Friday, July 1, 2011

The School Bag

Throughout the decade of my married life, Poly has served two of  a wife’s duties very well. One, being the punch-bag of all my  gender jokes and two, being the guinea pig of my crazy little experiments. My daughter has a very very important test tomorrow,   because the marks will carry to her finals. As usual, she felt very sleepy at 6 O'clock in the evening  and went to bed. It is normally a challenge for both of us to put her into bed, unless she has an exam on the next day.  Anyways, after ages ,  Poly and me, were alone, seemingly having nothing to do, cause the  chicken curry in the Lunch was decided to be brought forward to Dinner. Poly was visibly upset and tensed because we are sure Jiya won’t be able to write a single sentence in the test. So we tried to do some Root Cause Analysis of Jiya’s total non-interest in  studies  and her self- destructing habit  of playing all the time.  The burning proof of her under-performance is that she scored just a petty  95 %  in her last annuals , when her friends are comfortably ahead of her with 98-99%. Jiya is already six years old and she had been  to school for last four years almost. Its obvious that she still doesn’t like to go to school, look at the expression in her face when she is told that ‘tomorrow is a holiday’. But!!!!!!!
But,  we have to act now, because, we are convinced, as middle class parents , that, whatever extra-curricular  things we put her into, like singing,  dancing,  drawing, swimming, playing tennis, etc. etc. etc., she has to do well in studies and become a professional (I wanted to say a Doctor or an Engineer, but decided against it. It would be too “3 Idiotic” ). If not, we have to make sure that she is educated enough to attract a groom settled in the USA.  Well don’t take me otherwise,  there’s no harm in settling down in the USA, or middle class parents looking for USA grooms for their daughters.
Well, that’s not my point. Engineering does some permanent damage to the way you think, an I am no exception. So,  I had an idea. I have a weighing machine which we bought when we were expecting Jiya. I took that out, and told Poly to get Jiya’s school bag ready. In these times, Poly is a perfect help, if you ignore the ‘gone case’ look in her eyes. I weighed the school bag and it was little more than 5 Kg without the Tiffin box and Water bottle. Jiya’s weight is 15 Kgs since the time I remember, (thanks to her love for a healthy diet and Poly’s wonderful cooking).  5 Kg is one third of 15. Then I asked poly to take her weight, she is 47 Kgs. (Light mosquito weight category in boxing ,  still  very good at knocking me out , though I am  in bantam weight category) – and if I subtract 2 Kgs against  her lipstick & eyeliner  ..she is approximately 45Kgs. 

 One third of 45 is 15. I was looking for something in the house that weighs 15 kgs. Finally,  I settled down for an empty LPG cylinder which weighs 14.2 kgs. I took it. I asked poly to lift the cylinder. She did it somehow,  with obvious irritation in her eyes and severe stress in her muscles.
Then I said-  “Now,  I want you to carry it every morning to some place, work there and still love the job, learn something, behave, be happy, understand and respect your duties, stay cool, be sincere, do well in tests, not complain, be thankful to God, your parents, and teachers. And come back after 6/7 hours and repeat the same thing you did there,  at home. Then in the only break you get on Sunday, you have to carry a little lighter load and excel yourself in swimming, Singing and drawing. During the whole course of action, you have to remain confused why you are doing this, and you won’t have the right to say I don’t like it.”  
I won’t bother by going into details of Poly’s reactions, but the issue is that,  the weight of the school bag is a major factor for making young kids to hate their schools. Sometimes I need to carry my Laptop to the office and I hate it, when it’s just 1/12th  of my weight. Logically I have every reason to believe that every young school kid hates heavy school bags, which in turn creating a negative feeling for their school, though I have only one example at home.
Now why school bags are so heavy?? Simple!!!! The time has changed and now competition is tough (100 % cut off mark for admission). One has to learn a lot of things.. rather subjects , even when they are very young. To achieve 100 % perfectness in all subjects they, as well as parents,  have to sacrifice a little, like carrying heavy bags. Moreover 6/7 hour at school is not enough for achieving that 100 % perfectness in science, environment studies, Maths, Arts & crafts and 3 languages( just to name a few) , so another 6/7  hours of homework is required. So they have to carry 5/6 text books, 9/10 notebooks, pencil box, color pencils, water colors Tiffin-box, water bottle, Chart paper,  other ABL (Activity based learning)  accessories, etc. every day and bring them back home to complete the Homework.  Very rational!!!!  If my school doesn’t do it, the competitors will move ahead, bringing down my revenue.  The whole education system of India approves this, who am I to complain?
Well, again I am drifting  away. There is a scope for lot of discussion on education system, but let’s stick to the school bag for this moment.  I do believe that the weight of school bags has to be reduced if we want our kids to love school. Enjoying school, and for that matter study,  is the most important quality we can induce to our kids, which will make their future life comfortable. Before posting this topic, I have thought of a few practical ways to reduce the weight of school bag. We can discuss them later and find out some effective ways of doing it, and I bet, those will not hamper you in the way you want your kid to learn.
I invite your comments on only one issue at this point of time..”do u think we have to reduce the weight of the school bags??” Friends ..plz .

NB:- I brought out this topic in the first parent teacher meet in Jiya’s school. The school management reciprocated positively, they clearly said despite of jeopardizing my school’s repo, we r into it.. reducing the weight of the school bag. They suggested not to give home work for KG students ( Jiya was in KG that time). But there was a huge protest  from the parents, that home work has to be continued. Otherwise my kid will lag behind his/ her friends from competitor schools. The school somehow managed not to give home work to KG students, causing annoyance to a lot of parents. But  they couldn't stand it till class one- school bags are back to full health..Jiya's weight remaining same what she had in KG.


  1. Nice one :) Although my Jia hasn't reached the school age as yet so I am not capable of commenting on the subject personally but I have seen my neice having the same issue and the same topic being duscussed at PT meetings. Perhaps some of the books can be left in school and only home work can be carried home to reduce the weight. I am not too keen on the eductaional system in India. We concentrate on boookish knowledge more than parctical ones. At the end of the day they should be balanced human beings and be able to cope with things in life other than compitition. We parents are equally responsible for this for in a way its parets vs parents compition (for whatever reason) through their children. They seem to be living their dreams through their children and its on fair on the kids. At the end of the day it doesnt really matter if you stood first in class or which university you passed from and the percentage you scored. What is more important is that is your child happy and complete at the end of the day in their respective lives. Do they have the zest to cope with their life and do what THEY WANT to do rather than what their parents wanted them to do. That will surely make them internally and extrenally happy. Happy children are happy parents. Hence QED!

  2. Some schools nowadays retain the note books in school and send them home only on Fridays for the parents to see what they did in school during the week. On Mondays they are again supposed to carry everything back to school. The schools which are not doing this can be advised to do so. The child carries a heavy bag on one time only instead of 10 in a week. Although the text books alone are also not that too light nowadays. Also, many schools have stopped giving homework 'officially' for primary school children. It can be bad for their reputation for majority of today's parents do not like it. If they have to give, they give it in single page work sheets which the child brings home and takes back the next day after doing the home work. The school which are still far from doing this needs to be taken up for firm discussions by parents. Some of the new age schools seems to have got aware of this aspect and are much better than the golden (older) reputed schools. So its time to rethink whether we would like to have our children sent to the golden reputed school because all students there pass with above 80% marks in board exams or to a new age school that would focus more on incorporating new concepts and techniques for today's children.
    Well written piece. loved the humour part. Would love to see how Polly wears 2 kgs of lipstick-eyeliner !!

  3. thanx bublee, encouraging note. Hugs to ur Jia from my Jiya. @ bidisha.u r right...there are some well as Parents who are scientific in there teaching..But need a state policy on that. i believe in India, it isn't yet decided, what qualities we want to impart on young children through primary education, i mean what are the targets and what is the social requirement (of Primary education).