Ready, steady, break the queue
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Ready, steady, break the queue

I stood in the queue wondering why the school couldn’t have sent home the forms. I decided there was a deeper meaning to this chaos than I could understand,writes Shantanu Moitra.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2009 18:07 IST
Shantanu Moitra
Shantanu Moitra
Hindustan Times

A few days ago, I had gone to my son’s school to submit a form specifying his first three choices for extra-curricular activities. Since, it would be on a first-come-first-served basis, I reached an hour early. There were 50 others before me.

I stood in the queue wondering why the school couldn’t have sent home the forms. I decided there was a deeper meaning to this chaos than I could understand. So I stood quietly and watched my son play with the other children. From time to time, he would look at me with a smile on his face, probably amused to see parents standing in a line in school almost as if we were students too.

A gentleman standing next to me introduced himself and told me that other schools were much more organised. Two other parents joined in the school bashing.

School timings were not practical, parking needed to improve, the math teacher was too strict and the Hindi teacher too lenient, the canteen food was the same through the week and needed more variety to prevent children from getting bored etc etc.

My neighbour remembered his school days and turned emotional. He reminisced about teachers who took take pains with their lessons because they loved teaching and not because it was “time pass”. His son had complained that the class teacher had suddenly stopped, mid-way through a lesson, after the bell went.

A parent opined that maybe we parents too were a little too lax with our kids, indulging them with air-conditioned homes, cars and schools. He was contemplating putting his son into a karakul, an ancient form of teaching that emphasised core values.

I was in the queue for an hour and learnt everything there was to know about our education system and why it had failed. I realised how aware and concerned today’s parents were in comparison to my own who could not be bothered about what was happening with my school and me. Call it blind trust in the system or plain lack of interest, it worked out fine for me.

Join the queue
After about 60 minutes, looking around I noticed another hundred parents had joined the now serpentine line. My neighbour announced with conviction,” They will start taking the forms now.” The next few seconds are etched in my mind in slow motion.

The security took off the rope used to keep the queue in check. As the rope fell to the ground, in a 100-metre dash, my neighbor broke the queue and charged towards the counter. Another 100 parents joined him. The children laughed at the chaos.

I stood with a handful of parents wondering about what had just happened. I realised then that the problem lies not with our system but ourselves. We need to look deep inside and analyse our behaviour as parents. Are we good parents? Do we practice what we preach them? If anyone is responsible for the failure of the education system, its us.
(The writer is a music composer)

First Published: Jun 20, 2009 16:49 IST