Two ends of a Spectrum
Vimal Balachander, Thiruvanmiyur
Sishya and Srihari Vikasam schools were as different as my children, my daughter studied in the former, a competitive high-end school, and my son in the later, a special school. My boy was a special child.
Being a Sishya parent meant being in awe of the system that was in a place that churned out great products. It was a well-oiled machinery, and pushed the children to achieve their best. It was never satisfied with ‘good enough’, in fact through my daughter's years in school, I got used to hearing 'she can do better'.
My son's school brought out a different kind of feeling in me. Here even the smallest learning of the child was appreciated and the child received accolades for it. Parent-teacher's meetings made me feel that I was raising an extraordinary achiever!
Every new academic year, parents would be asked to come, in both the schools. In Sishya, I did my best to hide behind the nearest mother, while at Srihari, my hand would be up even before I reached school.
At Sishya, the annual day had us alert watching for the small bit roles that our daughter would be in, seated in a sea of parents, if we managed to come in time to find a chair, while at Srihari, our son usually had quite prominent roles as he was quite stage savvy, and we would sit on our seat's edge at the front row. Sports days in one was about competition and in the other about participation.
Both schools nourished and nurtured the best in both my children, both had dedicated, loving, and hard-working teachers. Both had grounds and trees where kids could wander and see the sky, touch the tree trunks.
Srihari had an intimacy that a small school brings, especially on festival days when a cow would be arranged for Pongal and coloured powders on Holi. Srihari saw me transitioning from a parent to a volunteer to a teacher, after some courses. In Sishya I remained in the backseat.
Years later, now that both my kids are adults and out of these schools, one out to be a lawyer and another an artist, I still wish that both children could have studied in one school, cause they have to live in the same planet, that the same school could have given them a way to be there for one another, to learn that humans are a spectrum, and it takes all kinds to make a rainbow. But that is a dream of a sort of world that we are not prepared for, yet.
Srihari Vikasam is now called Chettinad Sath Sadhana School.