As part of a recent writing exercise, many students wrote about what part of the school experience is truly special and unforgettable. This is Sir’s response to their writing:
In many years that I ran the school, I have never stopped being astonished at the forgiving nature of children.
There are many occasions when I have rebuked you. Sometimes I even expressed my displeasure and disappointment in quite harsh words. I am quite articulate, and the downside of that articulation is that my rebukes can be quite brutal. Of late, those sharp words have often been directed at you for not reading with pleasure, for not reflecting and introspecting, for having shallow conversations, for being mentally lazy – overall for not engaging with the world around.
Overall, of late, I have not really shown much affection towards you. Displeasure took precedence. Common meetings, which were earlier full of laughter, became a somber occasion. From my side, there was a feeling that if you do not appreciate those great tweets, if you don’t engage during those great movies, and if you don’t love those great books, then you don’t really love the school.
However, as I read through your writing about what it is that you love most about the school, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the common meeting still remains your favourite (in spite of my repeated scoldings during the common meeting). You fondly talked about discussions on movies, tweets, Sapiens and Mughals. Many of you talked about the ‘perfection’ that our school represents.
That got me thinking: what makes our school perfect? What is it about our school’s idea that’s worth preserving? Most outsiders might think it is the great scores in IGCSEs, APs, SATs that makes our school great. Most of them would think the US college admissions will further cement that greatness.
However, our school was always great, always perfect, even when it was located in a small rented building in Dangalpara. Maybe it was even more perfect than it is now. What made our school perfect was that I was always happy seeing the students in the morning, and students were happy entering the school, and that happiness came from the classroom experience. I did not care about scores. I knew that the scores, results, university admissions will happen when the time comes. I wanted to create a place where you feel happy learning. I wanted to create a place where you feel loved.
And it was out of that love I did everything. My dislike for textbooks came from that love. I wanted to protect you from textbooks and exams as long as possible. I wanted you to enjoy reading, so I simplified many books so that you are not deterred by difficult words. But of course I wanted you to learn new words too, so we set out to make vocabulary discussions fun: so much fun that they inspired a couple of pages in my ‘Superschool’ story.
Even that story was written because I wanted to entertain my class. We always read stories about other people’s lives, but our lives here are also fascinating – and my students that time demanded that I write about ‘us’.
We conceived the Twitter initiative so that you can first enjoy writing short, stylized sentences before you have to write long, boring essays for exams. We made many interesting exercises like Pair Pattern or Multiplication Kakuro so that you do not find Arithmetic to be a series of mind-numbing calculations.
I wanted you to know history, but not complain about the subject like the way we did in our childhood days. So we dug out books like Mughal series, Century Trilogy, or Animal Farm, or movies like ‘Life is Beautiful’ or ‘Danton’. Every bit of the school, every material, every class was planned so that you feel happy learning.
So that’s really at the crux of the ‘perfection’ that many of you talked about in your writing: we created a place where you feel happy learning. We created a place where you feel loved. That’s the reason for all our hard work, all the battle with the society.
And it felt very good to see that you understand it at a deeper level, so much so that all the recent rebuke could not eclipse it. You instinctively knew that the scolding was not really for the scores, but it was an appeal to you to enjoy the truly enjoyable things about the school: beautiful literature, the insightful discussions, and the great movies.
May we together always try to preserve this perfection. From our side, we will try to keep the school experience as happy and enjoyable as it always was. From your side, you must remain curious about the world, responsible about yourself and others, and as nice and innocent as you always have been.