Usha
Would you say that an overall score of 54% is too bad - bad enough to be expelled from a school? This is exactly what a school has said to the child of a friend. In the 9th standard she has scored 54% and the school wants her out because they do not want any child scoring less than 60% to appear for the board exams. Reason: It will affect the reputation of the school if they do not have a 100% first class result in the board exams.
Now whose fault is it if the child did not score first class marks so far? Is it not as much a comment on the abilities of the teachers at the school if they could not motivate the child to do better in the nine years the child was there? If a school chooses the brightest of children and gets first class results, why do we need a school?
In any case who decides these grades anyway? Is there room in the world only for human beings who can score 60% and above? Is the system so fool proof as to label children’s capabilities ? And for god’s sake, this is just school leaving certificate not a specialization degree. Do they realize the blow this has given to an adoloscent’s self confidence?
And the pity is no one cares. There is a long queue outside the principal’s office for application forms to admit children into the school.
If it is any consolation, we are not alone in this. There is a very illuminating article on this written by John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, 1991. It is called the
“Six-Lesson Schoolteacher” (You can read the whole article at http://www.cantrip.org/gatto.html)

Here are some excerpts:
Teaching means many different things, but six lessons are common to school teaching from Harlem to Hollywood. You pay for these lessons in more ways than you can imagine, so you might as well know what they are:
The first lesson I teach is: "Stay in the class where you belong
The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch.
The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command. Rights may be granted or withheld, by authority, without appeal.
The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study.
In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer's measure of your worth. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged. A monthly report, impressive in its precision, is sent into students' homes to spread approval or to mark exactly -- down to a single percentage point -- how dissatisfied with their children parents should be. Although some people might be surprised how little time or reflection goes into making up these records, the cumulative weight of the objective- seeming documents establishes a profile of defect which compels a child to arrive at a certain decisions about himself and his future based on the casual judgment of strangers.
In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched.

Self-evaluation -- the staple of every major philosophical system that ever appeared on the planet -- is never a factor in these things. The lesson of report cards, grades, and tests is that children should not trust themselves or their parents, but must rely on the evaluation of certified officials. People need to be told what they are worth.
It only takes about 50 contact hours to transmit basic literacy and math skills well enough that kids can be self-teachers from then on. The cry for "basic skills" practice is a smokescreen behind which schools pre-empt the time of children for twelve years and teach them the six lessons I've just taught you
Institutional schoolteachers are destructive to children's development. Nobody survives the Six-Lesson Curriculum unscathed, not even the instructors. The method is deeply and profoundly anti-educational. No tinkering will fix it. In one of the great ironies of human affairs, the massive rethinking that schools require would cost so much less than we are spending now that it is not likely to happen. First and foremost, the business I am in is a jobs project and a contract-letting agency. We cannot afford to save money, not even to help children.
At the pass we've come to historically, and after 26 years of teaching, I must conclude that one of the only alternatives on the horizon for most families is to teach their own children at home. Small, de- institutionalized schools are another. Some form of free-market system for public schooling is the likeliest place to look for answers. But the near impossibility of these things for the shattered families of the poor, and for too many on the fringes of the economic middle class, foretell that the disaster of Six-Lesson Schools is likely to continue.
…the lessons of school prevent children from keeping important appointments with themselves and their families, to learn lessons in self-motivation, perseverance, self-reliance, courage, dignity and love -- and, of course, lessons in service to others, which are among the key lessons of home life.
Thirty years ago these things could still be learned in the time left after school. But television has eaten most of that time, and a combination of television and the stresses peculiar to two-income or single-parent families have swallowed up most of what used to be family time. Our kids have no time left to grow up fully human, and only thin-soil wastelands to do it in.
A future is rushing down upon our culture which will insist that all of us learn the wisdom of non-material experience; this future will demand, as the price of survival, that we follow a pace of natural life economical in material cost. These lessons cannot be learned in schools as they are. School is like starting life with a 12-year jail sentence in which bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.
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