Thursday, April 10, 2008

Kinder Surprise

I did a story on summer classes in the city recently for which I spoke to a mother of school-aged kids who made a very interesting comment. She said that while summer classes in the city were great and offered a child with important experiences, she was often concerned that the children who attended them were from the same background. That is, the children were predominantly from affluent homes whose parents were willing to shell out large sums of money in order to ensure that their children used their time away from school in the most constructive (not necessarily always fun for the child)way possible. So when her children attended similar groups, she was concerned that they weren't being exposed to a healthy cross-section of society. I thought that made a lot of sense and was something that hadn't crossed my mind before.

But the other day I was flipping through the newspaper and I saw that an organisation in the city was holding classes for kids from varied economic backgrounds. In fact, the article specified that if a parent was concerned that their child spent his/her time in a rather 'homogenous' environment, opting for these classes may actually be a great decision. These classes invited slum children and those belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes. That meant, rich kids could spend the entire month under the sun learning theatre forms to aero modelling alongside lesser priveleged counterparts. Besides putting their creativity to use, they would have the chance to meet chidren that they probably wouldn't have a chance to in their priveleged schools or neighbourhoods. That, quite frankly is more learning than money can buy. And finally, the organisation had introduced a new clause in its applications this year where a parent couldn't decide what class the child had to take. Children needed to select the activity that they 'wanted' to take. In a world so closely governed by stereotypes, the slightest deviations from the norm come as a welcome change.

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