Saturday, February 13, 2010

Attending Parent Teacher's Meeting

I'm not a big fan of parent teacher's meeting, for I have nothing much to communicate to the teacher.  And my son isn't of the same kind as his illustrious uncles who had their parents visit the school more often.  The usual conversation would be: 

Teacher: He is a nice boy, he needs to improve on ...
I: Thank you.  Does he interact with his classmates and teachers well?
Teacher: Yes He is very obedient and polite.
I: Thank you.

The meeting would end there after I sign to log my attendance.  Most fathers I get to see have a similar conversation.  Mothers have longer, at times irritating conversations.  Since the teacher happens to belong to the same gender, she continues to answer politely.  I can't imagine how a male teacher would handle conversations with mom after mom.  Must be a tough job!

I had a meeting today.  I knew the teacher already.  A distant relation.  So, I had one extra line to speak - "How are you?".  Before signing off, I thanked her and her co-workers for their contribution in creating interest in science among the students.  The mom, the next one in line pitched in and said - "The class is competitive".   I couldn't see the correlation between good teaching and competition.  To cut short any possible long conversation, I said, "I really do not care about competition, I just want learning to happen and it does.  I'm fine."  I got up to leave.  The mom wouldn't let it go. She continued, "But competition is good, it helps the kids be successful in their lives".  

I hate to stereo-type moms like that, but this one is a serious stereo type.  A success for her would mean, her  son / daughter's entry to IIT, the next best one would be to the second line of colleges BITS, NITS etc.  A bonus would be an entry in to IIM.  Their life time goal is done when the kid gets his/her campus placement in CTS and boards the flight to US.  I would compare them to the owners of clumsy little cars navigating through the traffic in Chennai.  Speed up, cut a few others, break a few rules here and there, bribe the cop - all for just staying ahead by a couple of hundred meters.  In the absence of so-called "competition", the kids would just be fine, some of them would be a bit slow, but all of them will have comfortable lives, thanks to the society and a good education.  

By introducing competition, they lose the fun in observing the kid having his own personality.  The kid could be a commie, an atheist, a yogi or a naturalist, painter, philosopher, scientist and what not. 

I said, "... as long as they love their lives, that's enough for me.." and walked away.