Frayed bonds: The erosion of sacred bonds in teacher-student relationships in modern education

Ramjee Nagarajan

It saddens me everytime I read reports of transgressions and wrong deeds of fellow educators. What’s even more troubling is the fact that these behaviours are slowly beginning to be seen as the norm. It’s disheartening to see the spread of such emotions or ideas affecting the impressionable minds of young students. Unfortunately, this has led to a significant decline in the quality of interactions between teachers and students. Many teachers I have had the pleasure of working with in the last three decades, still treat their students as if they were their own children, as cherished protégés, and often go great lengths to nurture their minds. This includes offering guidance, gentle persuasion, encouragement, and sometimes even taking on nurturing gestures like adjusting attire, helping with socks, and assisting with footwear.

Sadly, the students don’t reciprocate these sentiments, thanks to the impact of mass media sensationalizing occasional misconduct by certain educators. This has instilled in them scepticism towards all teachers. Recently, a fellow educator recounted a touching story of a young, pregnant sports instructor. Despite her delicate condition, she continued working, bearing the physical strain that likely resulted in swollen limbs. While it’s common to see teachers helping students during sports, like changing shoes or offering a leg massage, when a student returned the same gesture, it was unfairly interpreted as an attempt to exploit the child’s innocence.

A few evenings back, a 6th grade student, possibly influenced by the counsel of caring parents, gave me a note asking for quick action against a teacher. This teacher had scolded him and his friends in front of others, tarnishing his reputation. The note imposed upon me a pressing ultimatum, giving me no time to wait.

During Teacher’s Day, our school witnessed a pen-palooza as almost every student showered their favourite teachers with pens. A young male teacher, who handles primary classes, accepted these pens, and in a generous twist, used them as rewards for correct answers in the following class. When the parents of a 4th grade girl questioned how she acquired her new pen, she proudly replied, “Sir gifted it!” This triggered concern, prompting the parents to rush into my (the principal’s) office to inquire about this unusual behaviour.

The once-revered bond between teachers and students has sadly lost its lustre. As a devoted educator, it pains me deeply, my heart bleeds. To what depths have we fallen? How have we reached this point? Where do we go from here? While this might sound like the rants of an old man, I earnestly seek guidance from the wise experienced educators in this magazine. I value your insights into this evolving landscape.

The author is serving as principal in a private school. He distinguishes himself as an environment educator. Beyond his professional endeavours, he exhibits a broad spectrum of interests, including photography, Indology, iconography, cycling, and running marathons. As the leader of a school, he embodies a holistic approach to education and personal growth, contributing significantly to diverse fields of his students’ interests.

Leave a Reply