Thursday, July 28, 2011

A happy ending- Schooling and beyond

Tuesday, my son joined the IIT, Chennai. It was a satisfying moment for us. The new batch size was around 800 odd students. The students were from all over the country, with arrivals from Andhra Pradesh perhaps being the single largest chunk. Being the first day of ‘orientation’, almost all the children were accompanied by one or both parents.
I noticed something interesting. Almost without exception, every parent seemed to be from a modest middle class background. The cars in the parking lot of IIT were few (perhaps local Chennai crowd) and most had come by train to Chennai and then by autorickshaw / call taxi to IIT. For 800 odd families, there were less than a 100 cars!
My mind went back to the day my children were admitted at Bombay Scottish School. I felt like a fish out of water. Almost every parent was from the upper echelons of society, working in a foreign bank or a multinational company or a businessman or a rich politician. There was no ‘smell’ of ‘middle class’ and I felt oddly out of place. Most of the parent crowd seemed to know / recognise each other. I was perhaps sticking out like a sore thumb.
A school like Bombay Scottish attracts the rich and famous and merit is not a driver. The parents of the children who study at Bombay Scottish have already ‘made it’. The children here will probably end up going to colleges abroad and life has already been set up for them. A place like IIT attracts the best of talent. And it those students who get admitted to the IIT are going to ‘make it’. Their parents have perhaps struggled with life and sacrificed a lot to get their kids through the grind. They have shifted all their dreams to their children.

Am I making a 'sweeping' conclusion? I see this rich school poor school syndrome happening again and again. My children left Bombay Scottish in 1999 and the last ten years happened in Chennai. They went to a school names PS Senior Secondary School and my son shifted to a school called Padma Seshadri in 11th standard. The reason for the shift was that the earlier school hated students going to any classes for so called 'entrance' exams. My daughter finished her schooling at PS Senior and is currently doing her Law at ILS Law College Pune. She again had a choice of going to one of the National Law Schools, but opted for ILS Pune.

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