Monday, November 27, 2006

Mind it, teacher!

"I hate Hindi ma'am... " is the new refrain at our dinner table.

"She pinches... and hits," says my daughter. Everyone? "Yes, but she hits me more. Because she gives a lot of work and I can't complete it in one period".

For a day or two I thought it was one of those things... it would pass. But today, Nivedita declared she would rather change her school than attend Hindi period with this ma'am. I really will have to do something. But what?

Yes, I will go and meet the principal but will he really take action? There's always the secret fear that your child will end up being treated worse after you complain.

People talk about bad bosses, but there is nothing quite as cruel as a bad teacher. The power a teacher has over a young mind is immense. And this power is often abused by those who are not temperamentally or attitudinally suited to the job.

Teachers who, in fact, see their jobs as mere jobs. And not a responsibility which comes with some sacred covenants.

And parents, who leave no stone unturned to admit their child to a good school. The 'best' school. Who's to say that every teacher in that school is competent as well as sensitive? Because all it takes is one Hindi ma'am...

And all said and done, parents are in a weak position. We pay for the services of a school, we form part of the community. But in most schools, we have little say in the way things are done. Or not done.

The attitude is,"If you have problems here, feel free to take your child elsewhere." Because there are enough contenders for that forsaken seat.

And the same problems pretty much plague schools everywhere. Not municipal schools or government schools but private schools, brand name schools as well.

The Hindi ma'am problem started when the original Hindi teacher - a very personable lady - suddenly quit to join a rival school. In mid-session. Since then there have been 3 different teachers, creating anxiety and confusion.

As one teacher elaborates,"Schools don't want to hire us on a permanent basis. They take in teachers on contract - for 3 months, 6 months." So teachers too have no qualms hopping around. And often, no choice either.

In this merry-go-round, secondary school teachers end up teaching primary kids. Both kinds of teaching require different skills. And completely different levels of patience.

When the school is charging parents a fairly large fee, I see no reason why it should shortchange it teachers - and students - in this manner.

If things do not change, I am wholly willing to yank my daughter out of this school. The question is, are the other choices any different? I guess that is a question that can be answered only after a great deal of R & D.

If the answer remains "no", then the only consolation is "we survived". So will she. It makes me really sad. And mad. But do I have the energy to fight it?


  1. Anonymous10:18 PM

    1. speak with other parents (to get to those who have similar complaints)
    2. form a group, visit the school and discuss with principal (and the teacher if possible).

    easier said than done; but group representation adds credibility and ensures one kid is not singled out for retaliatory treatment.

  2. In my view, I think it is better to convince the child that the teacher is good , and maybe, talk to the teacher instead of the principal....My niece had a similar pblm...Sometimes, the child gets too scared and forms a notion...It may be a good point to convince the child (yeah, it is difficult!) rather than take it to the principal.

  3. Anonymous8:39 AM

    Your fears are exaggerated.Teaching has become a thankless job these days- financially and otherwise too. Your daughter is not the only one in the class and parents nowadays have become so paranoid that they fear of teachers who have 'immense control' over the children. Some teachers may be bad- undoubtedly but to draw so much from a non-issue- unwarranted.

  4. Just wondering, if the teaching profession has such wide-reaching effects, why aren't teachers paid handsomely? How much is the average salary of a senior school teacher these days?


  5. When were students ever treated decently? It is all a question of supply and demand. Even in IIM's, the staff of the college behaves badly though a phenomenal amount of money is paid by the students and students end up doing the work which the staff is supposed to do. "Education" is a "commodity" which is in severe shortage and obviously this is bound to happen. The same thing happens in hospitals also though the payments are sky high.

    On another note, since it is a daughter, I guess there is no need to worry. All that she has to go is get through the damn process and get married and suck the blood out of the poor husband. And the laws of the land have legally empowered women to suck the husbands blood.

  6. Anonymous11:09 AM

    I remember, once when my sister(in 2nd std) came back home with the mark of a slap on her cheek from a teacher (who had such a reputation), my mom, sent back a note to the teacher saying, pls send me notes/complains about my child but donot touch my child with your hand. Thereafter needless to say, her calender book was full of complains for the whole academic year with all kinds.

    I think slapping, pinching, hitting on the head etc are all violent means of treating a young child. You are not punishing the child but abusing your freedom to mould a child. And these traits leave a long lasting effect on a child. The child is going to use a pinch or slap as the next measure to get back at a sibling or friend or elders. This behaviour should not be acceptable under any circumstances, under any pretext.

    There might be paranoid parents and there are children who might be scared but also, there are children who cant do as well as the rest, there are average and below average kids, there are kids who cannot pronounce well, kids who cannot draw well(myself :)), kids who arent sports stars.... physical violence is no way to encourage a child to do better.

    And lastly, I dont think by increasing the salary of a teacher, the quality or methodology is going to change because that is the capability of a person. You get paid better for a better performance, you dont get paid to perform better.

  7. You can consider home schooling

  8. Or do you have the time and energy to home school your kid?

    I am one of those unfortunate kids who got picked by teachers because I didn't fare well with the marks. One of those unfortunate kids who was punished without any proper rationalization. And I can go on. And every time some asks me of my schooling experience I think of finding those each and every teacher who, smacked me, slapped me, pinched me, called me funny names in front of some 60 other kids, and stick bombs up their ass and see them explode.

    A mature adult does not really do what I feel like doing. But sure do plan to visit my school one day and tell those morons to leave the kids alone.

    Kids some times are innocent and some times are brats, in either case they are kids and should be dealt with utmost patience.

    And yes there is a dilemma of taking your kid out from a so-called "good" school and you putting him/her to another so-called "good" school but the best school is home. But I doubt this phenomenon will catch like a fire in India, at least not for a while.

  9. Anonymous12:35 AM

    Obviously you need to take action, Rashmi! That its common doesn't make it any less deplorable. This practice of hitting children continues only because parents don't do anything about it.
    Definitely talk to the principal, in a group would be good but even alone should be ok. Corporal punishment is illegal in india & legally you can charge the teacher with assault. While you may not actually do this for obvious reasons, mentioning this to the principal may not be a bad idea at all. Hitting students was not very uncommon in my school at my time but it has completely stopped now after a group of parents recently made a big issue about it.
    If you are otherwise happy with the school, changing your child's school would be running away from injustice instead of fighting it. India has so many problems which we can do little about, but this is one area, where, trust me you can make a difference.

  10. Anonymous10:19 AM

    As far as I am concerned we should tell the child that the teacher is good if we tell the child that the teacher is bad he would never go to school because of the fear of teacher and would create a bad impression in his mind that each and every teacher is bad.


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