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  • Writer's pictureMihir Pathak

Schools should produce good people. How?

Schools should produce good people. How?. I daresay no one really knows the answer. But at least we know something about the subject. We know, and have known from ancient times, the absolutely essential ingredient for moral action; the ingredient without which action is at best amoral, at worst, immoral.

The ingredient is personal responsibility.

All ethical behavior presupposes it. To be ethical you must be capable of choosing a path and accepting full responsibility for the choice, and for the consequences.

Unfortunately, virtually all schools today deny that the students are personally responsible for their acts, even while the leaders of these schools pay lip service to the concept. The denial is threefold: schools do not permit students to choose their course of action fully; they do not permit students to embark on the course, once chosen; and they do not permit students to suffer the consequences of the course, once taken. Freedom of choice, freedom of action, freedom to bear the results of the action – these are the three great freedoms that constitute personal responsibility. – Daniel Greenberg, Sudbury Valley School

At BeMe, children are given these three freedoms. At individual level and at the committee level. Sakha faculty may act as a mirror, as a sounding board for a child, as a reminder service, may hand hold at times, may give pointers at times. But the buck stops with each child.

This week, Prime Minister proposed an agenda on increasing mosquito population being a cause of concern for health issues. Parliament approved the request to keep BeMe closed on Wednesday & Thursday, and take control measures. Prime minister lead the initiative, invited volunteers for taking the required actions. Things were moved to shoo the mosquitoes from their settlement areas. No corner was left unturned. While faculty coordinated the help from BBMP officials, children did the background work needed. Throughout this process, we witnessed leadership and a sense of ownership by children.

Meanwhile, VOOTS committee had to postpone the outstation as the accommodation was not available. The committee had to consider the pros and cons of preponing and postponing. They were questioned on the impact of the change in dates and the inconvenience it may cause on plans of parents. Budgeting is also done. Faculty asked, “What if there are drop outs and cost per head shoots up?” They replied, “We simply inform parents”. They were prompted as to whether we can really operate like this. They seem to understand the challenges and impacts of such changes.

While children exercise their freedom and take responsibility, adults may experience some inconvenience. For example, the postponement of the outstation trip may have disturbed personal plans of parents. We seek cooperation and understanding in these cases from parents. We pass on any feedback on any such inconvenience on to the children.

We do not strive for a perfect environment where everything is defined/planned, actions happen as planned and desired outputs are achieved. Let us have the allowance for our children, while they grapple with real life and find a balance.

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