I usually don’t write posts in advance for it kills the thrill of writing. Today when I was brainstorming about the topic for my post, I came across a sheet of paper that got me giggling like a kid. It mentioned Assessment format on the top. The first line began as ‘The expectation from this examination is to assess..’ and it went on for about a full page. Can you guess what examination we are talking about here?
Well, a new age school in the city that resembles a corporate house more than an educational institution had handed over this leaflet as part of the nursery admission brochure. The school still doesn’t have any board results to its credit but definitely has huge claims related to facilities and technological advancements. I am all for the holistic development of a child. There’s definitely much more to a child’s’ development than academics only and any school that encourages extra-curricular activities and sports has my support. However, when the same school has ridiculous standards of selection criteria, the hypocrisy gets too prominent.
This particular school had two levels in the selection process – the first part involved a group discussion of parents and the later part was about interviewing the child. The leaflet spoke about the parameters on which a child was to be judged. It spoke about his knowledge of English alphabets, numbers, a couple of rhymes, his social skills, his ability to answer basic questions (glad that they didn’t mention oratory skills already) and his writing. Yes, you read it right! A three-year-old was going to be assessed on his ability to draw lines or a circle and write alphabets by joining the dots.
I re-read this criterion thrice just to make sure that I got it right. This was the only school that had such ridiculous expectations from toddlers in the age group of three to three-and-a-half. At three, his then age, Tuneer had recently learned to hold a pencil and draw a few lines with help from his preschool teacher. That evening I decided to send a picture of this page to my father and father-in-law both. My father-in-law called it an insane and unscientific expectation while my father was glad that at least the school was very clear about being irrational, making our choice of rejecting it easy.
Did we go for the interaction? Yes, we did only for the fun of it. I must say that they didn’t disappoint us in being so weird. While the group discussion experience will come up as a separate post very soon, I can’t stop laughing whenever I think of the interaction experience. Tuneer was taken inside a huge classroom along with five more kids. The parents were asked to wait outside though we could clearly see them through the glass windows. We saw Tuneer speaking with the teacher who was assigned to take his interview. After a few mins, she handed him a pencil and a couple of crayons probably to heck his writing and coloring skills.
My mind started screaming ‘danger’ and I had a strong urge to rush inside and save the situation. My boy loves crayons for the fact that they can be broken into pieces. He and his father both love pressing the crayons with fingers until they shatter into fragments. The teacher was oblivious to the risk that lay ahead of this interaction as I saw Tuneer looking at those two crayons with full attention. The glitter in Sr. T’s eyes at this particular moment deserves a special mention and I realized that this was going to be a lost battle.
Tuneer had already started displaying his skills on the crayons as the teacher went on trying to coax him to not break them. She tried taking them from his hands but by then the boy had successfully broken both crayons into multiple pieces. His face radiated joy and success as he looked up to see the startled face of the teacher. Not the kind to leave things incomplete, he took up the pencil and drew whatever the teacher had earlier asked him to. The interaction was immediately over and Tuneer came out with those fragments of crayons as his prize.
A few days later when I tried talking to him about this incident, the results had already been announced and strangely, he had made it to the list. Sr. T was all praises for his son. According to him, the school had learned a lesson because of our son. “Going forward they will abolish writing as an assessment criterion because of Tuneer.” Of course, that was a father’s blind love for his only son talking making me stick to the decision of not getting him admitted in this school.
I hope this made you chuckle as much I had fun while reminiscing this incident. I will see you tomorrow with a fresh post on F. In the meanwhile, you can read the previous posts in this series here.