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Neil came home from school yesterday in a state of - well, hunger, but it was much more than that. He always comes home hungry, but he was STARVING. And furious, too. Now ever since Neil hit the teens last year, I am accustomed to his coming home hungry from school and wanting his food NOW! Naturally, when things had quietened down a little I probed him for the reason.

It seems that his school (one of the top ten English medium public schools of India) had invited some noted Sanskrit(the language of ancient India, the one in which the Hindu scriptures are written) scholar to come and talk to the children. All the students in Eighth Class sat in the auditorium and listened to the noted scholar speak for seven class periods. That's not less than five hours by my estimation. The noted scholar lectured for the duration of that time, sharing his pearls of wisdom. Although the children had carried their lunch boxes from home, they were unable to leave the auditorium for the duration of the session, so they had to remain hungry. Once the session was over, it was time to leave.

I think that this is a really cruel experience to inflict on youngsters. No doubt, outside speakers can be a great boon to school students who see the same teachers day in, day out. Outside speakers can shake you up, give you a fresh outlook and make you think outside the box. But hungry children can't listen. They think only of their stomachs. From what Neil tells me, most of the kids were bored out of their brains.

I asked him what did he learn from the respected speaker. Neil learnt that desires are infinite and can never be satisfied. Once the needs are satisfied, the wants are infinite. Yes, true! But was it necessary to starve the children to prove this particular point? The session (sounds like it was a seminar rather than a lecture!) was an exhortation, it seems, to tell the children that seeking selfish desires is a worthless pursuit and that one must try to get involved in nation building and social service, and work for justice. Therein lies true happiness.

Well, you couldn't disagree with any of that on principle. But a mere forty minute lecture would have made the point. Not five hours.

Neil doesn't remember the name or designation of the speaker. I will have to read it when the school's annual book comes out, next April. But the galling thing is that the report will be a public relations puff piece, dictated by a teacher and 'written' by a student, about how the 'honourable speaker' gave such a profound lecture which will stay with the children all their lives, how the function was a resounding success and how the 'honourable speaker' was presented with a memento by the 'grateful' students who have greatly benefited from his learned discourse......

Pure eyewash and nothing but!


  1. Gaelikaa, I share your dismay - what of the kids' blood sugar levels? Were they at least allowed to drink some water?

    AND here is a truly pressing question: Were they permitted to go to the toilet during those five hours?????

    Why not voice your displeasure to the school? Otherwise your younger children, their friends and class mates might have to sit through that same experience as Neil did. It'll also teach your son that one doesn't have to take things lying down just because 'authority' (of any kind) is written all over it.


  2. maybe that speech was a little bit too long... maybe you just souldmake them notis that it's impossibile to keep children for such a long time listening - it's also uneffective beacuse they certainly loose their attention!
    have a good day,

  3. You are SO right about the praise that will probably be bestowed upon this sadistic individual.
    Great post, interesting insight, as only a mother could relate.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such a nice comment!

  4. Gosh, five hours is a very long time to keep young people in a confined space and attentive. My first thoughts were - did anyone faint?

    Were there teachers from the school in the auditorium for the duration? If not I think that both yourself and Yash, as parents, are within your rights to let the school know of your concerns.

    Desires might be infinite, but a full bladder will not stay full forever. A pool of urine, would embarrass a student, no doubt cause hilarity amongst the others, extra unnecessary work for the cleaners and totally lose focus of the message that the learned Guest wanted to impart.

  5. It seems that there must have been a mistake somewhere, it can be possible that they will starve children this way. Sometimes it is very hard to be a kid. No one ever pays attention to your needs and if you raise your opinions no one takes you seriously. No adult could take sitting five hours straight, we always have breaks and coffee each hour in meetings.;)

  6. 5 hours and unable to leave to eat? i'd be a bit livid and likely calling the school to give them a piece of my mind on the matter.

    additionally i have my own pearl of wisdom. feel free to translate it into sanskrit to give it gravitas when sharing it with the school.

    the mind can only absorb what the arse can endure.

  7. 5 HOURS???????? Are you joking? No you're not...
    Well... I have no words...
    Poor child...
    How come teachers allow such a thing to happen???

  8. That's just ridiculous. I'll bet that there are a lot of angry parents out your way. That's so wrong.

  9. this is cruel and hopefully unusual...his message will be lost in their suffring and he will be remembered for just that...

  10. Poor things, I can't imagine sitting still and listening for someone for that long, never mind expecting a child too. Dreadful.

  11. Oh man. I come out swinging when my kids are deprived of a need-- and food and drink for growing children is a NEED. Wow.

  12. Oh my goodness! Your poor son! Actually those poor children! I am stunned that they would subject the children to a five hour lecture with out even the opportunity for a break to eat. Man even in college during my one night class (only three hours) we had a break.

    I think you are right, the lessons to be learned could have been learned in a better manner.

  13. Yes, one of the members of the school board was present on the occasion according to Neil. I think that she is due an email from me. This must not happen again. I thank all of you for your comments and support.

  14. I am amazed. Holding children's attention for more than 5 minutes can be a challenge.

  15. I'm quite shocked by this Gael, and I bet you are angry and rightly so. Those children will eventually remember nothing of what was said, they will only remember how they had to endure 5 hours of "torture". Dreadful!

  16. That is ridiculous! And not even a lunch break. An email or visit to get to the bottom of this I feel would be acceptable. I can't wait to hear what came of it.

  17. An eyewash is an understatement. This is cruelty and the speaker/organisers must be insensitive martinets, not understanding the needs of children. I quite agree that you should take this up very strongly with the school administration.

  18. As kids, we have attended such seminars in school and in fact, we were more interested in these 'out of syllabus' stuff rather than our regular classes. One Mr Nair of Kerala Shathra Sahithya Parishad visits our school at least once in a month. The moment we see his grey hair, we jumped with ecstasy as we know we can hear a new story that day. And of course, it was under the big banyan tree on one side of our school. While the story goes on, some of us may stand up and make a gesture to our class teacher with the little finger; and when he nods ‘OK’ the kid runs to the nearby open land and will be back in a couple of minutes with a fresh mind and body...and the story goes on.....Mr Nair never fails to leave us for a break when it is time for our free mid-day meal....And, trust me, the Sanskrit stories what Mr Nair shared, is fresh in my mind, even today.

    Well there is one big difference between Neil's school and mine.....

    Neil's is a Private school! Mine was Govt run. Neil's is one of the top ten! Mine was the bottom ten.

    Note: Private schools are always better in terms of coaching and facilities. But we loose something to gain something

  19. Nothing worse than a hungry kiddo, unless it's a hungry, GRUMPY kiddo! SITS sent me by, and I'm glad they did...

    Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

  20. That poor boy! My daughter comes home peckish, but not from a five hour lecture!

  21. Gaelikaa,that's not acceptable!PAINFUL !Take it up with the school.

    Thanks for your messages and visits at my blog,I've still got probs with the computer,so unable to visit everyone soon enough.I'll be back.bye...have a good weekend.


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