whisper campaigns on wings (sanitized version, really!)

A Rosicrucian master’s take on the prime way of life: ‘To love where I am, love who I am with, and love what I am doing’

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This period of October to January is always an interesting (actually endlessly entertaining) part of any given academic year. Do you want to know why?

This is the period in which the angst laden parents (luckily, they are in a minority) have grave self doubts and plan to check out the other schools – and ask you what are you going to do, given their perceived situation.

The fact that many schools start dishing out their application forms for new admissions in this period, does not help the situation. Parents take their company provided vehicles and religiously visit all the alternative and no-alternative schools and simply exhaust themselves. If the current school is perceived to be having an X attribute, they want it to have a non-X attribute – for any given value of the attribute and drive themselves (and others) nuts.

The following table roughly indicates the thought(!) processes going on in the minds of these kinds of parents:

Current status perception Wanted status

( Given value of X)                                                    (non – X)

Concentration on arts                                                 Concentration on Sports
Concentration on Sports                                            Concentration on arts
No exams                                                                          Yes Exams
Yes exams                                                                        No exams
Open                                                                                    Close
Close                                                                                    Open
Textbooks                                                                         No textbooks
No textbooks                                                                  Textbooks
Discipline                                                                          Freedom
Freedom                                                                            Discipline

….                                                                                         ….

This sad listing can go on and on, but I suppose, you get the drift…

However, the real reality in any given simplistic dyadic interpretation is somewhere between the extremes and most of us don’t realize it, unfortunately. We look for ideal solutions. Fine.

The oscillations of these species of parents between (x and non-x) are sensed and picked up by the children. The children want to be close to their parents, naturally. Some of these kids invent scenarios, interpret things out of context and some clueless parents zoom in on the trivia and get agitated about the current school to which their kids go… Some of these parents even set up a temporary cabal and share their adventures with like mindlessed folks. Oh fun.

And, of course BSNL, Airtel & Co benefit a lot in this merry-go-around. It is all economy and growth, stupid. May be NammaShaale would benefit by getting a commission on all these cabal calls. Hello? Where is the business development manager(alliances), when the school needs one??

Seriously, I think this is likely to be a problem only with the parents of kids who go to the so-called ‘alternative schools’ – who think that they are ‘thinking people’ and so have the correct solutions for all problems & ills of the world including the incessant birthday parties. They never come to terms to the fact that they (at least, most of them) are merely armed chair activists and so, are never at peace with themselves. I am a parent of this mode.

Au contraire, the parents that send their kids to the so-called ‘mainstream’ schools, have no such delusions of grandeur and noodle-headedness. They and their kids plod thru with whatever current status they are in, trying to maximize on the available opportunities. I am also a product of this mode.

Frankly, I don’t know which mode is better. You judge.

Oh well. We have been on the receiving end (mostly) of these interesting conversations for the past few years. We don’t have a TV set at home, but enough soap operas and saas-bahu drivel are specially enacted for us by a few fellow parents with complications resulting from noodle-headedness. Oh yeah, some of these parents are not even NammaShaale parents!

Not only that these parents are confused – they, at least some of them, spread the paranoia around, ably aided by hilarious imagination and little truth. . The relentless and mindless Indian whisper starts and the result is oodles of entertainment. Really…

Eventually, as it happens, these uncalled-for perceptions and rumours, reach the ears of the persons against whom the whisper campaigns are mounted, and the result is a total disbelief for a few seconds, and a while later, hysterical laughter on part of the targeted individuals! I am giving a few instances (well, some of them really, really happened, believe me!) of the paranoia and illogical logic of some of us, to provide some fun.

Please note that if you replace NammaShaale, say, with ‘Prakriya Green Wisdom School’ or some such reasonable school, these species of parents would have the same kind of complaints! So much for socialism!!

  1. Teachers in NammaShaale go to school only for two days a week at best. On any given day, you can be sure that only support staff would be present. Even if the teachers come to school by some random chance, they spend of a lot of time in meetings. No wonder my child is not self directed! (Um, I would think – if actually children are not with adults in the school by and large, then there is no other way for the children to be adult directed anyway. Please note that, meeting-surfing can be done only at the corporate ‘premises’ of your spouse; in a school, it is next to impossible to sail from meeting to meeting, pretending that some honest work is indeed being done! May be you should try to act as a teacher in the school for a month!)
  2. Teachers in NammaShaale don’t go to school for two days a week! I wonder how the children are faring! (Ma’am, you can hallucinate and wonder, since you have too much time in your hands, but I know for a fact that most teachers, except yours truly, work for nearly 7 days a week, one way or the other. And, they actually slog it out… I wonder whether you would even survive a week in this kind of a set up.)
  3. My child tells me that he does not study at all in school, and all he does is slicing vegetables & rolling rotis, what kind of a school is this! I am horrified that he enjoys it too! (at least, he will be a good, helpful husband in future, unlike your husband – what do you think?)
  4. My child is using some words that in our household that we don’t utter! What is this? (the child knows it gets a reaction from you, he is just testing, don’t worry; on the contrary, feel free to use some slang that is not immediately intelligible to the child – learn to swear in say, Mongolian)
  5. The school is going to be taken over by the Highways department, and they want to setup a NammaDriving school there! Don’t you know? Already a lot of the school land is acquired. (True. The school is actually planning to shift to the Barton Center on MG Road. Don’t you know this? Actually the school feels that it would be closer to nature this way! In any case, the surreal estate prices at Hennur-Bagalur Road are likely to be cheaper than on MG Road.)
  6. There are no organized sports activities – how will the children learn teamwork and goal setting? (Sir, actually the children all they want and more about this teamwork business in the class environment itself; but may be you are talking about the extravagant and funny ‘offsites’ periodically conducted at your MNC for fostering the team spirit, please beer with the school! On the contrary, you don’t even know of the efforts taken by the school to bring in ‘organized’ sports, coaches and all that…)
  7. The classrooms are open – there is too much wind. There is too much atmosphere. Too real.
  8. The classrooms are closed – they are too cold.
  9. The school environment is noisy; there is too much traffic on the road. (May be you should stop using your car and avoid going to the airport at all, don’t you realize that you are also contributing to your issue?)
  10. The school is in a faraway desolate place – it is so silent; in an emergency how can you reach the nearest hospital? (you see, NammaShaale has tie-ups with hospitals in Chennai and Hyderabad; in an emergency, we can quickly whisk away the patient to the 5-star hospitals there; you know, the school is nearer to the Devanahalli airport as opposed to the Bangalore city hospitals and by our remarkable strategy, we would beat the Bangalore traffic snarls all hollow! The patient will actually get the medical attention ASAP. Agreed?)
  11. There is too much Kannada, Hindi and non-classroom work.
  12. There is too little of Kannada, Hindi and non-classroom work.
  13. The school buses take the road on which we stay, but they refuse to stop at my doorstep to pickup my children; the drivers are uncooperative, they switch off their phones and drop the children off in random places! (Ma’am, surely you know that it is slightly difficult for the buses to go all the way to your 4th floor apartment; we tried, but the lift/elevator sizes are very small at your apartment block. Again, the drivers are drivers, they are not telephone operators)
  14. The children are not allowed to take their iPods and Sony PSPs and PDVD players to school! What kind of a pathetically paleolithic school is this? Shouldn’t we move with the times? (please go to VidhyaScalpting school or some such. They gladly allow these gadgets, I think)
  15. You know, from next year, the school is going to be managed by a Parent-Teacher association and the decisions taken by this PTA will be final and binding on the folks who are running the show! We would soon register the PTA as a society. (Good luck on your planned coup d’etat, sirs and madams; operating a school is no monkey business, it has only hygiene factors)
  16. The school is not inclusive in the decision making processes. We want to be part of all meetings in school! We want to take part in the deliberations, which will affect the school and its children. (Madam, there are very few structured meetings required for a school of this size. Besides, we know how a normal meeting will go – there will be more of eating then meeting. And, actually we have had quite a few of these eating-meetings, been there, done that. The school actually believes in getting the job done, period)
  17. Everyday my elementary child comes back with soiled undies! Can’t the child be cleaned properly after he uses the toilet? Aren’t we paying the fee?? (Madam, your son is only ten years old. Hence I understand that he may not know how to clean himself, it is quite sad that the school is indifferent about this. But, tell me, who cleans his father at his office? Does he send his output as a mail attachment to his VP-Admin or what?)
  18. My child does not have the time, there is way too much work. She has to attend classical dance, hindustani music, language, tennis, badminton, vishnu sahasranaamam (or bible classes), ballet, keyboard, swimming and kabaddi classes thrice a week. The school is harassing her – they are asking her to focus. How can the child have energy to do so much work at the school too?(Madam, please stop this driving up and down nonsense, ferrying your child to various classes – you are leaving a lot of blackholes in your wake; our poor earth will soon get sucked in to your blackholes, much, much before 2012!)
  19. The school is not making my child focus on anything at all. There is way too much of freedom for the child. There is too much of child directed inactivity. (What? You feel that she has to go for IIT prep classes at the ripe old age of 6 itself, is it?)
  20. The child is focusing on only a few things, that too very deeply; she knows too much about some things and not at all about other things. (So, she has to know a lot of things, with an equal lack of depth, is it?)
  21. The adults / teachers are not responsive. I tried to contact them, but their cellphones are switched off. (May be the teacher was actually spending time in the class environment as opposed to being accessible to you on a 24×7 basis? What audacity! My sympathies are with you.)
  22. My child says, he does not like the school, and that adults are abusive, fellow students bully, and the toilets are not clean! O tempora, O mores! (Madam, the child says what you want to hear. You try to spend sometime at school observing and come to your own and your child’s conclusions)
  23. And, there is this cross-eyed male teacher who always looks shabby with unkempt hair growth all over. He does not wear coordinated dress. Look at him, he is supposed to have retired prematurely, no, immaturely, from the IT industry and is working in the school, can you believe it? Am sure he is a failure and a dropout fringe element. And, I know that he is a drug addict and may be has AIDS too. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any of my children to get exposed to this wreck! (you may be correct about him, ma’am, but he is not a representative sample of the adults in school. The other teachers are actually good.)

As I said elsewhere, there are perceived issues (and non-issues) in every and any school. I think NammaShaale (insert your current school’s name, for that matter) has been fair and reasonable in addressing the genuine concerns of the parents – most of us know it. If you want to solve or pitch in, be a part of it. If you don’t want to contribute, you can whine or better, stop unnecessarily worrying –  if you want to get out, please get out. It is your life.

But, I sincerely think that the paranoid parents should take decisive action, check out the truth, weigh the situation realistically, think logically, ditch emotional/sentimental bullexcreta and move their ponderous posteriors, in whatever direction that they want to! It is a matter of your children, dammit. Don’t we parents all hallucinate that whatever we do, we do is in the best interests of our children?

Now, if you would excuse me, I gotta go check whether ‘Royal Mysore InterGalactic Boeing school’ is issuing application forms for new admissions; you know, you have to sleep near the gate tonight so that you will have a chance to get the app form tomorrow morning… They are in the IB league, you know, not even your silly IGCSE. grrrr

Spouse! Where in the hell are my raincoat and sleeping bag? What?? I forgot to bring them back when I went for my night-out at the HairyheadLose School this time last year?? @#$%$ Do I have to go to Kuberan School also today? Oh NO.

Again: A Rosicrucian master’s take on the prime way of life: ‘To love where I am, love who I am with, and love what I am doing’

Comments welcome – but not on phone. No sir. Illa ma’am. Don’t worry. I won’t publish your name.

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Comments

  • Uma Naren  On November 27, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Hi Ramjee,

    I am laughing outloud or call it ‘roaring with laughter’ as if I’m reading a series of Sardarji Jokes!! God!! You do need this ‘sense of humor’ to keep you live/alive and going. Mysore Royal intergalactic and my child’s undie is soiled is ‘ultimate’.

    I am a Parent Co-ordinator in a Montessori School and I kind of live and go throught these moments too.

    Your posts are worth reading! Why I am I reading your posts?? Well, I got the time and I’m also one of those anxious parents looking for an alternative school. So much so that I am planning to relocate to any city which has a ‘PURE ELEMENTARY(MONTESSORI) SCHOOL’.

    Plus, your posts are no-nonsense ones!!

    Cheers.

  • Brinda  On November 30, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Hi Ramjee

    Very very entertaining, this should last me a week LOL – I hope every parent has used the opportunity !!

    Keep writing – keeps away the wrinkles :))(at least slows the process )

    Cheers !!

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