Sunday, October 31, 2010

Classrooms in America

If you’ve ever seen American movies, you must have noticed that American classrooms are quite different from Indian classrooms. Of course, movies being movies, nothing much could be said about it, without seeing an actual classroom. This Saturday, I had the chance to, because the meditation session I was attending was held in a kids’ classroom.

The first thing I noticed was how much stuff it had. I always remember my own school classrooms to be rather sterile – desks and chairs and blackboard and chalk and that’s it. Sure there was a notice board where we could put things up but it was generally bare.

Here, the walls were covered with pictures and paintings often drawn by the kids themselves. Books were stored in one corner in the class room. And there was tons of other stuff, paint, crafts material and toys, games, posters and what not.

(As an aside, the American tendency to accumulate stuff is really fascinating. Whenever I’ve had a chance to see an American’s office or living room, it has always appeared to me to be so full of stuff. Indian living or working spaces always seem to sparse in comparison.)

The second thing was how personal the space was for kids. The stuff that was around wasn’t stuff just bought from the store. It was stuff that they used or drew with or with their own pictures and names on it.

The third thing was a notice outside the classroom -- not adults except teachers etc. are allowed in the corridor when the classes are in progress. The omnipresent American fear of child abusers is rather unusual for my Indian sensibilities.


  1. "I always remember my own school classrooms to be rather sterile – desks and chairs and blackboard and chalk and that’s it."

    -I think this type of classroom might actually be better for the students since there isn't anything to distract them from the learning process. Young kids get distracted very easily, so all that stuff in American classrooms might be counterproductive.

  2. I have noticed this a couple of times at work places. My work place at Ohio had all my colleagues personalizin their work cabins with family pics, origami, stuff that is unique to them. In stark contrast are work places in India where noone ever attempts at the same. Infac, I know of a colleague who was lectured by the HR for putting up her origami art on the pin board( in an architecture firm!!!). Fascinating since our cultures would assume just the opposite behavior.

  3. @Neetika: Intriguing, isn't it. I guess it has to do more with how Indian public spaces are a lot more formal than US public spaces. In India the idea is that formal equals serious. If you're not formal, people don't take you seriously.