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'Do away with the ranking system'

Ranking system is a measure of how a student’s performance is in comparion to other students – Raja McGee, Principal and Secretary, Calcutta Boys’ School

Do away with the ranking system
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Raja McGee, Principal and Secretary, Calcutta Boys' School talks about the journey of school, challenges they face, their way of dealing with students' issues and more.

Journey

The Calcutta Boys' School was founded by the Rev James Mills Thoburn (Methodist Missionary to India, and later Missionary Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church), and was opened in 1877. It was endowed by Robert Laidlaw and others interested in the education of the sons of the Anglo-Indian and domiciled European community. Raja McGee, became the Principal in 2007, introduced the USO – United Students Organisation (an elected Students Council) and the DIA (Department for Innovation and Assessment).

The language festival 'Lingua Fiesta' and the science festival 'COSMA' (Computer, Science & Math festival). During his tenure as Principal and Secretary of the school, he established branch campuses at Sonarpur in 2008 with around 250 students, Beliaghata in 2010 with around 450 students and Asansol with around 300 students, (East Burdwan) in 2015. The new additions are the West End building (built in 2017) and a magnificent colonial building, called the "Commemoration Building", housing state of the art science and computer laboratories, cafeteria, gymnasium, Board Room and class rooms which was has begun.

Importance of communal harmony in the school

In school, the students are taught to value and respect all religions as school is a miniature society, thus the school try maintaining the secular feel in the premises.

Every festival is celebrated in the school and every religion is treated and respected equally and this goes a long way in maintaining the communal harmony.

However, even as the Constitution of India enforces laws to maintain communal harmony and the government of the country takes strong measures to ensure the same, its educating the child about the importance of communal harmony since childhood.

Student Discipline and Suicides

Environmental challenges lead to mental concerns as well: racial, sexual or religious discrimination, body-shaming, sexual challenges, emotional issues, low self-esteem or insecurities, family or financial problems, substance addiction, and even hormonal changes may play a part. Pressure from parents to perform well in exams can affect a child's mental health. Being bullied by other kids can act as a trigger. Mental concerns often manifest themselves as poor academic performance, lack of motivation, social interaction issues with peers or teachers, and even self-harm. And then, they have to contend with the beast of stigma attached to mental issues.

In India, parents often go into denial mode when it comes to their child's mental health, resorting to statements like, "My child has no such problems!" This attitude must go. Parents must understand how fragile their children's mental well-being is and be proactive in assessing it. They should earn the trust and confidence in the child. Teachers certainly need to be trained in identifying symptoms and patterns of mental issues. For example, before scolding a child for disruptive behavior, they could use these skills to analyse the reason behind such behavior. Also, educational institutions must have psychological counseling programs in place to help students deal with their issues in confidentiality. Every child's coping mechanism is different. Hence, the counseling programs must be flexible, to cater to the needs of each child individually. If needed, a student must be referred to a mental healthcare professional for timely intervention.

Value of education

In Calcutta Boys' School, honors and distinctions are given to students instead of ranking them. The school has changed the rule of ranking system as class rank is a measure of how a student's performance is in comparion to other students. The main purpose of these changes is to shift the focus of children from competing to learning. There is no point comparing oneself with another. But removing these indicators is for a good reason, so that the child understands that learning is not a competition, but a self-discipline they need to master for life.

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