Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, October 9, 2008

By Faria Sanjana

According to the Thesaurus, 'school' is to “impart knowledge and skill to; coach, discipline, educate, instruct, teach, train, and tutor”. However schools in BD are a tad bit different nowadays. They sure do instruct, oh yes, they love to do that but the rest still remains quite doubtful. There was a time when schools used to be known as the “second home” where students not only were taught science, commerce or mathematics but also morality, physical education and some basic education that proved to be extremely useful in one's life. Recently it has been observed that the latter skills mentioned above are fast disappearing from school life.

Hop, two, three, four!
How many of today's kids get the opportunity to assemble everyday and practice exercises to keep fit? “In our days it was imperative for us to recite Sura Fatiha from the Qu'ran and then do drill lessons for half an hour. We also used to have a significant amount of play-time where games like bou chi and chor-police were most popular,” said Mrs. Jaoshana, a working parent. In addition to the above comment, Mrs. Jaoshana also expressed concern for the health of today's children as most neither get to carry out physical activities at home nor at school. Usually, it is the lack of space in maximum number of schools that prevent such activities from taking place. Try finding one good school in Dhanmondi that has a proper “field” and your search is bound to be in vain.

Loving thy neigbours
This might have been said by Christ ages ago but there was a time when such preaching was practised in school too. Religious classes covering on all faiths were taken. Even ten years back, topics like Hindu mythology were included in our religious discussion classes. Ask a fourth-grader today about religious classes, all you'll get is a blank look. We found out that the teachers could not “accommodate” a comparative-religions class since there were already too many subjects. How a child of class 4 could have so many subjects totally boggles the mind.

Moral science is another subject that is purely lacking in many schools. People of yesteryears still reminisce how they were taught about fundamental norms and values in school life. “School kids now are so arrogant! They hardly know how to behave properly with their elders,” complained Ahmed, bank professional. “It has become vital that children get moral education both at home and school or otherwise the future generation are in grave trouble,” he continued.

Sewing away!
Sewing or handicrafts classes are probably extinct in English Medium schools. Even ten years back, classes like these were taken very seriously, with regular tests and exams. They still have it in some Bengali Medium schools but even these are not as intense or widespread as before. From mandatory classes to optional clubs with dwindling membership, which had to be shut down because of lack of interest, the students are as much to blame for the extinction of this practice as are the faculties. Many students nowadays are simply not interested in learning the art of embroidery and even if they do the pressure on them that arise from their regular studies are so immense that these bar them from carrying out this craft.

Languages: the more you know the better
High schools in America put a great of effort on teaching a third language like Spanish, French or German. And if you know at least one of these, you're considered to be a properly educated person. But here, the system is kind of different. Some students of English Medium schools cannot even speak and read their mother tongue properly so getting to know about another language is totally out of the question. It's not completely their fault. Only a handful number of schools now provide third languages as subjects, whereas, you can ask your parents and you'll hear stories of learning Sanskrit and Latin .

Miscellaneous activities like singing and dancing take place in some schools but not as seriously as they used to during the 'olden' days. It is seen that once the students get 'smart' enough they start bunking classes. For this reason strict surveillance should be carried out. Also classes should be made interesting as well so that it attracts more enthusiastic pupils.

At the end, all work and no play really does make a child dumb. So instead of imposing so much pressure on today's kids, schools should also look into the other skills, which are absolutely necessary for life. And if you're one of the lucky few who have access to such program, try not to lose it since once you start applying for universities abroad, you'll keep regretting not joining the clubs at school.



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