‘Back To School’

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My room is always a mess and so is my almirah. At times I am bitten by the cleanliness bug and I do set about making order of chaos. And the last time I was involved in this mission I came across a neat packet of my school ‘Report Cards’.

It was all there, properly arranged in order, from L.K.G. to XIIth standard. And as I went through them cursorily, I realized that I must have been the most erratic student in the KG section for in one term I was rated ‘Excellent’ in nursery rhymes and ‘Very Poor’ in the very next.

My primary schooling was by far the most illustrious period of schooling though it had its share of aberrations as well. Like in my IInd standard report card my class teacher wrote, “Congratulations for a nice result. Vijay is rather shy in English conversation and should improve.” However much to my parents delight my Principal wrote, “Excellent. Keep up the spirit. You will still do better and bring name and fame to the school.”

Entering the Middles was a very exciting period and I must have lost all track of my studies. It reflected in my next report card with my class teacher commenting on my mid-term performance,”Has grown lethargic lately. Should bestow more attention to studies.” I bucked up enough to regain lost ground and finished 3rd in the class. And that very year our Principal chose to personally give away the report cards to the students ranked 1st to 3rd. Thus my father was overwhelmed to see me receive the card from him.

But again my personality did not change character as yet another class teacher wrote, “A shy and intelligent boy who is quiet and soft in his manners. Lacks initiative. Should participate in various activities.”

Well finally in my seniors, things began to deteriorate rapidly. I filled my parents with great concern and dismay regarding my progress. My class teacher wrote, “Weak in Maths. Maths is like a game, try to win the game.” In those days the trouble with me was not that Maths was a game rather the steady practice that is required to shine. It was then that I realized an aspect about the report card which troubles every average kid –  I used to dread its arrival. My group of friends unanimously felt that if the world could do without something then it was surely a report card.

Well matters came to a head and the worst happened. I failed in Maths in my XIIth prelims. My father was a very sad man on that day. My elder brother was more sympathetic. He had empathy for me for both of us had been, in our times, weak in Maths. He explained and I listened carefully to his advice. Finally I gave a decent enough performance in the Main exams. With that I said farewell both to my school as well as Maths.

And now to look at these report cards – dead and lifeless, offering only a mere shadow of the emotions they used to conjure up. These cards are but memories of the ecstasies when I did well and of my fears when I did badly. While replacing them I realized how integral is a child’s education in parenting. It has its ups and downs, joys and sorrows for the parents. And, to my regret, I caused more anguish and pain than joy to my parents as I mapped the long course of twelve years of schooling.

Written by me while I was attending my final year at Fergusson College in Pune, India pursuing my B.Sc. (Chemistry) degree. It was published in a local English daily ‘Maharashtra Herald’ on Jan 22, 1998 as an article appearing in ‘The Middle’ column. I was in my early 20s and enjoying my college.

Post my schooling, I focused a lot on my studies and topped my college as a F.Y.B.Sc. (Chem) student. I won a scholarship for the same, along-with another one for topping the Zoology group. I went on to pursue my post-graduate degree in Management from NMIMS, Mumbai.

This phase best represents my shift from an academic ‘rote based’ learning culture to one that involved experimenting with my interests in life and applying the same. Schools and parents should encourage youngsters to explore this aspect about themselves within the prescriptive demands of the academics.

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