Changing equations between teachers and students

Professor talking to students at SPICE, Mumbai
Photo: © SPICE, Mumbai

“I do not want to teach in School A because they make their teachers work very hard. The teachers have to stay after school hours and assist the students in completing their homework and dissipate their doubts, if any…, “ confided Shalini to a friend, on the completion of her B.Ed. course.

“Where will you apply for a job, then?” asked her friend.

“I am keen to get in School B… The teachers in that school do not have to stay extra hours or bother about assisting the weaker students or sitting extra-time to clear doubts of the students. One can wrap everything by noon, and reach home by 12.30 pm.”

“Where do your own children study?”

“Of course, in School A. I want the best for my children. They complete all their homework in the school itself and I do not have to worry about their studies at all”, replied a nonchalant Shalini.

Teacher and students discussing lessons
Photo: © Our Lady of Mercy Hr Sec School, Aroor

This is precisely what is currently afflicting our world of education: the rising expectations and the changing equations.

The Parents want their children to learn as much as, and as perfectly as they can. They want them to be the toppers, go-getters, and super-achievers. However, if you ask the parents if they would like to bring about the desired miracle in society by being teachers themselves or by wishing that their children become teachers, their eyes roll unbelievably at such an outrageous suggestion!

The Teachers want their own children to have committed, intelligent, humble and sensitive teachers. However, if they are asked whether they are all of that themselves, the teachers too may roll their eyes, and embark on a tell-it-all session spanning hours about the pittance and lack of respect they get and the innumerable problems they face in the profession.

The Students want to rise, shine and be successful as swiftly and easily as possible. They want their parents to be perfect and their teachers to be the best. However, ask them if they ever think about how they could be the best or the perfect pupils in the classroom, they too probably would roll their eyes and point out that it is impossible to like all the subjects and be the perfect child at home, too. “After all, most of the teachers are quite boring and even ill-informed… Parents are not cool either and both — the teachers and the parents — simply irritate and never ‘understand’ the plight of the learners,” they might opine.

The equations have changed drastically in the past one decade. Not that all the relationships in this triangle are witnessing strains and stress. There are teachers who love and are passionate about teaching; there are parents who look upon teachers as partners, with whom they can collaborate while raising their kids; and there are students who love and adore both their parents and teachers. However, this percentage of those who shared healthy equations was much higher when lives were not as complex as they are now.

Neetu, now in her early forties, recalls nostalgically: “Mine was an ordinary school. The building was dilapidated. There was no playground worth the name… and neither were a library and a laboratory existent. When parents had exhausted their efforts at getting their wards admitted in any of the decent schools in the vicinity, they landed at our school. Being new entrants to the city — my parents had missed the crucial deadlines for gaining admission in a respectable school. I had to be admitted somewhere, and so there I was.

A few months in Grade I and my parents were in for a pleasant shock.

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Dr Navniit Gandhi
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Dr Navniit Gandhi

Dr Navniit Gandhi is a feature writer, academic, counsellor/trainer and an author. Her experiences in teaching/lecturing as well as in training young adults towards developing their soft skills span over more than two decades. She conducts comprehensive programmes for teenagers and youth, directed at developing personalities to the fullest. She has written more than 250 articles till date and authored seven books.