As aspirational parents we seek that elusive 'Good' school that would guarantee the very best education (whatever that means!): the holy grail of a 'good' parent! What do you do? You ask around, check a zillion websites and go on a sanitised guided tour to schools- scouting for that mirage of an education! Chances are that we learn from our own experience of schooling and everyone's experience is varied, adding to the noise; Sigh! the conundrum of a 'good school' remains just that!
Those with time, read books on schooling! If you're one of those, Kalpana Pathak's Breaking the Mould, Alternative Schools in India, Westland Ltd, gives you a heads up into the alternative schooling space! The book is a handy tool for a parent looking for an option, away from run-of-the-mill schools, and also offers insights for an education enthusiast.
Pathak's sight is on schools that engender creativity, natural imaginative powers of a child and is a ready-reckoner for parents starting out in getting to know about tenets of alternative education, philosophies, their founders and also practical tips and advice from parents of the children going to these schools. She lists schools such as the Tridha Rudolph Steiner school, Inodai Waldorf School ,the Sita School Rajghat Besant School amongst others, and takes a closer look at the enrolment policies, the daily days' activities and also examines if there are settlement issues that the child might face if coming from a mainstream school.
A journalist with a Daliy in Mumbai, Pathak unravels the world of alternative schools for the reader. She delves deep into their philosophy, practices and curriculum. A directory at the end of the book offers contact details and addresses of the schools should you wish to explore.
A breezy read heavy with facts, interviews and quotes, but easy on the pace, Pathak's success lies in condensing otherwise deep axioms of alternative education and charting its growth and reach in India. In a dispassionate tone, she presents the case as is. Readers might find this book handy as a ready reckoner of beginners' guide to alternative schooling in India. Researchers, educational enthusiasts might find the book more 'on the surface only' but not superficial, and less exploratory and insightful - though am sure the intention wasn't to really pitch to them.
From busting myths surrounding alternative schooling to pictures of sessions in progress, or the property of an alternative school- the book has it all. The pictures, however, could do with superior quality and clarity for better representation and also a more inviting one. In a 200+ pages read, the book will take you on a journey to options of schooling, what to expect and what it is not! It might not help you make a decision as that got to be supported by personal experience and exposure, but it might open a window and do away with myths that is the reason for alternative education still being a distant reality for most.
However, no book can prepare you for a real life experience - you know that. Right?
Breaking the Mould - Alternative Schools in India