolded.
I’ll never forget the famous ‘section divide’ that happened in ninth grade. Everyone who got good grades were in ‘A1’ and everyone who didn’t were in ‘A2’. Sounds like train compartments to me now.
If you want to tell your students that they don’t matter, be direct and use your words. Don’t use these metaphors and symbols. Oh wait, you use words too!
Using grades someone gets in exams to determine someone’s worth is completely unethical. The schools never consider the mental state a student is in, the cognitive ability of the child and the factors affecting the grades they are getting – they just care about a few numbers. And hey, just a reminder, it’s problematic and screws with student’s self-esteem big time!
- The mandatory competitions
It’s not a surprise that everyone is not good at everything. And not everyone is interested in everything. But my school thought otherwise. We had mandatory drawing competition, essay competition, handwriting competition, and mathematical race, amongst others.
Here’s a surprise, almost always the same people won. Why? Because those are the people who are good at it.
Wouldn’t it have been better if these competitions were not mandatory? Those who are interested would participate, and the competition would be fair. Instead, they made everyone participate in the race, even those who were not interested in it.
I had an irrational fear of drawing competitions because I was so bad at drawings. What was the point of it?
- Values? Morals? Naah. How about equations and theoretical explanations?
I can safely say that I learnt no morals and values from my schooling. Oops, wait, they had moral education – respect your elders, love your juniors. Yes! Okay I learnt one moral from school. Apart from that, nothing!
I had a total of eight subjects in tenth grade, and I can’t even count down right values I learnt from school. I learnt a lot of equations and theories though. None of which I remember or care about now. Well, I still care about Grammar, though!
My point is, the things I value the most in life right now, things like empathy, compassion, kindness, freedom, equality, justice, standing up for yourself, confidence, self-love – none of these were taught in school. But I surely gained insecurities, herd mentality, self hating, and self blaming from school and that took years of unlearning!
Hey, maybe we need a revamping of the education system, what say?
These are the five things wrong with the school I went to. For 10 years! But these are not the only ones. There are more! But I know people have a small attention span, so I stopped myself. I’m sure everyone can relate to these points – the whole education system is problematic and needs a complete makeover!
If you’re thinking I am a rebel who was always punished in school and now I’m hating on it – the answer is NO! I was a really studious person – I still am. But when I got out of the school, I had nothing to take back apart from the academics. I was super underconfident, had extreme self esteem issues and could not even introduce myself with ease. So, hey – maybe something was wrong!
Maybe with myself. Maybe with the school. Maybe with the system. We will never know.