Sandy Hooda's Journey to Find a Great School
In most major Indian cities and perhaps in major cities of the world, the most difficult challenge for a parent is to find the right school for their child. Sandy Hooda was one such father of a 3 year old boy. As usual the research around the ‘right’ school pointed towards two or three schools in the city. The only way to ensure a seat was to have a ‘connection’ with the owner, or to be very lucky to win a seat in the government mandated school lottery. The odds of winning the admissions lottery were less favorable than seeing a blue moon.
Every known influential and connected person was contacted, every favor pulled and the admission was secured in what was considered to be one of the most coveted schools in the city. The little boy started to go to this new school. After a few weeks the little boy was not excited about his school and had a sad face every morning. Sandy Hooda and his wife were worried and Sandy decided to go and see for himself what the problem might be. As he walked around in the school he discovered that very little had changed. Rows upon rows of traditional classrooms and lecture oriented ‘frontal teaching’ dominated the school landscape. The class teacher couldn’t give a satisfactory explanation for why the little boy didn’t like his school. Sandy asked the teacher to permit him to sit in to observe the classroom however this was promptly declined saying it was against the rules. Sandy wondered whether the rules were more important than the child’s happiness. After much deliberation Sandy and his wife decided to withdraw their boy from the school and to admit him in a different school. Unfortunately it was a very expensive school for meant primarily for expatriates. However this experience was different for the boy, even though the school design was still somewhat traditional, teachers and the teaching methods were flexible and the environment was more open. Overnight the child’s school life was transformed and he started loving his school.
Sandy Hooda thought very hard about this issue and could connect his son’s school experience with his own. And he started asking some basic questions. Why are schools not evolving? (Especially since all major industries and companies have completely transformed how they look, and work). Why are schools still teaching in the same old ways that are not interesting for a child? If classrooms are largely boring then how can consistent Learning happen? Why are schools more rule based than happiness based? Why are most teachers still operating in the same mould as their predecessors? Why do schools look the same as schools did many decades ago? Why can’t mainstream schools transform themselves and yet remain affordable?
To answer his questions, Sandy Hooda set out on a journey to travel the world.