Welcome to the new academic year
10 June 2019
This letter has taken some time because of a change in our thinking and approach towards certain aspects of education, particularly focusing on marks and results. While we are extremely happy with the 100% results, and the outstanding academic achievements of our students, we have decided to downplay this as we witness an increasing trend towards an unnecessary focus on Grade 10 exams and marks, and we wish to pause and rewind.
This is not to say we don’t wish to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our hardworking students, but that we would rather celebrate the efforts more than the results.
Because in life, the results may not always be as per our expectation but our efforts must not reduce.
To dispel any rumour about our results IGCSE 2019, we present the highlights:
- 100% result
- 100% scores in Math and Chemistry
- a significantly large proportion of our students in the high 90s
- 100 students out of 132 have scored distinction and above,
with rest scoring 60% and above
We are proud of our students who have overcome the challenges of a tough curriculum that requires them to apply their mind, instead of learning by rote, and have evolved into thinking individuals.
We extend an open-invitation to past PTEC members who are welcome to review our results on behalf of the parents.
This year we hope to focus on a few areas that impact our students and our society.
1. Say NO to Tuitions
An area of particular concern for us is the skewed importance being given to tuition classes across all age groups. We request all parents to pause and ponder whether it is truly fair to the child to study for 6 hours in a school, and then attend tuition classes for two to four hours?
When does the child get the time for self-learning and reflection?
Research has shown that unstructured time contributes significantly to the development of all the faculties in young children. However, with the current trend of over-packing a child’s schedule, children are left with zero unstructured time. How can such a strict schedule ever benefit a young child?
Some parents reason that since both parents are working, there is no one to take up the child’s studies, and tuition class only ensures that the child completes his homework and his revision. If only we could hear ourselves when we say such things, we will become aware of the huge compromise we are making in our child’s learning process. Most tuition classes are nothing but baby-sitting centers. Does true learning ever happen in tuition classes?
Some students who struggle in a subject might need tuition, but that’s a decision that parents need to take jointly in consultation with the School. In some cases, tuition may be required for those who face certain learning disabilities. However, the trend we observe is that even students scoring 75% and above are being sent to tuition classes because the parents believe 75% isn’t enough.
If your child needs to be supervised or engaged while you are at work, it would be better to enroll you child in activities that focus on building the personality of your child. It could be a rigorous sport like football, or a discipline like Indian classical dance that requires continuous efforts for 5 or more years.
Encouraging your child how to learn by himself would be the preparation you could give your child for the future. Children who learn by themselves, not only understand concepts better, but also, have a higher success rate in life.
Please come and talk to us at school as to how you could better engage your child, and prepare your child to become a self-learner instead of depending on tuition.
2. Rain Water Harvesting
Our country as well as our State is witnessing some tough times with regards to the scarcity of water due to a prediction of below-normal rainfall. It is imperative that we as citizens actively implement rain-water harvesting in our societies and communities.
At School, we have our rain water harvesting system which is simple, effective, and not too expensive. We would be glad to showcase our system to parents or volunteer groups who might want to implement similar systems within their residential societies. Do spread the word, and schedule an appointment with our admin team to learn how simple the system is.
We will be showing our teachers and our students the system, and we will schedule visits for past and present PTEC members too.
If we harvest rain-water, we might alleviate to some extent this water challenge facing our State, and contribute to making a better environment.
3. Value Education and Peer Learning
Over the past year, it has been brought to our notice that there appears to be a gap in the value-system with regards to students helping their classmates with study notes and other academic support. Apparently, if a student misses school due to an illness or due to a sports event, it is the parent who approaches the class teacher for a copy of the notes. If secondary school children have to depend on their parents to get them these notes, we have all failed our children in providing basic skills and values.
What kind of children are we raising if we do not inculcate the value of ‘help thy friend, help thy neighbour’?
In our generation, our classmates were our support system outside the classroom, with study notes, last-minute help with a difficult subject, and even with homework help. That helped us build life-long friendships, and helped us fight many challenges happily.
It is sad and surprising that we are depriving our children of such an important aspect of sharing and of an opportunity for peer-learning.
The School is going to actively intervene to implement a peer-learning system, and we look forward to parental support and encouragement of children when they help their peers out. Remember, when one teaches, two learn. And all the good we do, comes back to us as that is the circle of life.
4. Skills-based learning and assessment
To succeed in life, one needs knowledge as well as skills. However, often development of skills is not appreciated by many parents who seek metrics to evaluate the performance of their child.
Whilst proficiency in a language can be assessed through a formative and summative assessment, skills associated with the language that builds personality are more difficult to assess. For example, public speaking skills, presentation skills, debating skills, drama and expression, are skills which aren’t reflected in a student’s mark sheet. Evaluation of these skills is subjective, and it, also, presents a logistics challenge.
We may not be able to immediately bring these into the mark sheet; however, we desire to bring a stronger focus to these areas. We are talking with experts and peers, and we are open to listening to ideas from parents too. We are confident parents will actively encourage their children to imbibe these life-skills.
5. University of Whatsapp
Technology has made our lives easier, and at the same time it has become a potent tool for harassment, stress, and unwarranted gossip.
We request parents to be prudent in the use of Whatsapp, and avoid unnecessary ranting and raving over subjects, marks, timing, tiffins, etc on Whatsapp groups.
The PTEC members in the past year have complained about receiving calls at 11:30pm, 5am, 6:30am, and through the day.
We ask parents to put themselves in the shoes of the person receiving these calls and messages incessantly or at odd hours, and empathise with them before typing out a message or making that call.
A crocodile in your living room would definitely be an emergency, and you wouldn’t need to look at the time to call out for help. But, a book lost, an answer not corrected, a half-mark deducted, or a discipline note in the diary doesn’t require ranting and raving.
If you are concerned and perturbed, sure you have every right to seek an explanation. Do you have a right to demand it at 11pm? NO.
If it is urgent, trust us, everyone will act on it promptly. Follow protocol and courtesy at all times. No one appreciates rudeness.
The School is going to take a strict view on random ranting on Whatsapp which disturbs the peaceful and cordial environment of a school community.
Spreading false rumours or half-truths on hearsay without knowing the full story is prohibited.
6. Just Chill
If your child is unwell, health is a bigger priority than the FA or even the SA. Don’t send an ill child to school, particularly if the child has a contagious disease.
If there is a wedding or a religious function which is more important, and your child needs to go with you, take permission and go have fun. Do not stress the School or your child with requests for a re-exam or a change of exam dates. Life experiences are equally important for your child to have fun memories.
It is important for you to enjoy all the moments of schooling along with your child.
A little bit of courtesy, a little bit of understanding, a little benefit of doubt in certain situations given to the School team, fellow-parents, and other students would make it fun for everyone.
Because that’s our philosophy, Learning has to be fun.
Have a great year ahead.
Dr Hanif Kanjer
Rustomjee Cambridge International School & Junior College