Sometimes, it’s not about those who don’t, but about those who do

Anumeha Fatehpuria

“Being a teacher is not easy… we have the double responsibility of looking after and teaching children and half the rights their parents have in every other aspect of their lives. When parents and teachers come together, they create a sacred triangle of love, affection, care, and learning, which can help children not only be their magnificent selves, but also stay safe and happy as they grow.

In the recent times with everyone enraged and confused, I felt this post must be written and shared immediately. I have had the privilege of interacting with so many fabulous parents I hope they see this too. Stay safe.”

I just posted this a little while ago on a social networking website, but I did so in a hurry. I am sharing some more thoughts as I feel I did not do justice to my train of thought.

Let me start by saying that I’m a teacher and learner by profession. I teach children to provide for my bills and learn from them to provide for my hungry mind and heart. I have been following the recent heinous crimes against children, the most recent one – a child molested in school – committed by people of my profession. It’s disgusting and shameful. I also saw photos of protests, posts by various people about this, and mentions of sting operations on schools too!

I grew up in a large family with all ‘parents’ of the family working. I spent a lot of time with cousins, household help and tutors. I was safe and protected with all of them. One might say, “You were lucky”, but no. I have been ‘unlucky’ at times, but with all of the above and especially with my tutors, I was looked after. My tutors – and I’ve had many – both male and female in their late 20s – were like parents to me. They would scold me, check me, explain patiently, negotiate with me and love me all to get me to study. Not a single teacher I had whether inside or outside school ever hurt me like we have been seeing recently.

I’ve worked in a few schools over the last 10 years and I’ve been privileged to have a beautiful environment with wonderful and responsible colleagues to work with. And it is in these few years that I have witnessed the extreme faith and trust between the school management, teachers, parents, children and all those who come together to make “learning” happen.

And while I feel there should be no mercy shown to people who sexually abuse children, I was shocked to learn that maybe that’s what it’s come down to – “Sting Operations on Schools and Teachers”.

But why?

I wonder what would have happened if our parents did that too. I wonder how a responsible and loving teacher would feel if a sting operation was conducted on him/her and later found out that he/she was being video-taped; how it would break him/her.

those-who-do
A school is supposed to be a safe zone not only for children, but for all those who work there:
Teachers who chose this job perhaps over other high paying glamorous opportunities for the love of learning and children, and because they believe in creating a nurturing environment for children so they may grow up to become successful and sensitive men and women.

School ayaahs who keep the school clean, look after the children and also wash them when they soil themselves. Guards who stand in sun and rain scrutinizing every person approaching the school gate making sure no harm comes to those within its premises, smiling and welcoming the children in the morning, waving them goodbye when they leave.

I remember when I was little and would get off the school bus, I would innocently, but purposely, jump into a puddle and the bus conductor would get angry and say in broken Hindi and Bangla “Uff! Kyun kiya? … Ab tumhara mummy tumko bokega!” (Why did you do that? Now your mummy will scold you). I would grin at him showing whatever teeth I had then and his frown would immediately turn into a grin and shaking his head from left to right he would quickly wave goodbye as the bus would turn the corner.

We all work in schools not just for money, but for the love of those toothless grins, naughty hands, trusting eyes, and the respect we receive from parents and others around us.

When I saw pictures of the protest against this particular teacher and school on a social media website I wondered if any teachers had participated in them and if no why, and if yes, why wasn’t that mentioned?

I don’t know every little detail there is to know about the incident but I do know that sting operations, placards with harsh words written in children’s hands and mistrust is not the way to go. That too is abusive towards the children.

Having said that, I understand how horrific and deeply hurtful this is for the child. But I would like to pick one more thought from my brain and one more feeling from my heart and bring them together here to say thank you to all the teachers who have loved me, scolded me, corrected me, encouraged me, and helped me become a better person.

This sharing is not about those who don’t, it’s about those who do; enable children to hold their shoulders up, keep their heads high, and their hearts in the right place while growing up and even when they are grown up.

The author is a contemporary crafts designer at Prishth, which she founded. She is a certified Montessori teacher, an education consultant and performance storyteller. She loves teaching art with a difference where children learn to express their own ideas by tapping their imagination. She can be reached at anumeha.fatehpuria@gmail.com.