Gone are the days when what made one’s school cool or uncool depended on the grades its students scored or the trophies they won. Times, they have changed. Not that emphasis on performance in curricular and extra-curricular activities has dawdled but temples of learning catering to schoolgoers these days are cashing in on more than just quality education to stand out.
“Textbooks don’t matter anymore. Encouraging practical, hands-on learning, focus of every child, approachable teachers, emphasis on extra-curriculars and incorporating education in every day life is what I consider the coolest things about my school,” says 15-year-old Mayurath Gupta, a student at Sanskriti School. “And obviously, owning fancy gadgets, being in a band, hanging out with popular kids, great communication skills is what is defines being a cool person for kids my age,” he adds.
Agrees Mukund Pandey, a 15-year-old student at Delhi Public School, R K Puram. “In spite of the size of my school and the number of students, special attention is never forsaken. Moreover, there are a lot of activities to choose from. No one gets brandished for being an underperformer. Plus, you are never short of company. We are too many of us,” he says.
Seventeen-year-old Praharsh Joharey at The Shri Ram School, Aravali, says,”One of the good things about our school is that activities are centered around Indian culture. Also, students are trusted with a lot of responsibility.”
Right from choosing the right board, methods of teaching, student-teacher ratio, uniforms and even the quality of food in the canteen, schools these days are constantly evolving to suit the needs of students as well as ward off competition from others. “We have adopted Educomp smart classes for innovative teaching. We also use various computer softwares to enhance students’ creativity and imagination,” says US Verma, Principal, Modern DPS Faridabad.
Having shifted from CBSE and ICSE boards to IB ( International Baccalaureate), the USP of some city schools is the intellectual, personal and social development of their students. “Rather than rote learning we encourage creativity and research in the curriculum to make kids more confident. We have a 25:1 student-teacher ratio and emphasis is on infrastructure and professional deveopment,” says Sudha Goyal, principal, Scottish High in Gurgaon. “There is a lot of emphasis on overall personality development through extracurriculars. Learning on smartborads is fun as visual effects make learning better and interesting,” says Vatsala Baghai, a class 10 student at Millennium School, Noida. “We have a FIITJEE batch, hence no separate coaching is needed. We have workshops for IELTS, TOEFL,” says class 12 student Ishita Jauhar, Mayoor School, Noida.
Though most schools still encourage a uniform style of dressing, there are some which don’t mind going against the diktat. Some students admit being comfortable with following a dress code, but there are some who consider something a little more informal to be ‘cool’. “In winters, instead of blazers, we have sweatshirts,” says Ankita Banerjee of The Shri Ram School, Aravali.