Remember those days when you would get home from school at 3 o’clock sharp, you’d drink your milk, walk the dog, take your customary nap, wake up to do your daily ‘lessons’ before an early supper and bedtime once again by 9 o’clock? Of course you don’t. Unless you’re like . . . Forty; or an Enid Blyton novel aficionado. Needless to say, those days have long gone. We live in a world where parents want to give their children every opportunity to get that proverbial head-start in life; a way to subtly introduce them to the madness of everyday adulthood. This leads us to the growing phenomenon of extra-curricular education, a sort of supplement to a child’s daily school life. And while the age-old piano and gymnastics lessons may still exist, these days, you will find extra-curricular classes for just about anythingand everything– right from power yoga and pet-poop-management to entrepreneurship and marketing-for-9th-graders!
Professional teachers undergo months of training before they are deemed fit to conduct these classes; and like any fast-growing industry, the supply of teachers has surely started to exceed their demands; so what makes some teachers and their classes ridiculously popular while others sit about twiddling their thumbs? Take Mr. Dhruv Asher, for example, undoubtedly the most popular Chemistry professor amongst ICSE, ISC and IB students across Bombay. “It’s all word of mouth publicity,” he reflects. “When your product, the class itself, is useful and well-planned, I don’t see a reason why parents would opt otherwise?” And then there are others, like Mrs. Neeta Kulkarni, who runs her own private practice in the field of Chemistry. “Business isn’t exactly booming,” she admits. “Teachers like myself are left with the backlog and overflow effect from bigger players in the market like Mr. Dhruv Asher. My students are usually those who applied too late there, or had to leave for some reason or the other. But we make do. As the old saying goes, there’s plenty of fish in the sea.” When asked whether word-of-mouth publicity was an unfair way for students as they don’t always end up with particularly high grades this way, she agrees. “Because of this bandwagon effect, oftentimes classes turn into parties; ideally an extra-curricular class should strike the right balance between academic and non-academic pursuits.” Teachers also seem receptive to the idea of a full-fledged rating system where students themselves can review their classes in order to help their friends choose whom to go to. “This could be excellent,” Mrs. Kulkarni thinks. “Not only will it benefit the earnest teachers, it will also be a way to build healthy student-teacher relationships in an organized online system.”
A Bombay-based website MyTopTeacher.com seems to be pioneering in this up-and-coming field. MyTopTeacher.com provides a fun and interactive platform for students to rate and search for prospective teachers online, creating a database of the best classes in just about every field possible. The future of extra-curricular education certainly seems to be headed in this direction; only time will tell. For more information visit http://www.mytopteacher.com
Does the ExtraCurricular Education System Need a Revamp Too?