Judging Synapse or how I learned to stop worrying and love the kids

Synapse is a school-level competition organised by the Sornammal Education Trust at its school in Aynavaram. Last week, I was invited to judge the essay competition for sixth, seventh and eighth standard students. The topic that the students wrote on was “How would you change the school syllabus if you were the education minister of the state”.

I could bore you with details of how well I judged the competition, but what was interesting was the level of political knowledge these children had. I doubt if I had picked up the newspaper habit when I was 11 or 12 years old. But these kids knew every single issue that was discussed in the media. For example, almost all of them – there were 30 or so – wrote that they wanted lighter schoolbags, an issue that has been highlighted in the media repeatedly.

Another aspect was how many of them wrote their essays like a political speech. The rhetoric was of a politician, not of a student. It was amazing how easily they had slipped into those shoes. The leader who was most often quoted was Kalam closely followed by Thiruvalluvar.

Some of the other popular demands: Larger playgrounds, stress on practical knowledge and life skills, scrapping of the learning by rote system, a lighter syllabus that gives time to pursue sports and hobbies, learning how to use the computer, no grades or marks, etc.

When they demanded they be not given marks for exams, they wrote about how students who performed badly suffered. It was not written by a student who didn’t want marks because he or she got into trouble because they constantly did badly in class. It was a voice of a student who wanted a better system as this one was simply no good.

I was also amazed by the how good their handwriting was and how much effort they had put in making the essay look good. The awards ceremony was soon after and as the kids piled into a class I was shocked to see how small they looked. They looked like they were from middle class or even poor backgrounds, not from elite schools. Even before the prizes were announced I knew who had won the first prize. This girl sitting on the second row looked so anxious that I am sure she would have been traumatised if she hadn’t made it.

Often you hear that the younger generation in India doesn’t care about society or the country. Well, you tell me that now and I can give you an argument.

Comments are closed.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.