Myself: Funny ? How?
Mrs. M : Like they were asked to write the story of Tom Sawyer from a girl’s perspective.
I was amazed. Wish my third grade teacher had given me such an assignment. I would have given Dan Brown a run for his money. But for a third grader, it seemed steep.
Mrs. M : Or they are given a tragic ending story and told to change the end to a happy one. The question paper is sprinkled with terms like “What do you think about this character?” or “What is your opinion about this story?”
Myself: Hmmm are they now?
Mrs. M : Now tell me are kids of 9-10 supposed to think? About stories and characters. And the English course book is very confusing. There are hardly any questions at the back. They have segregated it into a number of themes, and all poems and stories of a related theme are bunched together.
I was appalled. Now if a ten year old baby sat down to think about characters in a story, when will he do those long maths sums and mug up the science theories? Kids are to be seen not heard as the wise man said, and certainly not opine.
Myself: So what are you doing?
Mrs. M : This exam is over. I am gearing up for the next one.
Myself: But how do you get a child prepared for this? Are there any books? Supplements or guides?
Mrs. M : I am making him rewrite the endings of all the stories he knows. There are no books.
Myself: Talk to the teacher. Perhaps they give coaching.
Mrs. M : Done that. She laughed and said let the child use his imagination. Now tellll….
Myself: That’s terrible. Ok then, let me know if you need any books from here. I will look out for such books. In Delhi maybe you will not find any such nonsense but I have friends in Mumbai and Kolkata.
After I put the phone down, the conversation stayed in my mind. Gosh relocating to another country is tough. Mrs M tells me you don’t get good tinde there. And now this imagination bakwas. It is good such new fangled ideas have not reached our Education Ministry’s minds. Otherwise the children would have hell to pay.