In loco parentis

Schools around the country have reopened after the summer and the new faces in the classroom have already grown familiar. You’ve eased back into the routine of lectures, quizzes, tests, corrections, childhood challenges, staffroom gossip, playground politics, and all the little details that make up the world of school. And you’ve also slipped back into the role of caring and giving to a new group of young people, taking on the role of responsible adult in that part of their lives that is lived inside school. This role perhaps also continues to play itself out in the child’s mind outside the boundaries of the classroom and school, so it is one that is not to be taken lightly. The way we walk and talk, the way we relate and build bridges, questions of authority and assertiveness, perceptions of right and wrong, are all drawn from a complex web of interactions we have with significant adults in our lives. When a teacher lifts a cane to chastise a student, he is stating very clearly that it’s okay to use violence to get a point across. When a teacher seats children according to their academic ranking, she is implying that position in society (of any kind) depends on certain kinds of parameters. When a teacher uses dialogue to negotiate points of view, she passes on the idea that we can talk about things to resolve differences, and when she creates mixed ability groups to work on projects or classroom activities she passes on the notion that it’s necessary (and possible) to relate to and work with different kinds of people. In the race to complete curriculum, we forget that these lessons too are imbibed in the classroom, and that we as significant adults in a child’s life play a big part in how these lessons are learned.

This issue of Teacher Plus considers the proliferation of preschools and “upgraded” day care centres where children have their first taste of organized learning. What do parents expect from these centres? Are they simply caregiving facilities or mini-prep schools for the real thing? While Ardra and Deepti spoke to proprietors and parents, Seetha Anand Vaidyam and Sheel looked at what these spaces need to provide from the teacher’s point of view. The Classroom Update in this issue looks at the issue of marginalization and how it can be made real in a civics or social studies lesson. And then we have the pot-pourri of activities and perspectives, as well as an extended debate on an issue that all schools and educationists are looking at keenly, the Right to Education.

Here’s wishing you a great scholastic year!

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