15th, Feb 2022
School is a second home to a child, the things they learn there shape their minds, set them for success as a person and inspire in them a drive to do well in life. A boarding school also known as a residential school is an institution where children have to live within the campus while following a certain set of rules. Children in these schools, study and live during the year with their fellow students and teachers among other administrators and only visit their homes at festivals or during holidays. In such a setup, a teacher is not only a mentor, a role model or an icon but most importantly they play the role of a parent.
Pankaj Sudan is the founder of the Plenum School, a residential school in Himachal Pradesh. An alumnus of Moti Lal Nehru School od Sports, Rai; coming from a boarding school himself Sudan has great knowledge about the morals and needs of the children living in such a set-up. He has been a civil servant, worked in the private sector and now running his own school.
The Holistic Lifestyle of Teachers
A teacher is not only a mentor, a role model or an icon but most importantly they play the role of a parent. These teachers live with the kids, spending more time with them than their families. This indeed has a serious impact on a child's mind and life. They are the building blocks of a child’s personality. Sudan shared his own experience saying, “I remember when I was a child, one of my teachers used to have curly hair that looked as if he has barely combed them and I used to try and mimic how he did his hair so I could look just like him.” Teachers need to have an exceptional skill set where they have to be good as both a mentor and guardian, finding this right mix is what makes them different from other teachers at the day school.
The most important quality needed in educators is their attitude towards all people on campus. They need to set an example for adolescents through their behaviour. Additionally, the teacher should keep an open-minded when students come to them for advice, they need to be team players and provide an equal opportunity. Most importantly, teachers need to have a love for teaching along with intellectual curiosity and the willingness to always learn more.
Overall, teachers are more engaged with students, from wake up call at 6 AM in the morning, followed by going out with children, to teaching, learning until bedtime. Sudan sums it up, “It is a joy, an opportunity, a holistic lifestyle for teachers.”
Cambridge is an international education board that is offered in over ten-thousand schools in more than 160 countries around the globe. Sudan finalised on the Cambridge board, stating “While choosing the board, the main concern that came to him was why not choose a board of education pedagogy which is very important, which is global and thus he chose the Cambridge education.” This model allows students to choose the subjects they want to study unlike other boards in India. This international board provides children with an opportunity to follow their interests.
The international board is accepted in India and worldwide. It equals the other state and national boards of education. Sudan admits, “There are some parts of Cambridge education that are not as highly developed as CBSE, but then there are some parts of the CBSE that are not as highly developed as Cambridge." Nonetheless, this board was in line with Sudan's values and so it became the program implemented in the school.
The No-Uniform Policy
The uniform business came through missionary schools in India. They created classrooms that were all arranged in the same manner, which looked organised but was a factory layout. The same uniform system was also enforced on children. Everyone has to wear a pant, a white shirt, a red tie and a blazer. In a city like Nagpur, during the scorching hot weather, is it necessary to wear a tie? questioned Sudan.
While many may argue that uniforms ensure equality among the students who come from different backgrounds, Sudan points out that, “A child coming from a rich family can wear fancy shoes daily but really that means nothing to his life or other’s life. The child may not be able to run as fast as somebody who’s running barefoot and if there is inequality in the system, we want to expose our children to that and tell them it’s okay. It’s okay to be poor, it’s okay if your parents don’t earn much that’s okay, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Be proud that your parents, even if they are not so well off they are trying to educate you in one of the finest schools.”
Plenum was created to celebrate colour, difference, and the uniqueness of each child. He adds, “There was a philosophical thing that we need to celebrate uniqueness and backgrounds and there was this emotional thing that there is so much colour in our life, that when children come to our school they wear whatever coloured clothes they have and look so nice and pretty. Not only does that add colour to their own self but to the school.” And hence, the no-uniform policy was implemented.
A child carries what they're taught at a young age throughout the remainder of their lives, today's youth will become tomorrow's leaders and teachers play a really vital role in this as they are the ones who have access to teach them in the most impressionable years. They have the power to shape leaders of the future and people who make an impression and have the facility to vary lives. They say the influence of a good teacher can never be erased, and I’d say that indeed is the reason why their profession has so much more value and respect.