Coming of age: Weighing the pros and cons of boarding school education

Coming of age: Weighing the pros and cons of boarding school education

By ANIRUDH VOHRA | | 21 May, 2016
The Doon School in Dehradun.

I got educated at a boarding school and what ever I am today I owe it to those formative years I spent at St. Mary’s High School in Mount Abu. It’s not just good education that moulds a child’s future but the entire environment he or she grows up in. And what a boarding school provides above all is an environment totally different to what you get at a regular school.

But again, there are several who would differ, and believe that it’s unfair to send a young kid away from family to a boarding school. In my opinion, though, the positives outweigh the negatives substantially. If you don’t agree read on, for Guardian 20 spoke to several people about the pros and cons of boarding school education.

Suman Kohli, a career counsellor based in GK-II in Delhi, says, “Boarding schools were once a place of learning that only the elite kids would attend. For the huge costs would deter the masses. It was looked up upon as unaffordable. Still, the boarding school kids are considered more confident, independent and in several aspects much better prepared to take on the world.”        

Yet the charm of boarding schools may have diminished over the years. Kohli continues: “Today, for almost all schools have if not similar, then better school curricula than boarding schools, and extracurricular activities. Plus the charm of the boarding schools up in the hills has diminished to quite an extent. With incrasing amount disposable incomes, parents also have a greater number of choices these days.

While the educational curricula might be more or less similar, the experience of being in boarding school remains entirely unique. In a normal school, the emphasis is on imparting high-quality education to kids, but at a boarding school, the focus is on the wholesome development of a child’s personality.

Vinita Vohra, the Vice Principal of Step By Step school in Jaipur, who has also taught at a boarding school for over a decade, says, “The need for good boarding schools couldn’t be higher, as today both parents in a fmily are working, so the child is left with little and at times no attention. The responsibility to teach the kid not just maths and science but also culture and self-reliance falls upon the schools. The environment in a boarding school is holistic. We no longer have joint families so there is no way a kid will learn simple things like sharing and tolerance, as he or she would at a boarding school.”

But not all parents are that upbeat about the idea of sending their kids to a boarding school. Ritu Saini, a Gurgaon-based homemaker, is  completely against the idea. “I don’t think a boarding school is a good idea,” he says. “You can’t send your child away in his or her formative years. And then we make a big fuss about the idea that children are not attached to their parents anymore! Leave that aside, I want to see my kids growing up, I want to help them grow up and a boarding school completely takes that away.”

Puneet Chadha, who works as an investment banker in Gurgaon, has another interpretation of this matter.

 “I think,” he tells Guardian 20,  “it’s a good idea to send a kid to a boarding school for a few years as it will really help the kids to first realise the value of their parents and second it will help them become self-reliant. Eventually they have to go out and live on their own, so why not prepare them in advance for that.”

Let’s now hear it from someone who has finished who completed her span at a boarding school recently. “The lessons you learn in a boarding school stay with you for life. If you want your kids to learn how to stand on their own feet and make decisions independently, it’s a great idea to send them to a boarding school. It’s about so much more than academics — it’s about team work, learning how to live with people and habits you may not necessarily like. And that’s what will always serve boarding school kids well for the rest of their lives,” says Aleesha Matharu an alumnus of the Welham Girls’ School in Dehradun.


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