I am a teacher in an exclusively residential boy’s public school in Delhi. The parents of each of my students pay an annual fee of about Rs 200,000. That’s nothing much compared to the fees charged by international schools in Delhi. Yet that’s quite a lot compared to the annual per capita income of an Indian. So I, as a teacher in such a school, would expect certain standard of behaviour from my students. For example, I would expect that the students want value for the money that their parents are paying (paisa wasool, is that the right phrase?) I would expect my students to gain as much as they can from the classes, from the sprawling playgrounds (which most Delhi schools cannot afford), and from the very routine of a residential school.
What do I, as a teacher, actually see? I see my students trying to bunk off from classes. Ok, you can blame the teacher for not trying to make the classes as interesting as Kapil Sibal’s CCE envisages them to be. I see my students running away from games! I see them running away from co-curricular and extra-curricular activities which are actually supposed to be fun. I see them running away from everything that’s presented as their duty, but which are actually quite fun.
CBSE [Central Board of Secondary Education] introduced certain changes this year in the class XI English. One such change was meant to inculcate a taste for reading among students. I assigned the task to my students. I liberalised (since liberalisation is the accepted policy these days) the task further to make it easier and more interesting for my students. Finally I called them one by one for the viva voce examination which carries 10 marks.
The examination proved that most of the students had not bothered to read the book on which they had to do the project. Even my liberalisation policy which suggested that they could read any book of their choice did not work! Forget the classics suggested by CBSE. My students chose to copy the summary of some book from the internet. Some chose to write about the fairy tale they had studied in class IV or V.
When I persisted with my intention to make them read something, a few of them condescended to say, “Ok, sir, I’ll read a book for the next project.” At least a few were polite enough to make it appear not condescending, thank my stars. And most were honest enough to admit that they had not done what they were supposed to do.
I appreciated their honesty. And I gave them grades generously. Because the viva voce exam was meant to check their spoken English, not their moral values or psychological merits.
The English teachers can produce students who can speak English fluently. The subject teachers can make students pass the entrance exams of IITs or such prestigious institutions. But who will produce values in them? Qualities? And how?
CBSE is introducing questions in every subject to test the moral values of students! I’m not joking. There will be a question in every subject from now on to check the moral values of students.
I’d like to laugh.