Monday, October 11, 2010

School Days: A Definite Pass

   Hey World,
             Gone are those days of uniformed lifestyle where punishment was the order of the day and marks were the reference for the earth to go round the sun. My school days are still fresh in my memory. Although I did not go to a military school, I would compare the school days I had with any state-of-the-art military training. The obvious reason I have is that it was during the school days, I went through systematic routines that trained my body and mind(I have no clue for what). If there is something that has made a deep impact on what I am personally, apart from the influences of my family and friends, then it is my school days.

              To understand how far schooling has influenced my personality, it is important to understand the schooling I went through. I wish to categorize the fundamental elements of school education that I went through in the following manner:

1) Intelligence
             Training the brain was considered primary (I am not sure about now but back in the day it was). From what I was told, some of the best brains in the history of mankind dedicated their lifetime to create the best ever educational procedures that were later inducted into the school educational system. Those were special tailor-made routines, each employing a special instructing tool. Those glorious tools were:

          • Class-Work Notebook                                                
          • Home-Work Notebook
          • Assignment Notebook
          • Test Notebook
          • Test Pad
          • Holiday Home-Work Notebook
          • Work-Book
              Each subject that I studied required me to have this exquisite, neatly covered set of notebooks for the routines. Except for the Holiday HW-Notebook (that was specially designed for holiday training), I had to carry all the rest of them on all working days to school. With Maths, Science, English, Hindi and Social Studies to study every year, the weight of the school bag I carried for most part of my school life weighed at least 4 times that of the total equipment carried by an army soldier in the line of duty. Please note that I am not including textbooks here because they, for most part of my schooling were declared "not-sufficient."
             This is what I had to do with the notebooks. The teacher would spend a lion's share of the class time writing "Questions and Answers" on the black-board and I had to write them down into my Class-Work notebook without asking questions(The world would end if I don't write in a good handwriting!!!). Every time I failed to do so , I would end up with blank space in my Class-Work notebook (the teacher would write like Schumacher driving his race-car and my humanly writing speed never crossed that of a handicapped tortoise). History has it that I never went beyond the first 20 pages of any Class-Work notebook I have ever owned. By the end of the class, the teacher would declare the remainder of the "Questions and Answers" ( the crazy stuff at the end of each chapter!!!) as the "Home-Work" and I would have to write them down into my Home-Work notebook and have it ready by the next class.
             The Class-Work and Home-Work notebooks were the basis for any test we would have but beware!!!  twisted questions can show up and to tackle those brain-squeezers I need to have my "Assignment" work up to date!!! This is where I had to use the Assignment notebook, which for some unearthly reason always ended up having the same freakin stuff that would be in the Classwork and Homework notebooks. The Test Notebook was a special D-day device, which was used only on unit-test days. The Test-Pad was a big scribbling pad from which I would tear out the sheets to be used in the mind-crunching mid-term exams, roller coaster quarterly exams and the humbling half-yearly exams. The Work-Book was definitely a masterpiece. It had a pre-designed format where I just had to fill in the answers...the same ones as in the other notebooks.
             I would never question these impeccable learning tools I had the forced-privilege to use in school. The only intelligence I believe I gained was by questioning the reason for so much of monotonous re-writing I had to go through. I did the best I can to understand all the writing work that was thrust into my life but I failed every time. I asked my teachers and the responses were both verbal as well as physical.

2) Physical

             The need for a healthy body was always preached in school and the doctrine of physical fitness involved reducing the number PT-classes, converting PT-classes into subject classes, denying the students a fair chance to play soccer since they failed in History and so on. In spite of the discretionary policies, the school educational system had a strong, value-based, culturally diverse physical fitness program which empowered the teachers to employ a multitude of physical fitness routines irrespective of what subjects they taught, which I think is classic. These routines demanded the teacher to be as creative as possible and in turn inculcate the same creativity into their students. It is to be noted that the law of the land classifies these routines as corporal punishment but why bother. The program had the following routines:

                                             Core-Skeletal/Muscular Development
          • Murgi (Squat with hands holding ears from behind the knee)
          • Roman Chair
          • Stand-Up on the Bench
          • Stand-Up + Hands-Up
          • Kneel down
          • Kneel Down + Hands Up
                                             Stamina/Internal Energy/Immunity
          • 1 ft Wooden Scale Freestyle
          • 1 ft Wooden Scale Knuckle-Cuts
          • 1 ft Metal Scale Freestyle
          • 1 ft Metal Scale Knuckle-Cuts
          • 1 m Wooden Scale Samurai Slash
          • PVC Pipe Freestyle (My favorite)
          • PVC Pipe Butt-Blaster
          • Ear-Twist 
          • Side-Burn Pull-Out
          • Flying Dusters of Babylon
          • Hair-Grab Yo-Yo
          • Slap/Thrash Forehand
          • Slap/Thrash Backhand
             The above mentioned are just some of the generic and widely used routines to help students learn subjects in school. The actual catalog is so big, it will easily beat Google's increasing inbox-space of all accounts put together. Please note that these routines can be administered both inside and outside class. One can never underestimate the creativity of the angry teacher. I always loved the freestyle routines for those were more challenging simply because I had to figure out which part of my body is the teacher aiming at (I don't have all day to guess...please note that). To the best of my knowledge, I learned more lessons through these routines than from the textbook and these routines have never ever affected my life in anyway. In fact millions of students across the nation (I come from India) were learning fantastic science and intriguing math through these methods. School administrations were famous for appointing teachers who held exceptional credentials in the physical fitness routines listed above. It was all about the discipline, for the rest of the universe mysteriously revolved around it.
           I never asked my parents to visit me in my school because every time my parents came to my school, they saw me go through one of the fitness routines listed above. My parents never realized that these were "Routines" and so I had to go through them on a daily basis. Life was beautiful. It was nothing less than heaven to spend the afternoon session of the day, kneeling inside the principal's office for failing in exams. I loved the way my teachers handled my face whenever I questioned their instructions.

          I went through a systematic procedural schooling that has taught me a lot, for most part, what not to do. I take this opportunity to pay my respects to all my fellow comrades (and the entire student community) who stood and knelt next to me through the times of terror, confusion and comedy. I still know a lot of them as my best friends. I can't imagine what would have happened to me if those brave men were not there by my side to help me understand that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I shared all the happy moments of my school days with my comrades and I am greatly indebted to the fantastic humor they created every time the teacher was slashing their bodies. Being outstanding in school is good but standing out in school is cool and funny. My school days will remain in my memory forever for this very reason.  ;) 

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Signing off,

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