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Great Expectations: When a Son Enters Loyola

Great Expectations: When a Son Enters Loyola

What do parents want from Loyola these days? A parent whose son joins the upper kindergarten (UKG) this year shares his expectations.

Note: This is a guest post. Author name witheld on request.

Ever since my son was born, I have been thinking about his school with a firm mind that his 12+ years of schooling should be memorable. Our being in Trivandrum, close to Loyola School, I thought of getting an admission for my child there. With year-long slow and steady preparation, and without letting him know that he was going to compete for a place in school, we taught him the basics and took him through the initial process of admission, to meet the expectations of the school from a UKG aspirant; my son finally got admitted to UKG. The child having met the school’s expectations, it is now time for the school to nurture and mould him. Here are some of my expectations, as a parent, from the school and teachers.

The school should offer a highly disciplined, clean, and neatly organised environment; in only such places can great character be developed. Students should have an wholesome atmosphere in their school. If there are set rules—dos and don’ts—and if that is practised by all, it will be easy for the new entrants to follow the same. Checks on personal grooming and hygiene of students are also important. Teachers need to check whether the student is properly groomed in proper uniform, clean and polished shoes, combed hair, trimmed nail, and the like.

All teachers should be well qualified, subject-matter experts, and above all, highly trained in the way they teach. For young students, teachers are the ultimate people. They firmly believe in what they are taught. So it is important that teachers come prepared and deliver the lectures in the most appropriate way, so that students understand what they learn and why they learn. Teachers should be always approachable. Teachers should try to make themselves loved rather than feared. There should be open and constructive feedback from teachers. Every student is different, and it is important for teachers to find out the real self, interest, strength, and weakness of students, and bring them up with adequate support. Make the classroom a safe haven—a great place that is conducive to learning. Let the teachers be aware of what is going on socially among students. Prohibit name-calling, teasing, and other forms of emotional distress. The school should make students feel the importance of learning; let them feel enthusiastic about going to school every morning.

Good infrastructure is important. Students should get access to a good library, sports amenities, and the like. The school should have a lot of extra-curricular activities that can help to develop their skills. It is also important for students to learn to cheer the victor (not to over rejoice or show ecstasy like Sreesanth and tease the loser), accept failures (not to get shattered and heartbroken, but learn lessons from failures), and congratulate the winners. Ultimately, they must learn to control emotions, and playgrounds and healthy competitions can make them learn this.

Learning to read, write, and speak sophisticated English is a must, and the school should be the best place for that. Make the student understand the importance of English language and why they have to learn and speak it. Often I have noticed students speaking either Malayalam or butler English, but teasing those who speak English. This can affect the morale of a student. Elocution practice and loud reading to improve pronunciation are some of the ways that the school can adopt to improve students’ English-speaking skills. Training in public speaking will give them lots of confidence and drive away stage fright.

The school must teach students good manners—how to behave in public, respect each other, and respect others (especially women and elders). It must teach the value of society and of being a good human, the value of money, the need for compassion to the have-nots, and to be sensitive to the needs of others.

It is also important that students learn to do some physical activities other than just sports and games. Let them learn from the school to do works like gardening, cleaning the surroundings, planting trees, and keeping the library and other common places neat, clean, and organised. Let them learn and develop a sense of belonging. Let every student get a chance to be the leader of their class at least for a short period.

As Don Bosco mentions in An Exhortation to Educators, “The boys should not only be loved, but realise that they are loved.”

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Which of these expectations are likely to be met in Loyola? What has been your experience of Loyola or other schools in the past five years? Have parents’ expectations remained the same since the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s? As a parent, what else would you expect from Loyola today? Discuss these and more.

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Photo courtesy: Loyola School website

Why We Thought BOS Came Back from Nigeria

Why We Thought BOS Came Back from Nigeria

When Roshen (1989) sent me this, I could not resist putting it here.
– Ashok

Hi, this is Roshen, Ashok’s brother. B.O. Sebastian sir’s comment that he and Teresa madam had never been to Nigeria has come as a shock to Ashok and me. Old memories are being looked up, puzzled looks are being exchanged…

The story begins when Ashok joined LKG in Loyola. Unlike now, he was a very silent kid and rarely spoke a word. A few days after joining Loyola, he came home prattling “akka chakka nova, leh misa, leh misa, gudu gudu misa, gudu gudu misa”. No really, I didn’t make that up. He said that – many, many times.

As the elder brother, I was amused by this sudden eloquence and showed off my brother to our neighbours. No one could understand what Ashok was trying to tell us.

Our mother, worried, went to meet his class teacher, who had newly arrived from… ahem… Nigeria. According to family legend, his class teacher Teresa madam, told our mother that Ashok was actually singing a song she had taught the class. “akka chakka nova” was a song she had picked up from her days in Nigeria. There was nothing to worry about the boy. In fact, he seemed to be appreciating other cultures very well. At least, that’s what our mother told us when she came home.

And now BOS reveals that he and Teresa madam have never seen the shores of Nigeria. Ashok has frantically been googling for “akka chakka nova” today. Zero results!

Putting all pieces together, it’s clear now why our mother used to sleep so little those days. She was hiding Ashok’s gibberish from the rest of us. Teresa madam’s Nigerian connection was invented to “explain” the prattle. And thirty years later, we still thought BOS came back from Nigeria.

Bye, Mr Baker

Bye, Mr Baker

Laurie Baker left us two Sundays ago. We left him a decade ago.

Architect and builder Laurie Baker designed and built the junior classrooms that Loyolites grew up in, and the canteen complex where we sipped our first chocolate milk, asked uncle for football, collected NCC gear, mauled music on weekdays, and rounded off Saturday afternoons with porotta and curry. In the mid-1990s, the music room was demolished; later, the junior school and canteen buildings went through a makeover.

Loyola Chapel; Pic courtesy: Frontline (http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2005/stories/20030314000906400.htm)Baker’s most famous creation at Loyola — the chapel-auditorium complex — is still there. The Sutters of Toledo (Ohio, US) had donated Rs 175,000 and Baker built it in 1970-71, managing to keep the cost within the original gift sum.

In Laurie Baker: Life, Works and Writings, Gautam Bhatia quotes the brickmaster:

The official clients are Jesuit priests. Although they agreed to my proposals and plans, obviously they did not appreciate the high vast stretches of unplastered brickwork. They had every intention of tarting the whole thing up later on with nice bright paints and plasters, but have not been able to bring themselves to do this simply because there is a small but steady and persistent stream of foreign visitors, both architects and priests, who come just to see and take photographs.

Maybe. But the Jesuits had the last laugh when they chose to steal its soul: the people who use it. After all, what is an auditorium without children, their speeches, quizzes, drama or music? In the late 1990s, the school decided to build another auditorium: an auditorium-cum-indoor stadium.

  • Bigger.
  • Rs 40 million thus far, six months to go.
  • Acoustics worth Rs 6 million.
  • Synthetic flooring.

Grand. But not low-cost. Not eco-friendly. Not Baker.

The school had reasons to leave Baker behind. In the case of the junior school building, the school wanted more and safer classrooms. And for the auditorium, it was hungry for seating capacity and hi-tech facilities.

Changing times, changing needs, and dare I say, changing philosophies. I will not be surprised if Baker’s football ground pavilion is reworked to accommodate more people and provide facilities. I will not be surprised if youth festivals and La Fests move from Sutter Hall to the new stadium. Children will continue to admiringly watch their heroes and clap for them, and on stage, perform with pride, excitement and fear. No longer in the hall that Baker built. Laurie Baker’s passing away in 2007 coincides with Loyola’s final farewell to him.

Last month, on Orkut’s Loyola community, a twelfth-standard student posted: “Someone tell me who the crap is Laurie Baker?”. Let’s just say that he was the parent of an old boy. Tilak Baker belonged to the 1977 batch.