Teachers can make school a better place to learn

When I think back at my school days, the memories are not that pleasant. School days are the most important part of anybody’s life. School not only gives you education but in many ways teaches the way of life. A kid spends most of his time at School in a day. I was one of the kids who hated the thought of going to school. It’s unfortunate that I felt that way. Schools in India do not make life that easy for the kids.

Schools in India teach you lots of things other than providing education, competition, jealousy, frustration and hatred. India has one of the best curriculums in the world and one of the best basic educations but the implementation needs lot to be desired. The problem in India is that education is all about the marks and not the knowledge. The pressure on the students is enormous starting from a very early age.

Teachers don’t make life easy for the kids either. They punish, scream, humiliate and make life miserable for the kids who are not in their words “brilliant”. I never found a need to read someone’s marks out loud in front of the entire classroom. There was Botany teacher who actually hit the kids who failed with a cane when giving the papers. He not only did that for the kids who failed but also to someone who scored less than 50 (40 being the pass mark). Did he do that for the welfare of the kids? I will never know.

Some teachers are so predictable as at one point the kids are just resigned to the fact that this is what is going to happen if they don’t do something right. Some teachers get sadistic pleasure in punishing the kids. There was a teacher in my school who used to smile every time she hit someone. It was disgusting. I am not saying every teacher is like that but some of them are. The rage, the anger and the complete lack of rational thinking was something I noticed from some teachers during my school days.

I still remember the occasion when I was beaten and punished so badly for something I never did in the first place. This happened when my entire class was getting punished and we were asked to go to the school ground and run a couple of laps as a punishment. I had braces in my teeth at that time and I had the habit of touching my mouth all the times as it can be really painful. Our vice-principal at that time caught hold of me and started hitting me like anything thinking that I was covering my laugh. He never listened to what I had to say and made me kneel down entire day in front of my class.

My friends knew that I do that all the time but even if I had laughed, did I deserve such extreme punishment? I am not sure but few people might think I did. But I always felt that no one has to hit a kid to teach him/her a lesson. Well later that week I went over to his office to get permission to take a day off to meet my dentist and he realized his mistake and apologized to me, but I felt the damage was done. I guess there is something about few teachers in India which makes them a scary image for the students. They get angry easily and if they do, then only god can save the kids. Sometimes it feels like the teachers are like a volcano ready to erupt. They try to vent out all their frustration and anger at the first opportunity they get and unfortunately the students bear the brunt. Punishment can be without being physical and still be effective. It’s almost as if we learn as a kid that hitting someone is okay if they have done something wrong. That is hardly a good example for the kids to follow.

Teachers I feel need to be an inspiration for the kids, the people we look up to for knowledge and guidance. They need not be friends with the kids but have to be the people whom the kids respect. I felt that a good teacher always gets a better result from the kids. I have been out of school for about 12 years now and still when I think back I hardly have any pleasant memories from my days there. My father was a Bank employee and we had to move around a lot and for some reason I had same experiences throughout my school life wherever I was.

I don’t think that things have changed much in India as an 11 year old died after being punished by a teacher at school recently. This is atrocious and I hope that the authorities put to end such corporal punishments. School is not the place for someone to show their personal frustrations and anger. This is an unfortunate incident and my sympathies and prayers are with the beleaguered parents. I hope that parents take the kids seriously when they complain of abuse by the teacher and don’t ignore such things.

As far as I am concerned it doesn’t have to be that way. I was an average student at school, went through the system as a back bencher but did okay in the long run. I wouldn’t credit anyone other than my parents and the society we grow in for my success. Education is an important part of a person’s life and it doesn’t have to be a painful experience for kids.

Teachers are the important cogs in the wheel of our educational system and they can make learning a memorable experience for the kids. I am not against schools and obviously not against education but school shouldn’t be a place where the kids are scared to go. Teachers need a way to punish kids who are unruly but physical punishment isn’t an answer to it. Parents also need to get more involved in this process. If a child complains of a beating they have to confront the teacher and ask him/her whether they can help avoiding such things in the future. They have to realize that it’s not always the kids fault.

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