A vicious circle

Prasuna Balantrapu

Recent mishaps at certain schools with parents blaming the school for them are unfortunate. Mobs beating up the principal and teachers only take these sordid reactions to the extreme. Can we hold the school responsible for everything that happens within the premises? To what extent is the school management responsible? This Catch 22 situation must force every educationist and school administrator to look into the roots of the problem.

Once a child enters school, the safety and well-being of the child become the school’s responsibility. But this is not possible without the complete cooperation of parents and the society. Schools are part of the society and therefore, cannot function independently. The class teacher who has autonomy in the class is the only person who can directly be in touch with the child, understand and empathize with him/her. But in the numerous corporate schools sprouting everywhere, the number of students per class is as many as 40 to 50. With a teacher’s working hours stretching to 28-32 hours every day, it is extremely difficult to reach each of the 40 children and take care of their psychological and emotional growth.

things-to-thinkA teacher’s role too has changed today. From a care giver and someone who imparts knowledge, a teacher today is seen mainly as a ‘producer’ of first rank students. And not just the school, even the parents thrust the responsibility of academic success, defined by maximum marks, on the teacher. No longer are schools knowledge centers but ‘production houses’, where the teacher is accountable for the child’s marks.

This scenario puts pressure on the teacher to perform according to the demands of the school. The false sense of competition and success has made both the teacher and the student a victim. The marks-oriented approach forces the teacher to turn a blind eye to everything else. The child is pushed to achieve marks and failure means punishment. So heartless is the system that illness is considered as a method to escape the constant drill and pressure and so is unpardonable. The child is made to feel guilty for falling ill.

The teacher’s role is now monitored by economic factors. Schools, after all, cater to the needs and demands of society. Parents demand a child with excellent scores and the school tries to give them one. Branding the child and judging him/her is the ugly outcome of this system.

The school management, parents and teachers need to rethink and review this situation. We need to understand the primary goal of the school and strive to encourage and impart knowledge instead of manufacturing robots. The schedule and time of the teacher should be planned to accommodate the interaction with the child and understand his/her needs. A good teacher can inspire a child to achieve his best and not simply to score high marks.

The author is an English language teacher in Vijayawada. She can be reached at prasuna.balantrapu@gmail.com.