Essays on Schooling

Let’s take a break from Loyola and go on a picnic. Let’s read what others have written about their schooling.

Here are two I liked, for different reasons.

  1. “Such, Such Were the Joys” by George Orwell
  2. “My Favorite Teacher” by Thomas L. Friedman

Orwell is an author I’ve enjoyed reading. I loved Animal Farm and often return to “Politics and the English Language”. When I ploughed through his essay attacking St Cyprian’s School, I did not take an instant liking to it. The tone was so negative that I felt I should read Cyril Connolly’s positive recollections of the same school.

But why I list Orwell here is probably because he has done what I have not dared to: he has gone public. Now, you won’t catch me always singing hallelujah to Loyola, but I shy away from presenting (what I feel is) the ugh-liest side. As a blogger, that’s a dilemma I face. If I hear about corruption or paedophilia in a bygone era, should I investigate and if true, publish about it in this blog on Loyola history? Forget the school. Should I publish a story about a Loyolite whose extraordinariness lies in his current misfortune or notoriety? Even when the writer in me wants to probe and publish, the editor in me is too green to weigh the merits and demerits. Maybe I should learn from Orwell who knew his article to be libelous; it was published in the US only after Orwell’s death, and in the UK, even later — after the villains died.

Thomas Friedman’s piece, in contrast, is a feel-good story that will evoke memories of Loyola. It is as American as Orwell’s is British. But that’s not why I bring it to your attention.

For Loyola bloggers, Friedman’s article is an example of how to write a polished recollection of one’s school or teacher. For students in Loyola, it shows the potential of LENS and the need to re-ignite the paper. For the rest, the essay is a steady flight to a higher plane — of gratitude, excellence and responsibility.



  • Hi Ashok,
    Friedman’s article i guess reminds me a bit about Sreenath Sreenivasan’s article on Father John Manipadam in which he tells that though he uses word processing softwares to edit his articles now, the old lessons of Fr. Manipadam still ring true in his year i.e. “Cross your T’s and dot your I’s”. 🙂 Sreenath is the Professor of Journalism at University of Columbia and so i guess his article can be identified even more with that of Friedman’s. Even now i enjoy reading that article of Sreenath considering that it is very concise and is another excellent example of paying tribute to a teacher whom you respect.

    Would George Orwell’s articles be result of some frustration in him? Wikipedia says that Orwell “Was shy and unattractive and in a school with students much richer than him” he felt like a gold fish in a tank of pikes. The article says that Orwell’s sufferings are exaggerated and his sufferings described in the book have gone overboard. It may be true that everyone will have a few bad memories also of school, but the question as in Orwell’s case is ” Are these the only memories”?

  • Yes, Sreenath’s piece was good. On Loyola, we see that kind of writing also in Mahadevan’s piece on Fr Pulickal. The trained journalists stand apart. Incidentally, both Sreenath and Mahadevan wrote those articles for an e-newsletter run by my batch. They were very nice and quick in responding to my request.

    Orwell’s piece reads more like a zeroed-in attack on the schoolmaster and his wife, than on the school. Orwell writes (with concealed pride?) about his own good performance. Writing at that age, he would’ve known that his achievements were possible because of teachers, classmates, and the school, and not just because of his own abilities.

  • Ashok,
    Suresh Radhakrishnan from LA, CA. We met a few years ago at a school assembly. Truly enjoyed reading your blogs. Very professional, entertaining and nostalgia building. Please keep it up.
    Eleven years ago today, I lost my brother Sateesh Radhakrishnan, in a plane crash. He was a loyal and proud son of Loyola and can’t help thinking how he would’ve jumped into all the LOBA activity. Nice that the flame is kept alive. BOSS is ever present, of course, thanks to people like Gheese and Somu.
    I do remember your request to memorialise the creation of LENS. Promise to do that shortly. I live by the old addage, not from Loyola, obviously – “Never put off till tomorrow, anything that can be put off till day-after-tomorrow”!! Naale, naale….
    Stay safe and healthy, Ashok…and keep on blogging on.

  • Suresh, thank you for the kind words and encouragement. Yes, I’ve been dying to hear from you to write about the history of LENS.

    Naale nammal undoe karmam cheyyuvaan,
    mattullor cheyyum karmangal nammude peril

    as the great Mahakavi Ashok wrote just now.

  • Hi Ashok,
    I remember you writing about Streenath that being the editor of LENS was the proudest achievement of his career. 🙂 ..Probably he also would have good memories of improving LENS during his days.

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