The Missing X Factor

“If this is one helluva school, why have we not broken into the Big League? Fifty years of sifting and nurturing talent in Trivandrum, and none of international repute,” observed Rajkin in his article on Loyola’s Specialness. I invited Vijayaraghavan V (1993 ISC) to share his thoughts on why Loyola does not produce stars and whether schooling has anything to do with it.

This is the second in the Reflections on Schooling series. Featuring guest posts by Loyolites, the series aims to deepen our understanding of ourselves and Loyola.


VijaySpecialness


To say that each of us is proud of being a Loyolite and to an extent positively arrogant about it, is no surprise. After moving out of the school I have many a time tried to objectively assess the greatness of this school. One of the parameters that many would use is the number of influential or famous alumni who have passed from  the institution. In a way, it also means the number of alumni who have been able to make a significant impact in society and in turn are recognised by society.

Closer home in India, two of the institutions which are known for their influential alumni are the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in the business space and the St Stephen’s College, Delhi in the political and bureaucratic domains. (I have not taken an example from schools for want of authentic data.) Where would Loyola rank against this measurement index? Probably very low.

While it can be argued whether there is a need for this kind of measurement, it can be reasonably concluded that Loyola does not figure highly in this index. The next obvious question would be the reason for the same. Loyola, as a school, provides the basics of education and values very efficiently and this sets it apart from other schools in the area and region. In terms of academic results, it ensures that the students perform well above the average. Over a period, this became a tradition and got institutionalised. Typical role models when I grew up in the school were the “Best Loyolites,” who went on to become engineers and doctors, some of them going for higher studies abroad and settling down there.

Typically, students who become stars or influential in the positive way, are ones who have the X factor and have the ability to go beyond the known in whatever way. As a school, Loyola does not seem to instill that trait in any specific manner nor is there a history of former students who the current crop can look up to. Loyola does produce good and amazing students, but it does not produce students with the trained ability to be influential or become famous. A few exceptions have not helped change that view. I do, however, endorse the argument that a school’s responsibility is not to make star students and that there are many things beyond the school environment which leads to greatness and fame.

So the question still returns – Is Loyola just another school? Certainly not. For students who studied there, it will continue to be the most defining and enriching experience they have had. In more ways than one, it has shaped what we turned out to be in the future. But for all the values and basics the school has instilled in us, I certainly do not feel that Loyolites need to feel they are more talented or skilled than others. This certainly is not the case and facts do not support that in any way.

Do we want to take Loyola to a level where the alumni are spoken of as one among the most influential people? If the answer is yes, then apart from many other things, there needs to be awareness that there is a big chaotic world which exists, beyond the Loyola School and Trivandrum, where the students are expected to participate in the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vijayaraghavan V (1993 ISC) is Vice President – Business Development at Emcure Pharmaceuticals in Pune. Read his blog Simple Thoughts.

(c) Vijayaraghavan V 2013

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Reflections on Schooling series of articles