Takes a Village to Raise a Child….
And yet we insist that the entire burden be borne by the teacher community!
A cousin’s five and a half year old granddaughter, on a visit, said that she wanted to play the teacher game. She would be the teacher and the eight of us who were gathered there would be her students. It was a delightfully engaging drama wherein the little one comfortably slipped into the role of the seasoned teacher instructing us students to sing a rhyme, repeat the sounds of the alphabet after her, and mime the actions. She did it slowly and steadily with the right amount of eye contact, encouraging us all to imitate her… and chiding those who failed to follow suit. It was a treat to watch because she switched effortlessly from Hindi rhymes to English rhymes. When some of the reluctant adults lapsed into conversation, having tired of the game, the little one, raising her voice, demanded, “Do you think this is a fish market? Why are you making so much noise?” Even as the adults chuckled, she continued, “When you come to school, you have to study!” There was an earnestness in her voice that was very refreshing.
The child’s teacher had clearly established routines and rules in her classroom because there was no hesitation on the part of the child while doing the activity or even when cleverly switching to a transition activity. The language was confident and the body language was truly magnificent. The child had undoubtedly imbibed the positive qualities of the teacher, setting the tone and pace for a class. The child was the perfect teacher because she also had the perfect teacher! When an audience encourages such children, what they are actually doing is lauding the teacher… and children sense this! And that is where And then they lived happily ever after… actually begins! The signals that we emit to our children in their early years form their attitudes towards teaching and their teachers.
Teaching is a trying profession because you are under the microscope all the time; the microscope size and type varies because principals, the other staff members, your own students, children who are not yet your students, and parents are constantly examining you to ascertain whether you are doing the right thing, and more importantly if you have said anything WRONG! Quite a challenge, but as teachers, if we promise ourselves that we will be mindful of our language, we will be respected for being that teacher who did not contribute towards a distorted perspective of life… and that speaks volumes!
Today the world believes that we are all meant to be different from one another and no child should be compared to another because it gives them a complex. How will this same child who decides to opt for a teaching career then cope with life when comparisons are being made all the time of how one teacher appears, teaches, grades, conducts himself/herself, etc.? Doctors and lawyers get paid more but no one spends so much time analyzing the quality of service they deliver. Teachers get paid far less, and yet the newspapers splash stories of their inadequacy, their incompetence…, everything under the sun.
Teachers have their own bag of problems. Although everyone is firmly convinced that Kindergarten is where the blossoming takes place, schools are not really looking for competent and qualified teachers there because they feel that the teacher is after all handling a three and half year old, and how demanding can that be?
The author is a teacher educator and language trainer based in Hyderabad. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.