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The best schools do not need to change. Do they?

We met a group of 14 school principals last week over a Zoom meeting. During our presentation, one of the principals asked, 'Will your questions help children in the school exams?'

Before we could answer her question, one of the other principals spoke up, 'These questions will develop the understanding of a concept'. Then, another principal said, 'Children will start thinking with these questions.'

We were pleasantly surprised! We heard one school leader who was worried about 'exams' but we also heard two school leaders who were looking beyond the exams.

Exams, exams, exams. Why is there so much focus on exams?

One of the sources for this excessive focus on 'exams' is the expectations of the parents.

Most parents expect children to score well in exams. They seem to think that if children perform well in 'school exams', then they must be learning. They seem to think that if children perform well in 'school exams', they are more likely to perform well in board exams, thereby securing a good future.

Parents are the customers of each school. How can they schools go against the desires of the parents?

Some schools strike the right balance

While parents' desires are well-meaning, they send their children to the school because schools are expected to know better about education than them. And, what do schools do?

We have met more than 1000 school leaders over the last 7 years. We have noticed that: Many school leaders realise the limitations of the exam system. They realise that while marks may be important, it is also important that students understand topics well. They realise that while parents need to be kept happy, it is also important to develop children into a future innovator.

These school leaders are striking the right balance between parents' expectations and the right things to do.

Do they need to make these changes? Absolutely not. These schools are already producing great results in the board exams. They are already among the top 20 schools of their respective cities. Come admission season and you would see a lot of parents queueing up for admissions of their children. But, these school leaders are keep their feet on the ground and keep getting better.

But, they are constantly training their teachers, improving their lesson plans and are on the look out for new research and tools in the field of education.

To the superheroes of education, the change-makers: If you are reading this, then you know who you are. We salute you. You are a thought leader, a superhero without a cape. You are not sitting outside the school system and criticising it. You are getting your hands dirty and improving the system. The school system is getting better because of leaders like you.

Some of these school leaders have partnered with Open Door, some have not. But, Open Door is able to do good work because of school leaders like you. Thank you!


Aneesh Bangia

Aneesh Bangia is the co-founder of Open Door. He writes about the past, present and future of education.

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