In my fifth post E for Examination Expectations, I wrote about a certain school following a ridiculous assessment methodology. That post had details about the final steps of the evaluation process while the first step of a Group Discussion involving the parents and decision-making authorities of the school follows here.
In his tenure of being a medical student and then working as a Doctor in various cities, Sr. T had never even heard of the concept of Group Discussion or GD, as we prefer to call it. As a B-school student, I had been part of this terrifying process twice in my life. The first time that I was a part of a GD group was to get through ta B-school and the second time happened as part of the campus recruitment selection process by a certain organization. This school was the only one who spoke of a GD and our curiosity to see how crazy things could get landed us in the school on the date of interaction.
On the scheduled day of the interview, there were a bunch of parents with their respective kids sitting in a posh air-conditioned conference room waiting for their turn. Post verification of the documents, a group of five parents and their kids were asked to walk inside a meeting room that had the Head of the institution and a child counselor already waiting for us.
The Head welcomed the kids with a toffee each wherein she expected every child to say ‘Thank You’ after taking the toffee (later she claimed to be checking the social skills of the child). After the initial formality of introducing ourselves, she threw the forum open for discussing the old and new parenting practices. Sr. T had a wide grin on his face as he looked at me. All through my student life, I had been the kind who raised her hand first in response to a teachers question. Also, I happen to be quite an opinionated person. He knew that I was raving to go at this topic. Little did I know that the group composed of someone who was more enthusiastic than me.
This particular father didn’t even waste a minute before taking the plunge and define his idea of how technology had helped in the evolution of parenting practices. In no time, he was snubbed by the Head about technology being responsible for parents spending less time with children. This was an unexpected turn of events because the school boasted of its technological advancements. It led me to believe that this was a lady who believed in traditional methods of parenting and teaching but the pay package offered by the new age school had probably been too lucrative for her to refuse. The conflict in her thoughts and actions was too evident.
I took it upon next to speak about a balanced approach in parenting practices by taking the best from both traditions and technology. The lady sitting next to me had come alone for this interaction as her husband was on duty, working in the merchant navy. Her contribution to the discussion was the words ‘Yes I agree’ to anything that was anybody said. It didn’t matter if the views were contradictory. She had decided to agree to all.
Beside her, sat another lady who worked as a State Government employee. She made it clear about communicating in Bengali only because she was proud of her mother tongue(she said it!). It made me wonder why she wasn’t seeking admissions in the State board schools only instead of wasting her time at a CBSE Board English medium school. As she gave us lessons about traditions and principles in raising a child, I wondered if I was a student sitting in a moral science class. She refused to let her husband speak a word.
The next set of parents were a Hindi speaking Businessman father and a homemaker mother. The father was too preoccupied for this GD. He had been busy on his iPhone all through and the mother barely said, ‘A mix of parenting is good’ before moving on to adjust her Prada Tote bag on the table. The message was clear – they were wealthy enough to get the kid admitted here with or without the interaction.
The last set of parents consisted of a father who seemed to be on the border of getting an anxiety attack anytime. Out of severe tension, he almost choked while trying to convey about his upbringing in a small town and how he grew up amidst his grandparents in broken English. The worried mother kept looking at her husband hoping that they would survive this GD and she didn’t get an opportunity to speak.
Sr. T had keenly been observing the unfolding of drama until then. Realizing that the end was drawing near, he raised the first finger of his right-hand to seek permission to speak (not kidding about this pretense!). The Head who was well aware of Sr. T’s profession immediately said ‘Yes Sir, please go ahead!’ He was the only one who was addressed as Sir while for the rest of us, it was just the usual ‘Yes please.’
For the next five minutes, we had an uninterrupted session from Sr. T about the bonds that teachers shared with their students in the eighties and nineties because of traditional parenting practices. The number of nods that he got from the Head surpassed my ability to even keep a count. She kept saying, ‘Yes’, ‘Absolutely’, ‘You are so right.’ while secretly wondering if she should offer him a job on the spot (the latter part is a fabrication of my thoughts!). The GD ended because for the Head, Sr. T had already made the points that she wanted to hear.
During this process, the five kids whose future was getting decided went around enjoying the freedom. Tuneer, by nature a shy and soft-spoken kid was seated on his chair for a while to finish his Eclairs. After that, he also walked around trying to explore the room while the adults battled it out on the table. After the GD was over, we got up to leave the room and take him to the interview room next. It was at this moment that I saw his hands holding four toffees.
Looking at my startled face, Tuneer explained that he was had managed to locate the bowl of toffees on the table beside the counselor while playing with the chairs in that portion of the room. He had decidedly walked up to the table, taken two toffees and politely said ‘Thank You’ to the psychologist who had been too busy observing the discussion instead of hearing him. He had repeated the step once again realizing that his left hand was still empty and could hold two toffees in it. When we walked out of that room, an embarrassed me had Sr. T smiling from ‘ear to ear’ on my left and Jr. T grabbing a hand full of chocolates on my right. Both seemed to have had the most fun in this supposedly ‘serious’ discussion.
I hope you had a great time reading this post. Stay tuned as I come back with a post on H tomorrow. In the meanwhile, you can read my previous posts in these series here.