Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Exploring the Indian Education System

My mom's a teacher so I spent my childhood in 12 different schools, tasting a variety of education systems from nursery to high school. I've tried everything from Convent school to alternative education - was even home schooled for a while. Of course, it wasn't planned that way but I think this adventure has made me a more open and perceptive human being. 

I have been in a class of 3 and a class of 53, a class on a tea estate in Ooty and a class on top of the hills in Sahyadri. I've been in schools where we sang bhajans at assembly and others where we sang hymns. I've studied with children of well-to-do Mumbaikars and children of poor tea pickers. I've had teachers that believed in corporal punishment and teachers that believed in open book tests. The one thing I've learnt from all of them is that you can excel at anything you put my mind to and whether you top the class or fail math by 1 mark, the most important thing is to be an honest person. 

My mom says she experimented with us as kids, putting us through different experiences to mould us into better human beings. Every school taught us something different whether it was learning braille or sign language, learning Kannada or Esperanto, we were always encouraged to give it our best. When I started at the convent school at the age of 13, 'normal' was an overrated word. I had no idea how average I was, 'cos I was always treated as a unique individual. Even after I completed high school, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was special and different from everybody else.

Today, when I read stories about inspiring people, I feel small and unaccomplished. I sometimes feel like I'm not living my dream. I often say I want to travel the world and explore new places and people and food and cultures. But the truth is I could die a happy girl just knowing I inspired someone, anyone.

Currently, I volunteer part-time for an NGO that's involved in educating underprivileged children and I look forward to having a child of my own one day to experience how the education system has evolved since I was a kid. I know what it's like to be brought up by someone who refused to settle for second best and I'm grateful that she inspired me to be my own person and follow my own path, wherever that may lead. 

Ultimately, everything that you explore teaches you something about yourself and my experience has taught me that there's always more to explore. 

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