As schools open and new books, uniforms, lunchboxes are unwrapped, the questions that plagues all kids are: ‘Who will be sitting next to me in the classroom? Are my friends going to be in the same room?’
Most children value this over and above everything else. Almost all children go through heart breaks as their cherished friends are shifted somewhere else. Many children suffer acute anxiety as they have to start the herculean task of finding friends anew.
Most schools believe in shuffling students every year. School authorities claim that this is a random process (like Asians are “randomly” chosen for frisking at US airports) and it is necessary for character-building of children. Character in question is ability to make friends with whosoever is thrown at you (like you are expected to love and cherish a person chosen by your family to marry).
When parents and teachers of these kids grew up, change was not a big factor in life. Jobs, family circles, residences, schools were for life. People grew up in stable environments. Changing classes was reserved as punishment and aimed at breaking up gangs.
As we become more mobile within our country and even outside it for better earning opportunities, change became the new constant. Jobs, residences, friend circles face constant turmoil. Multiply that by two for both parents working. One school principal told me that up to 10 per cent of children move school/city/board every year. That is clearly reflected in a constant flux of neighbours that we see in housing societies. That means, every three to four years, a child is looking at a completely new set of friends even if his family does not move.
Friendships are supposed to grow into long term positive bonds that
go beyond family circle. These
bonds need time to develop and strengthen before they are ready to withstand a challenge of separation. Presently, when children do not
get much unstructured play time
and don’t meet their school
friends outside school time, where
is the chance to develop genuine friendships? These yearly disruptions of friendships can force
children to become more individualists and they start looking at friendship as a superficial, disposable commodity.
I agree that some children need to be moved around due to behavioural issues. But this wholesale shuffling as yearly routine is it doing any good or causing more harm especially to younger kids?
Are we going to wake up to the reality of mobile world or we are going to brush aside these genuine concerns and declare, “Hum angrezon ke jamane ke jailor hain, hum nahi badlenge, ha ha..”