Toothless teachers, tough students
Reasonable checks at school by both parents and teachers are necessary.
Parents and teachers have been the epitome of human respect and dignity since time immemorial. No matter whether a child is impressive or a rogue, he is his dignified best before them. The mother has always been the pivotal force and an emotional epicentre for any human being. The Hindi oldies have depicted this serene emotion beautifully hundreds of times. The famous dialogue "Mere Paas Maa Hai" of the Bollywood blockbuster Deewar became the symbol of India's rich culture. A. R. Rahman in his Oscars speech quoted the same portraying India's ethnic richness. The news items surfacing of late show that times have changed since recently, a sixteen-year-old murdered his mother and sister with his cricket bat, pizza cutter, and scissors. This came like a nightmare and to everybody's horror, it was a real incident.
This not an isolated incident. Last September two class XII students stabbed their teacher when he didn't allow them to take the examination due to short attendance. The teacher later succumbed to the injury in the hospital. In November, a report shook the town of Bahadurgarh, Haryana when a student brutally beat the teacher at school because he got less marks in Mathematics. The entire incident was caught on cameras in the school. Most infamous of them all is the recent incident of a Gurugram school boy murdering a seven-year-old in the school premises. A similar incident happened in a government school of Faridabad a year earlier. Molestation of young girls in the school, toilets, playgrounds, and school buses by senior boys has become common for the newspaper headlines.
It is a matter of shame that our society has come to its extreme lowness. Today India is gradually replacing the west in terms of the degree of crime. That is why the Juvenile Justice Board has decided to consider the minor accused as an adult.
It is time to introspect. Who is to blame for this sudden splurge in the heinous crime rate? Who is snatching away the childhood of our children? Is it the disintegration of the joint family system, influence of television and internet, lack of time, availability of easy funds or uncontrolled freedom? It is that such incidents happen overnight? They are the reflection of our changing society. According to psychologist Vikas Attry, "our society is undergoing a huge churning, the vibrations of which can be felt at school levels but we prefer not to move by it, like an ostrich prefers to bury his head under sand if it encounters an enemy pretending he has seen none, only to be killed later". He adds that emotions are gradually becoming dead because we are feeding our young ones too much attention and never saying no to them. The younger generation is not used to hear a 'no' for their demands, no matter how vague they may be.
Most of the Government schools do not have adequate infrastructure and human resources. The hyper-skewed pupil to teacher ratio often leads to neglect and students derail before time. The teachers are equipped with no tools to counter them but to surrender to their temperament and mood swings. The greatest sage and teacher Chanakya proposed four cardinal methods namely Saam, Daan, Dand, Bhed in order to get the work done.
The concept of Dand has totally been wiped out from the present education system. Dand is not corporal punishment but the sense of abiding by the responsibilities given, be it towards the parents, teachers or institutions. In today's times, a teacher is equipped with no tool to perform this responsibility among the students. There is a huge void between what is said in the rule books and what practicality demands. It is said that every child is special, but the schools are actually becoming marks-minting factories. Teachers are more into training rather than educating as this is what the unwritten rule of their service books demand.
Counselling has become synonymous with giving them extra attention which they want to grab if not through legitimate action then through mischief. The problem aggravates in the small towns where the parents are semi-literate or illiterate. The stubbornness of the child plays merry hell in front of the timid personality of the parents. The upbringing of a child leads to additional problems as it always keeps the parents in constant fear as the former might take a wrong step of harming himself resulting in the latter surrendering in front of their young ones. This universal mode of surrender from the parents and teachers gives them an edge and make them attention seeking individuals. They are unduly pampered and all their demands are met. 'Break-up, move-on, one night stand, so-what, bottoms-up, smoke it out' have become the part of school-goers lingo. Defiance of a child is not curtailed but celebrated in.
Today, the education sector is flooded with advisories for educators, each one hosting a new diktat and hundreds of 'don'ts' rather than focusing on the 'dos'. We are forgetting that these children are the future workforce and entrepreneurs. How will they cope with the brutal realities of life and work? After a decade or two, this generation will probably become numb to emotion as acceptance for each and everything is gradually becoming a part of their lives. We as the society do not understand that we are applying a wrong solution to this problem. Instead of the Juvenile Justice Board considering the child as an 'adult', the school should consider them as one and take the necessary actions before it's too late. Children are attaining maturity at an early age; this fact still remains indigestible to the society at large. Some intellectuals accept this but prefer to remain neutral.
The need of the hour is to equip teachers with methods to curtail and counter the uncontrolled rage and demands of the students at the school level before society begins to bear the brunt of it. Restricting the role of an educator is like expecting one to prepare a divine cuisine without using a knife. Small amercements at school are beneficial for the larger good of students. Sanctions at the school levels both by parents and teachers are necessary for exonerations later in life. This beautiful couplet from Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar' the Rashtrakavi (National Poet) of India summarises the current situation of teachers and beautifully narrates the expiate: 'Kshama shobhati us bhujung ko jiske paas garal ho, usko kya jo dantheen vishrahit vineet saral ho'.
(The author is an educationist. The views expressed are strictly personal)