By Ozma Siddiqui
Publication Date: 
Fri, 2001-05-04 05:03

SELDOM does a day go by without some news of teachers being beaten up by students or students’ parents or teachers inflicting inhuman treatment on their hapless students. Though much of the blame lies in poor parenting — where teacher-bashing is concerned — the teacher cannot be let off scot-free.

To begin with, many teachers embark on their careers with the wrong attitude. Good salaries, a comfortable workload and convenient working hours attract people from all walks of life — not to mention other professions! — to what is a highly respectable vocation. What these people overlook, however, is that the school is not just any workplace. It is in fact an important center for educating all aspects of a personality at the most crucial period of life — the growing years. And it’s the teacher, who holds sway over this “happening stage.” The teacher has the power to change the world, one child at a time.

At the same time, in order to do this, teachers must receive professional training; they must have a sound knowledge of various teaching methodologies and an awareness of child psychology. They should possess sound knowledge in their area of speciality and most important of all, have genuine concern for the young people with whom they are in daily contact. Unfortunately, very few teachers fulfill these conditions. As a result, absolute anarchy reigns and unethical behavior becomes the order of the day. The school goes to war with both parents and students and the centers of learning are obliged to settle disputes in court where teachers and students appear little better than common criminals.

One reason for this unprecedented state of affairs is that students have lost respect for teachers. They have ceased to regard the teacher as a source of knowledge because time and again, he and others have displayed what the students themselves know is ignorance. Students have been known to roll up their eyes in exasperation; many of them are on a different wavelength and teachers are simply unable to keep in step with them or even to be as informed as they are.

The bottom line is that teachers need to brush up on their skills at regular intervals and make a genuine effort to keep abreast of changes in education and in the world. So if the Net is the last word, perhaps teachers owning and using a computer is not a bad idea! Rather sadly, teachers have become oblivious to their impact upon society. Many a teacher has been caught out too often.

Like parents, teachers also need to be careful around students. The latter have acute powers of observation, tending to judge grownups by what they see and hear. Thus, it is best to leave domestic and marital problems at home. The school has not been designed for the relief of stress. In fact, make-up, waxing manicures and pedicures are better left to in beauty salons; it is also a good idea to avoid small talk within the hearing of students. Unfortunately, many teachers overlook this and the result is a slow but gradual erosion of the teachers’ position in the eyes of students.

A major problem with teachers is that many take up the profession half-heartedly. Financial incentive takes precedence over responsibility and where money rules, morals are thrown to the winds. In fact, many argue — probably rightly — that private tuition is a better and a faster source of income with the added advantage of the teacher’s being answerable to no one. What hope can there be then amid the fret and fury in this race for lucre?

Yet, we must remember that the student is the loser in the end. We adults, in the capacity of parents or teachers, are failing them in every respect. When their frustration boils over, and morals break down, what manifests itself is violence. Perhaps it’s time to revise our ideas and do our homework before stepping into the classroom. 

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