I have always said that teachers should be sources of inspiration, rather than just being dispensers of instruction. This is always easier said than done, but I believe we, as a school, did live up to this difficult ideal during the time of this pandemic, and there are a lot of lessons from the way we conducted ourselves during this difficult year.

Of course, the fact that we could continue delivering the regular academic lessons to you during this difficult time is in itself a lesson in adaptability and innovation. Within a couple of months of lockdown announcement, we built…


Someday, you will again be here. But until then, you are in my thoughts, every moment.

On this Children’s Day, I want to tell you why I set up this school. I will try to write this letter in simplest possible English so that every one of you, from the tiniest ones to the big ones, can read this by yourself.

Many of you know that I spent most of my childhood in Suri. That time, Suri was not so crowded. There were a lot of empty fields. Roads were safe — we did not have so many cars and bikes back then. Everyone knew everyone else.

My school used to end around 10 o’clock in…


I remember I was once coming back from Calcutta with a couple of students and Sayoni — and on the way we typically stop to have tea at a place called Balaji Food Park. Nothing special, just a roadside restaurant, like many others that dot the NH2 near Shaktigarh.

As we neared, we put the location in the map so that we don’t miss it and drive by. Very soon, Google announced, ‘You have reached your destination’.

‘Not really, Google! This is not our final destination. But what do you know anyway!’ I said.

But then Sayoni said, ‘But isn’t…


In the whole of your adult life, how many times did you use the Avogadro’s law? During your entire work life, did you find any use for the date of Battle of Panipat? How many times did you have to recall the formula for Barium Hydroxide?

If you are a school teacher or a professor specializing in these subjects, it is possible that you used these facts. But that cannot really be classified as a real ‘use’. …


Our first batch of students will reach class ten next year and will sit for the board exams. Before summer vacation, we call a meeting of their parents.

‘We will have a preparatory exam right after the summer vacation,’ I announce.

Everyone perks up. I know nothing stirs the attention of parents than a talk about exams.

‘The reason we will have it after summer vacation is to ensure that they utilise the long vacation. I see a lot of them waste time chatting on the internet during vacations — that must not happen.’

Trrng…a WhatsApp notification sound rings from…


From class VI, we encourage our students to read newspaper. It is actively driven by the school — we select a few news items from Times of India every day, students are supposed to read them back home. We discuss them in the class in the next day. It is perilous territory — newspapers are full of news items which children ideally should not see. But the world too is full of cruelty and violence — newspapers just reflect the state of the world. …


(This was a story about the school, and the class I took, that I started writing in 2014–15, intending to publish as a book. With so many other pressing work claiming my time, this was never completed. But I thought I will put up the unfinished work anyway, a bit of it everyday, for our students to read. This is the third instalment of the story)

We are nearing the yearly ASSET test. We put our children through this test every year to benchmark their performance compared to the rest of the country. This is similar to the standardized tests…


(This was a story about the school, and the class I took, that I started writing in 2014–15, intending to publish as a book. With so many other pressing work claiming my time, this was never completed. But I thought I will put up the unfinished work anyway, a bit of it everyday, for our students to read. This is the second instalment of the story)

‘All — please submit your homework, put it on this desk,’ I say.

We did not have any homework for our students in the first couple of years after the school started. Kids studied…


(This was a story about the school, and the class I took, that I started writing in 2014–15, intending to publish as a book. With so many other pressing work claiming my time, this was never completed. But I thought I will put up the unfinished work anyway, a bit of it everyday, for our students to read. If you like it a lot, maybe I can be persuaded to write more!)

‘Bring out your sentence homework,’ I say.

This is one of the few conventional stuffs that we do — students have to write sentences using the words given.


In newspapers and TV, we often hear of reports that the chief minister of a state is distributing free TV to poor people. Some other times, we hear of a state government giving free laptops to students. Sometimes the reports are about rice given away almost free, at Rs 2 per kg. People are happy when governments promise to reduce electricity prices, or to give water for free. But should we really be happy when governments give things away for free?

Nobel-prize winning economist Milton Friedman famously said, ‘There is no such thing as a free lunch.’ And there is…

Arghya Banerjee

Founder, The Levelfield School. Writes on education and society.

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