Suraj Suryanarayanan Class 11, Mumbai
Sometimes, our online school sessions play out like TV news. Just like the anchor keeps repeating a question till the reporter who is on field hears it in his microphone, our teacher has to repeat questions since she isn’t sure she is audible. This happened recently during our Business Studies class when she asked about the rate of interest for an investment in a company’s equity shares. No one answered for a while because they were still groggy for the morning session. There are also other unintentional sources of entertainment. A student had left his microphone on by mistake and we heard his grandmother wax eloquent in rustic Hindi about how she will outlive the corona crisis. This was a welcome distraction from the Accounts class. We all laughed — with our microphones off.
Attending classes online as opposed to a classroom is like praying at home rather than praying in a temple. Although it’s a commendable, extraordinary effort on the part of the teachers to take these sessions and there is nothing overtly lacking, what I miss is the air of camaraderie and curiosity as students eagerly raised their hands to ask questions. Although we do ask questions on chat and are free to turn on our microphones and ask the teacher a question whenever we have a serious doubt, it’s not really the same.
What I don’t miss is waking up early. For college lectures, which would begin at 7.45am, I would be up at 5am, lounge around a bit and take the bus from Jogeshwari to Andheri and then board a train to Khar. But now, I wake up five minutes before our 9am sessions.
Sometimes, students from other schools try to gatecrash these sessions under aliases. We report these students to the teachers. We are allowed to record sessions which we can access under different folders on the app. I like that the timings of home schooling are flexible but I miss not being able to talk to friends when a class is on. You can’t type on chat: “Hi guys, I am bored.”
— As told to Sharmila Ganesan
Aakankasha Singh Class 12, Anupshahr, UP
My school has very few holidays. We go to school every day whether summer and winter, from 9am to 5pm. Now it feels so strange staying at home. I still get up at 4.30am every day, to finish my homework and read the lessons that will be done in the class that day. I want to become a doctor so I have to study hard and keep up my grades.
But then I help my mother with the housework, cleaning and cooking for the family that includes four of us — my parents and my 18-year-old brother. Though we had a phone at home, I had never used it before the school started online classes. My brother had to help me in figuring out how to take screenshots and send my homework to the teachers.
In the first half of the morning, teachers send us recorded lessons on WhatsApp. We have to watch the videos and they give us exercises to do. Most of the day goes by in this. There is a lot of school work to finish. I miss my gang of friends a lot. We were always together whether it is in class or during lunch.
I am also using the time to learn cooking. My mother says that if I live away from home to pursue further studies at least I should be able to feed myself. I can make anything with aloo in it — aloo gobhi, aloo baigan — and roti. Though I am happy at home, I hope school opens soon.
— As told to Himanshi Dhawan
I never had this luxury of time before
Umme Salama Badshah Class 9, Mumbai
The best thing about homeschooling is that I feel more relaxed. It is a chance to unwind from the crazy cycle of school-homework-routine and enjoy the added family time when we chat and play games. As ninth graders, we’re so caught up with studies and exams that we hardly get the time to sit and think about what we actually want to do with our lives, or what really inspires us. Now that I can study at my own pace, I find myself jotting down my thoughts — be it a poem or a few pages on women’s equality — I never had this luxury of time to explore my feelings or writing as a hobby. I’ve also managed to sit with my parents and discuss what I want to do with my life and what they’d prefer me to do.
Our teachers try to keep the online classes lively — by picking on a random name or a roll number to check whether we’re there and paying attention. They also talk about the pandemic — which helps because we want to understand what’s going on in the world.
At the same time, technical glitches do get on my nerves. Sometimes, the teacher’s voice may have gone ahead while the presentation is frozen. Sometimes, calls get disconnected or the voice echoes or overlaps. When it happens five or six times in a day, it can be very annoying. There are times that a document or an assignment may not open or we don’t receive a link to join a meeting. Unlike regular school where the bell ushers us all back into the classroom, if we fail to join an online class or get late due to connectivity issues, it can be difficult to catch up with the teacher.
I do miss my second home which is school. I miss hopping over to others’ classrooms for fun, meeting teachers, and especially the games classes where all the divisions come together. Usually my summer holidays coincide with Ramzan, and it’s a great time to chill with friends and cousins in each other’s houses, watch movies and pass time, given that we’re hungry and thirsty all day. This year, both stand cancelled and it’s heartbreaking.
— As told to Mohua Das
I’m studying more than before but I miss school
Asaawari Sahai Class 6, Kolkata
It seemed strange at first, when my bedroom became my classroom. Initially, I was taking care to dress, thinking the camera would be on me. Now, I am getting used to the whole new concept. I think I quite like it. I can be relaxed, do the assignments at my pace, read and spend this time with my family. I have been honing some domestic skills during the lockdown, baking and cooking. I am also into calligraphy. Initially, I hated the idea of household chores, but now I find myself taking on responsibilities. I may not take our domestic staff for granted when they return after the lockdown.
Come to think of it, I am actually studying more. The travel time to school and back can be used for study and extra curriculum like coding, app development and dance. Since I can’t go out and play, I am using the time to read or finish assignments. The overall study time has increased, I guess. But I badly want to go back to school.
— As told to Ajanta Chakraborty