Saturday, October 19, 2013

A universal school will soon vanish if ....

In my days of schooling, we had only one school. That school was meant to help me explore all my abilities - maths, sports, arts, verbal. Everything was offered in one package. This was the era of universal school. If i was not good in academic abilities of maths and verbal, i was labelled as poor student and had to find a way to get my self belief. If i was good in them, i was lucky. Sports and arts were considered as extra curricular activities. If i was good in them, i still had to prove myself.

Now the schools have become slowly and surely into specialised schools. They offer alternative paths of development. Parents can now take advantage of these schools depending on their child's development trajectory !

Sports based school:  Last week, i had gone to a school at a small town near Nashik, which calls itself a sport school. It offers students to explore different type of games starting from a field game like hockey to individual game like tennis. It has sports coaches. Some of the games have been handed over to experts in that field on BO - build and operate - basis such as volleyball.

Although these schools focus on deepening interest in sports, it also offers good academic atmosphere to ensure that the students also do well in academics. 

In this school, 'sports' acts as a motivation engine for students who yearn to display their physical mastery. Once they express well through sports, they are able to gain the 'kernel' of self belief which enables them to work on their academics. Sports enables them to develop their 'character trait' of self regulation ( like we saw in this example) which then helps them grow in academics. ( Remember the talent rule: Developing Talent = Developing Cognitive abilities(CA)+ Developing Character traits(CAT)+ Developing Conative traits(CAT). These schools smartly exploit development trajectory of those students who develop faster through 'sports route', and help these students find their 'self belief' quickly. 

Arts based school: This school helps a student to explore and deepen the growth of artistic interests in dramatics, dancing, music and other performing arts. Although i have not yet seen a school which specialises only in these artistic endeavours, i have seen numerous schools who have huge infrastructure and specialised teachers to help the students explore their 'artistic' interests. 

It is common knowledge that students upto VI and VIIIth class show extra interest in artistic endeavours. If this inherent motivation energy of arts can be tapped at this age, it helps the child to express herself/himself and find self belief. Some students, who have this development trajectory, benefit immensely from this route. By developing character traits through 'arts', they open the path of developing their cognitive abilities later. 

Academics based school: Some students tend to learn a subject, say mathematics, faster than their colleagues. The more they learn mathematics, the more challenges they desire. Please remember that a student is motivated only when 'the challenge is high enough than his current ability'. If the challenge is too high, he gives up. If the challenge is too low, he feels bored.  So, if a student is following a development trajectory, of learning mathematics, it is important for the school to offer increasing challenges in mathematics so that the student's motivation engine and learning engine are synchronised. For some 'academically brilliant' students, this is the right development trajectory. They either learn  mathematics, science, software or other technical domains. These students, who can follow the Ability route to develop, are lucky, because these schools are numerous. A typical universal school however is not useful to them, because this typical school is unable to offer them constantly increasing challenge. It needs an academic focused school to help the student to use his development trajectory. 

Other kind of schools: There are many other kind of schools which focus on different trajectory of development. Some tend to use the 'nature' route by enabling the student to explore nature actively through gardening, trekking and farming. Some are open schools that focus on development of conative traits like 'purpose' through meditation, yoga, dealing with philosophical abstractions. These are Krishnmurthy or Ashram schools. 


Arts, sports and academic schools are not meant to develop the talent of students in arts, sports or academic respectively. That happens later in life. At the school age, these domains are merely the 'zones' that allow a student to come out of his shell and express himself. They act as motivation engines, rather as cognition engines. And while engaging in them, they help the students to develop their important character traits of self regulation, emotional stability and creativity.

Once these character traits start getting formed and crystallized, these specialised schools then enable them to align with the learning of cognitive abilities later. It is a matter of sequencing. While academic schools help the student to learn cognitive abilities first and character traits later, these specialised schools help the student to learn character traits first and cognitive abilities later. Parents can smartly use these schools by choosing a school which aligns with the development trajectory of their child. 

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