Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Overlooked Problem

When we hired the ‘van man’ to drop me home every evening from school, I never imagined that the situation would present some delicate complications. The ‘van man’ picked up kids from all kinds of schools—and, waiting period for this gentlemen, Mr. Someshekar being long, the footpath would be crowded with all sorts of stranded looking children. It was a mass confluence which presented diversity in the sorts of kids you would come across, which itself was the problem. You see, all of us would inevitably interact, and, by then, we were old enough to have mastered the crude ability to judge the other person and analyze situations.
It would have been well if we were from the same school, or from the same syllabus. But you see, we were ICSE and they were state-board…which made all the difference.

Ah…so you have understood. Or maybe you haven’t? Let me explain. We were taught from the beginning that the syllabus we were studying was highest in the country. That felt like Cinderella going to the ball. Although the teacher intended it to be a bitter truth that was to shock the young minds, we took it all optimistically. “Of course, we will be brainier”. This awareness, or perhaps, the illusions, lead to misinterpretations. We were over-confident, held our heads high, and never considered falling to the level of the ‘staties’ (the nickname). We believed that our syllabus was tougher, and hence we were obviously brainier than the state-board students.
We were unfriendly, and scorned at those people. We refused to accept State-board students to be equal, intelligent and talented.

I remember when a state-board girl had once said, “There is too many mud in my shoes, ya!”, my friend had sniggered and whispered, “All these state board people don’t know how to talk.” Generally, the ICSE and the CBSE students were recognized to be hostile and indifferent at school gatherings—we never mingled and had those strange attitude problems which are difficult to explain. Of course, I never considered myself being anywhere above the state board students, seeing we shared similar perspectives. More than that, I did not believe it was my authority to judge a person on marks, but sadly, most ICSE students still refuse to think like this. It feels good to consider yourself superior, and they cling to the illusion. They do not like to be associated with the state-board students, in fact, they stay away from each other even, forming different unfriendly groups.
When a state-board student, who had secured 94% in state-board tenth examinations got 96% in first PU, one girl had remarked with evident surprise, “But how is that possible? Only a CBSE student is supposed to get marks like that!”Even in the first trigonometry class in college, every ICSE student was ready to blurt out answers even before the teacher said anything, simply trying to announce that they already were aware of the syllabus. The first thing the teacher said upon entering the class is “I want every ICSE and CBSE student to shut up, and listen only!”

This behavior of the ICSE and CBSE students becomes noticeable when you come to college. Once again, this is the place where students from all syllabi come together to form a class. People hunt out for ‘CBSE’ friends only. You’re godly if you’re from the central or the Indian board, or else, you’re inferior. It’s a negative impact on the minds of the state-board students who are already warned that the PU syllabus is too difficult for them to handle. I think, this is one of the overlooked issues of academic life—teachers don’t talk about this issue often. I agree, and I’ve written this in my previous post too, the state board curriculum needs improvement, but it does not mean other students have the right to discriminate. Haven’t we all been taught in school that everyone is equal, no matter anything? As a student, I think it is wrong to discriminate on the basis of what school or syllabus you come from. State-board students are ignored, discriminated, and forced to feel inferior. The major problem arising in children is still this horrible complex. It continues even today. Only something like a miracle can change the way we think. Childhood is no longer supported by the reigns of innocence, instead, in the fiercely competitive world, children are adapting to learn to discriminate in terms of marks, and I think, the horses are heading the wrong way, destructing the nature of the purer heads, and finally, we end up not understanding what true equality feels like with our unbalanced and biased minds.


Praveen G K said...

I know what you are saying. It was the same problem when I was studying too. But, thankfully, I had a lot of good friends who were in the state board, and they were absolutely brilliant. It's an irony, but I am actually more in touch with my state board friends than the so called "brainy" studs of ICSE :-)

Yeah this problem is universal. I have discussed this issue with friends of other schools, and I am sad to know, that things haven't changed at all.

Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

I agree with that. Even I hardly have contact with some of my ICSE friends. Most of them choose to continue in the Indian syllabus, thinking shifting to state now would be bad. But I would like to say the state board students are far more sociable and friendly. They don;t have these weird complexes. I can say I have more freinds now than I did in school. And I sure am enjoying this!

narendra shenoy said...

Hey, this is bringing back my childhood to me! When I went to study engineering (I was a state board guy, of course) the snoots refused to speak to me in English, because coupled with my state board education, I came from Malad, a suburb known for being the armpit of Mumbai, where buffaloes outnumbered humans 3 to 1.

Over a period of time, they kind of conceded that I belonged to the same species but after that, I could have wished for no better friends. I saw what good people they were, despite a superficial tendency to assume superiority, which dimished with age and finally vanished.

I later generalized this as human nature. We seize every opportunity to assert our superiority over others, in whatever area, no matter how silly. It is only when we mature as human beings that we see how futile (and often cruel) that is. Some of us see this early in life. Some never at all.

Kadalabal said...

I appreciate your very frank comments on behaviour of CBSE/ICSE students yes certainly they are better placed because of their sylaabi in high school. but they should not have a complex and stay away from state board they should make their extra advantage to pass on and held them and if there are 60 or 100 in a class all are II puc students of state board if they are so fond of their ICSE/CBSE they should contiune + two there why they are coming here? yes they know they have great advantage here and they want to cash it. that's fine but be considerte to our fellow students who are weak and give them support
great views lakshmi I really appreciate your unbiased post