What makes a school? - Kanishka Roy Choudhary

What makes a School? Is it the building? Is it the infrastructure including classrooms, laboratories, libraries, halls and the amenities it provides? Is it the walls that have witnessed the little kids evolving into mature adults? 
Literally, the word school has two connotations, first, where it is considered as a combination of a building and educational institution designed for teaching students and second the word School has its roots in the Greek word skhole, the word originally had the sense of “leisure,” which evolved into a “place for discussion,”. I consider the second one to be a more apt definition of school. The reason for the same lies in the Indian Tradition. The history of Indian civilization is an incredible evidence of “school” in a broader perspective. 

Tracing back to Education in the Vedic Period, one finds the existence of the Gurukul system, where students after attaining a certain age were sent to Gurukul, to study and learn. Indian epic Ramayana mentions the ashrama(s)of Sages Viswamitra and Vashishth; Mahabharata mentions the ashram of Dhronacharya who taught Arjun and made him the best in Archery.

The Gurukul, where the Guru was the focal point and was given the highest form of respect, provided an open space for discussions and interaction between the Guru (teacher) and the Shishya (student). Thus, the education system of the Vedic Period i.e. Gurukul system has a resemblance to the meaning of school that defines it as a “place for discussion”, it was the interplay between the Guru and the Shishya that can be fit in the modern definition of School. 

Now the question is what really “makes” a school in contemporary times? The answer lies in the following Doha : 
गरुु गोविंद दोऊ खड़े काके लागू पाय 
बलि हारी गरुु आपने गोविदं दियो बताय” 
( ~ कबीरदास
Kabir wants to say that when God and a Teacher are standing in front of you, you're confused about whose feet to touch first. It should be the Teacher, whose feet you should be touching first. Thus, the Indian Tradition has given primacy to the Teacher over God because it is the Teacher who gives knowledge. 

My argument through this is, you can make a marvellous building, get world-class infrastructure, air-conditioned classrooms in some cases, best-structured laboratories, and informative libraries but what is the point of all this if there is no Teacher to teach and no student to learn? Thus it is the Teacher and her students that really “make a school,” without them it is just a building.

Especially in the case of India, this has been the tradition since the advent of civilization as stated above. The recent trends of modernity cannot diminish the role of a teacher in the lives of her students; that of a guide, a counsellor, or an inspiration in some cases. Secondly, it is the endless noise of students during recess and after the final bell of the day rings that makes a school.

It is "them" standing in order during morning assemblies and reciting prayers that "makes" a school. It is their journey from crying on the first day of school on being separated from their parents to crying on the last day of school on being separated from their teachers and friends that “makes a school”. Kanishka Roy Choudhary
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