Written by Vasu Majety
Across the globe, from time immemorial, there has been a practice of sending children away from homes after a certain age. Children used to help their parents in their respective livelihood activities from an early age. As the adage says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” A child used to learn from her immediate family, neighborhood, community and village on a daily basis. The education used to come from observing daily life including various crafts (farming, animal care, pottery, weaving, medicine, jewelry making, carpentry, midwifery and a host of other such crafts). Of late, especially in the last couple of centuries, the village or community began losing its community structure and nuclear families have become more of a norm than an exception. In families where both parents go to work, children are generally left to rear themselves, at least for some time of the day. Children are no longer exposed to what used to be a vibrant intermingling of adults and children of various socio-economic backgrounds. There never used to be a lonely moment in anyone’s life. Modern life has brought more challenges to family structure and the most affected are the children. Children have lost the opportunity to interact with other children and adults of the community. This interaction used to be a vital experiential learning tool in their formative and adolescent years of life. There used to be an easy and peaceful pace of life that used to lead to an unhurried pace of learning.
Children of the modern-day learn about everything life offers at a young age, thanks to a digitally connected world where nothing is private. Today’s parents are struggling to decide between making everything available to their children and risking their getting into wrong ways, or not allowing them to have anything and risking leaving them behind in the race to the top in the material world. Children and teenagers are fastidious and are super energetic in demanding more and more toys from their guilt-ridden parents who, in lieu of the time and energy that they are supposed to give their children, try to compensate for it by allowing their children the luxuries that the children are not ready for physically and mentally such as unlimited access to mobile phones, video games, television, fast food, etc. Luxuries though the toys are, they do not come close to the love and nurturing that they really crave.
The idea of a residential school comes to the rescue in modern times where the rearing of children on a daily basis is delegated to teachers. Children come home during the holidays when they spend quality time with their parents. Other times, children focus on learning during their formative and adolescent years while parents focus on capitalizing on their most productive years.