student – teacher ratio! *argh!*

01/06/2014

Ha Ha! Sorry. I actually wanted to title the post ‘Fathers-children ratio’ or ‘Mothers-children ratio’ – or to avoid any possible controversy, ‘parents-child ratio.’ But, sanity prevailed on me, obviously.

This is one of the really cutesy questions people (not all folks, but the urban types) rather habitually ask, when they are seeking admission for their wards into any school. And, of course, on the face of it, it sounds like a very normal,  anxious  question, but…

I will tell you why.

The assumption behind this duh question is, a ‘good’ ratio of  say, 10:1 (or less) would automatically ensure that their ward would get individual attention, their child would be personally addressed with respect to its unique abilities and ‘weaknesses,’ the child will have all round growth and would ace in all competitive exams eventually and get into some nondescript IIT and then land a software pogromer’s job in some silly IT services company, neighbor’s (and relatives’) envy, owner’s pride and all that!

On the contrary, a ratio of say, 20:1 (or above) would automatically mean that the school is desperate for resources (funds, teachers and what not!) and/or the children do not get individual attention at all, the classes will be chaotic, the development of multifarious capabilities of your child would be stunted and so he will merely graduate from some nondescript IIT and then land a software programmer’s  job eventually, in some silly IT services company, oh the horror, the horror!

The reason behind the parents’ desperation to get an idea of this darn ratio is, I believe, many parents (or for that matter most adults)  could not grapple with anything that cannot be assigned a number or a token – this is irrespective of the gazillion learning theories, pedagogical philosophies that abound.

Also, since most of them do not have any idea whatsoever about the rather complicated stuff like whether they want their children to be happy, peaceful, self directed, contended etc etc, this ratio gives them a number with which ‘competing’ schools could be graded and arranged in an order of desirability – so, they find it important to get the ratio right for their children.

… If only life were such a mere number based magic!

No point in telling them that this ratio is immaterial and that it at best is, a rather stupid way to look at assessing the suitability of a given school. Bad teacher-student ratio need not be bad. Good teacher-student ratio need not be good.

There is NO evidence in any canonical research or in empirical studies about the effect of these kinds of ratios on the children one way or the other… Yes!

No point in even trying to tell them these, of course.

No point in telling them that, even in a primary environment (with children in the age group of 2-5 to 6 years), given the pedagogic material and structured presentations that are given to children in a typical and good Montessori school, that would aid and abet the intellectual development of the children – a class (‘environment’ in Montessoriese) strength of 30 can be very easily managed by a single adult – and this single adult will be able to handle all subjects excepting the second languages – AND  pay individual attention to each of the children! And, the children would also be happy and perhaps would eventually make great citizens, full of kindness, love, self-directedness, skills and what not. (However, the student – teacher ratio is bad in any good Montessori school. So sad!)

No point in telling them that, irrespective and in spite of their individual backgrounds,  all  children are endowed with the same kinds of multifarious potentials and that what really matters in the context of providing a fulfilling future for them — is a set of attributes that involves: Clueful schools (=bite-sized & networked), Clueful teaching adults (=passionate, skilful & hard-working)  and Clueful parents (=sufficiently invested in their children & not necessarily literate); no point again in telling them that – the children will then  take care of themselves. Look ma, no tricks.

So, my (unsolicited, of course) advice to those overworked-up and clueless, ratio hunting parents would be: Please go to some other school dammit, in the highest position in the pecking order of your ratio rated schools list.

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To look at it again, perhaps the schools should in turn, ask for the parents-child ratio, better still, fathers-child ratio from such parents. You know why? Of course, these parents will be offended & scandalized by the innuendo that there could be many contending fathers for a given child!

“What the hell!! What are you hinting at? Do we have loose morals? What audacity! What ethics? Are you telling us that, our child is a ….??”

Relax. No offence meant. Your child is not a bastard. Even if it were so, it does not reflect in anyway, on the essential beauty & integrity of the child.

Well, cool it, dear ratio-crunching sirs and panicking madams – the schools also want to go by a good parents-children ratio. That’s all.

Seriously now, I would think that, mostly,  these parents create their children by pure biological accidents – and they don’t probably want to go thru’ the tedious process of bringing up their children – in a happy and contended way, that is; they merely want some quick solutions and numbers.

Hence, I would strongly recommend a heavy mix of polygamy + polyandry for these parents, so that the child will have a reasonable  chance to be normal – as at least one of these fathers or mothers is likely to be clueful, for a given value of reasonable cluefulness.

Those who live by the ratios, die by the ratios, what else!

Amen.

//a 2009 journal entry.

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