Boarding Schools – The Youth Community

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What Makes "Boarding Schools" a Boarding School?

Boarding school is a special and unique place. Based on Oxford Dictionary, a boarding school is a school where students reside during the semester. Boarding school students will live in the school area and can’t go home like ordinary students. If normal students can go home after they finish school, boarding school students only can come back home on long holidays, national holidays, or important dates depending on the school’s policies. They spend almost every day in the school area with their friends and teachers. 

Every boarding school has its own rules and regulations about room management, school curriculum, meals schedule, and other things. For example, a boarding school in Indonesia, Del Senior High School, only allows their students to go outside on weekends until 6 PM. The students managed to be together with 4 – 6 people in a room. They have many schedules for a day, such as cleaning the dorm at 5 AM, going to school at 7 AM, extracurricular at 5 PM, self-learning at 7 PM, and so on. 

The boarding school students can’t go home as often as ordinary students. Thus, they need to manage everything by themselves besides regulated things. This condition could push them to be independent and have time-management ability. Since the school has regulations related to students’ routines,  they could learn the time-blocked system and structured habits.  The exclusive thing about being a boarding school student is friends. Friends are their mother, tutor, entertainment, story listener, and so on because they spend almost all their time with their friends. Mostly, the teachers and students have a special bonding since teachers are their parents and older people at boarding school. Therefore, it’s normal to find that students and teachers joke with each other, but still with politeness. 

Based on several boarding school alumni experiences, they created many stories, such as exciting, sad, scary, humorous, and memorable. Since they lived together in a school dormitory, they didn’t have any television or smartphone to amuse themselves. Thus, they would watch a movie with their classmates and homeroom teacher. They would stay until 11 PM at the classroom to have dinner together, play games, watch movies, etc. The cleanness and neatness of the dormitory are on their hand so that they would have a schedule and task distribution to clean up their dorm. This routine grows the students’ self-awareness about cleanliness and teamwork. 

teacher and children

Source: Unsplash

Their friends are their tutors. This phrase best describes the condition in which they studied together until late at night for exams and helped each other on that subjects. The boarding school alumni said that they would have snacks to make them stay up until late at night. Several of them even needed to smuggle coffee because it’s prohibited. They had many tricks to make a cup of coffee secretly at their dorm. Moreover, a few students brew the coffee at the clothesline. This situation encourages them to study. Even though they aren’t in the mood for studying, they still can get knowledge by listening to their friends or asking questions to their friends. Compactness and collaboration are highlighted here. 

Stories are common to be told from mouth to mouth among the students. Many stories would be circulated among them, such as funny, touching, fruitful, and horror stories. There was a story about a ghost in a room that always disturb the room occupants at night. Based on the story that spread among the students, the ghost afflicted occupant when she is sleeping.   Not only about horror, but stories about fights and struggles used to be discussed, such as seniors’ achievements or friends’ grapple to achieve something. 

A simple activity called Ngorbit among them is one of the best activities that only can be found in the dorm.  Norbit is a designation for a walk around the school. They used to walk around together with their friends or even alone to have fun, kill time, share stories, and think about everything. They could do that as the school’s environment is still shady and leafy. Ngorbit could be the best activity used for “dating” as well. 

Studying as a boarding school student is just amazing. It makes us experience many new things. “From those years in boarding school, we learn how to appreciate small things. There weren’t many things that you could see from that school, but there were many small things that could make us happy. Before I entered boarding school, I didn’t know that walking around the school could be that exciting. Before I entered boarding school, I didn’t know that simple snacks could be delicious and full of togetherness. Before I entered boarding school, I didn’t know that messages on sticky notes from friends, seniors, and juniors could be that precious,” said someone who is an alumnus from Del Senior High School, Indonesia.

Since the students live together in the dorm, they usually share their kinds of stuff. That’s why sharing is everything in boarding school. A person can’t always find everything by itself. However, friends could complete those missing things. For instance, if they don’t have stationaries (pencil, colour pencils, paper, etc.), they could borrow or ask for it from their friends. Finding novels or books is easy for boarding school students. They only need to knock the room besides, then ask for the book they want to borrow. They take sharing for granted because they’re sisters and brothers there. Even though there were fights and quarrels, it made their bond tighter.

The last thing that the students could find when they’re boarding school students is getting to know themselves better. They aren’t with their parents or house. Therefore, it’s a chance for them to dig themselves and get to know more about what they like, dislike, want to do, preferences, etc. There are a lot of opportunities for them to grow, such as competitions, organizations, soft-skills development, time management, social skills, and so on. Thus, the students have to seize that moment to make themselves grow.

Historical and Connectivity of Boarding Schools

The historical context of boarding schools established these educational institutions as selective, elitist, propounding knowledge on religious grounds. But like two sides of a coin, the viewpoint could be adjusted to unravel how these schools also made possible diversity and cultural integration and put into norm the all-around development of students integral to the conventions of schooling.

Boarding schools first emerged in middle-age Europe and hence British boarding schools set the base and model for most of the world’s prestigious boarding schools. Like the King’s School in Canterbury, England founded in the year 597, these were religious institutions to serve and educate students who would go on to serve as community priests or take up other positions in the church. Later in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, Boarding schools in Europe called public schools were intended for the children of the poor but eventually were replaced by rich paying students.

In other parts of the world, with a focus on ASEAN countries, boarding schools have become popular within the last few decades. One of the prime reasons for the popularity of these schools is the lack of accessibility of quality education in remote areas. Parents are then forced to send their children to boarding schoolsin metropolitan areas. In 1996, the Department of Social, Home Affairs, Education and Culture of Indonesia, as well as the Religion Ministries decided to provide financial aid and transportation for children living in remote areas or so that they could attend boarding schools.

Another important determinant of the spread of boarding schools in Asian countries is the influence of western culture. Boarding schools are an appealing option to many Asian parents because they want to provide their children with a Western-style education while keeping them close to home, also their school curriculum is viewed as a gateway into Western education methods, which differ from the Asian approach. Expatriate Westerners make up a large proportion of the student body at foreign-located boarding schools, hence local Asian students gain exposure to a culture and way of thinking that can help prepare them for college or a career abroad. Satellite boarding schools like Bromsgrove International School Thailand are also beneficial to the government. The country benefits from students’ tertiary education abroad and they reside in their home countries in their formative years.

Boarding schools offer a plethora of tangible benefits like smaller class sizes, more resources, more challenging curriculum, and a diverse range of extracurricular activities. But the choice between a regular day boarding school and a boarding school is not an objective one. It depends on the conditions and environment of the parents and children, their expectations and the resources available to them.

  1. Education and development – Boarding schools offer smaller class sizes and all-day access to the faculty. This ensures that enough attention is given to every student and their individual learning needs and time is kept in accordance with. Additionally, boarding schools are not limited to a six-hour textbook lesson timetable but extend to a multidisciplinary and multidimensional environment of learning. Students have all their time accounted for and are required to engage in co-curricular activities dispensed to them by the school. In comparison, day schools provide children with the flexibility to manage their day at their disposal. They can opt for extra classes and tuition for additional help in academics and extracurricular activities offered by the school and evening classes for their hobbies.
  2. Family relationships – For students who do not receive adequate family care or enough time from working parents, they may be able to receive better care and a better quality of life at school than they do at home, which may contribute to their healthy development. Nobody in the family interferes excessively in others’ affairs, and because you see each other less frequently, the time you do spend together is of higher quality. Furthermore, the child is not exposed to any family tension or stress that may be present at home. Living apart from family for years, with only a few visits home, can strain relationships without a strong base. Furthermore, children can experience homesickness, which can have a negative impact on their development in a variety of ways. When a child attends boarding school, parents are less involved in their upbringing. Parents give up many of the decisions they normally make as to what their child is and isn’t allowed to do, and the responsibility falls on someone else’s shoulders.
  3. Cost – Boarding schools cost significantly more than day schools. Even after considering the above head charges of tuition, boarding, meals, security, health and medical, labs, equipment and facilities etcetera, parents can still save a massive amount of money by enrolling their child in a day school and having them home every night.
  4. On other factors like inculcation of independence and discipline, socialising and teamwork, boarding schools take an edge over day schools however students in boarding schools are confined to a limited environment and lack touch with the outside world. They compete and thrive within the walls of their campus but may find it difficult to cope outside. Boarding schools may often lack diversity due to high tuition fees and rigorous selection criteria or, on the contrary, have a diverse group of individuals from across states and outside the country, thereby providing exposure to different cultures and fostering inclusivity.

Popular culture portrays an overly enthralling image of boarding schools with dorm life among growing teenagers who are finding their way through a transitory time in their lives in a setting where life-long friends are made. Some students are sent to elitist boarding schools with grandeur social hierarchies, some for magical reasons, a very prominent example being ‘Harry Potter’ and others were initially sent to boarding school as a consequence for acting out.

It is a myth that sending a spoiled child to a boarding school will solve the problem. Those with behavioural issues or deficits may find that boarding school, with the freedom and independence that it grants students, may exacerbate the problem. These are not correctional facilities and therefore shouldn’t be generally viewed as such.

Academic Tutoring and Management Influence on Boarding School

Boarding School Education has become a new form of platform for accessible education for students especially within the sectors of secondary and tertiary education respectively. In its widest sense, a boarding school system is a incredibly intensive form of academic education, where the student is required to live in the settings provided by the school which usually excludes interactions with parents or other students outside of the school for most of the time, to increase the best odds of coping mechanism and school studies orientation.

If the human interaction spectrum of a boarding school is visualized, you may see three clear sectors being ‘teachers’, ‘students’ and ‘studies’; a complete basic foundation of such a school. In this perspective, the teachers being the sole responsible entity who deal with dozens of students at a time coordinating different subject schedules and classroom habits are to be discussed and how these behaviors may have a significant impact on the students at the site.

The main concern of the boarding school is to maximize the time a student (youth) might be spending at home or outside of school with near – constant exposure to studies and academic performances. In this sense, the teachers who would be having the most interaction needs to be well – drilled with children psychology and behavioral control. Particularly in ASEAN Member States where cultural and traditional heritage overshadows societal dialogues, teachers are well – respected and in some cases, honored greatly.

The problem persists where the said teachers do not act appropriately to meet the needs of young children. There are several if not random objectives that may arise from these needs but some of the most prominent ones are –

  1. Religious Assistance and Respect
  2. Peer Pressure
  3. Lack of Exposure to Open Dialogues
  4. Compromised Classroom

Students in a boarding school may derive from a range of different religious backgrounds which may be directly different or at times have specific arrangements on cultural wear, monthly traditions and religious activities. Teachers from a particular geographic boarding school tend to be more familiar with the dominating religion in that area which may spark difficult commodity for the said student who has a different religion. An example would be religiously important days contradicting tutorials or tests. The teachers are thus required to be culturally linguistic to be able to accommodate the best needs of the students and not favor a comfort solution.

The lack of interaction with different people within a restricted ground makes a student’s behavior and personality traits disorder or at times alter completely. Having constant contact with the same set of people might be pleasing for those who are socially indulging but for a more introverted person, this is quite a nuisance. Cases where the student may feel bullied or harassed might be overlooked by a teacher for numerous reasons such as sexual or gender discrimination, academic performances discoloration and navigating to deliberately isolate a specific group of students or a student for personal objections. The teachers are then required to be extremely alert of these dangerous and sensitive changes that may be taking place sometimes right under the noses.

In cases where the teaching mechanism is strict and does not offer momentum of change, the environment starts to create a harsh and occupied platform for the students to interact with the teacher. For example, a female student at a boarding school may feel hesitant to discuss her health with a male teacher knowingly that the said teacher has had jokes or remarks on other associated topics that had made her uncomfortable before. Other times, the teachers may resort to being explicit and language offensively with the objective of maintaining order of control over the students. This may create an impression of inappropriate identity of the teacher, distancing herself or himself from the students. A lack of friendliness majorly focused on fear and respect might also be subject to this cause. Although in the short term, this might be beneficial for the teacher, in the long term, the student may not have positive feedback or instincts with the experience he or she has had.

Classrooms are also notoriously easy to be victim of compromising by the teacher. A compromise may occur in numerous forms but mostly through a systemic breakdown by the said teacher for specific goals and determinations. An example includes favoring a student who has ties close to the administration of the boarding school by offering the best seat of the room or punishing inappropriately to small flaws with big enlarged descriptions. When a classroom is compromised, it creates a disparity among the students themselves; those who are entitled to ensure the class remains in order out of fear to the teacher and those who are hurtful and resentful to the teacher’s actions. Both of these structures are not healthy for the overall condition of the class and without the teacher’s careful maintenance, may erupt to more complications and problems even towards the teaching mechanism itself.

These factors when add up along with other common aspects of daily life interactions which may seem normal for an outsider, could support more complications. These include eatery and dietary options and management by the school; which may prove a challenge to the student for religious reasons; consuming allergic products and lack of healthy meal plans. Coupled up, teachers at any boarding school surely pack more responsibilities than actually expected or rather demanded for its obvious reasons of more than just teaching.

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