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TEACHING IN TODAY'S TIMES

Teaching

In recent times, with newspapers carrying incidences of teachers who resort to harsh corporal punishment to maintain discipline in class, I can’t but help remembering Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s words, “The future of a nation is being shaped in her classroom!”

If you delve deep, you will discover the problem at the grass-root level. With a population that continues to burst at the seams, is it fine to follow traditional and puritanical methods of teaching and managing a classroom? While unscrupulous builders and corrupt politicians thrive, the noblest profession is given a step-motherly treatment. Even the little girls and boys who aspire to become teachers, change their minds in later years, and choose lucrative professions. Why is it so? And what’s wrong in their opting for lucrative professions, when this profession of shaping minds offers a pittance as salary?

An unruly generation, irate parents, frustrated grandparents, wrong role-models, lack of adequate play-time and hobbies, shift the onerous burden of managing a class of 60 students on a single teacher’s hands! While discussing with a group of parents, one remarked, “But teachers are trained to manage a large class. They cannot resort to corporal punishment.”

True, teachers during their training were trained to manage a cross-section of children, but are they paid their due? Moreover, with the so called education system in place, is it possible to teach in an unstructured manner?

There are a few solutions however. These if applied, I’m sure will improve the plight of teachers, parents and most importantly, children!

The reasons for teachers opting for corporal punishments may vary, the common ones being that children are unruly, talkative, slow-learners or stubborn. From a child’s point of view, do you think today’s children enjoy childhood? Latch-key children return to an empty home. Children placed in crèches have poor role-models. Even stay-at-home mothers and grandparents are too busy or frustrated to communicate with them. A child’s average day begins with queries regarding his progress, homework, tuitions and hobby classes and ends with that. Thus this child brimming with unbridled enthusiasm vents it in class with class-mates, even as the teacher engages in a monotonous monologue.

Teachers can do a lot to ease the situation. What are Value-education classes meant for? These classes are nothing but sessions where teachers point out what is right and what is wrong. Teaching a class of 7 year olds not to steal, will only lead them indulging in the vice! Instead why not turn this class into an interesting one with children sharing their ideas and teachers just listening? A topic pertaining to their age can be given, and children can be encouraged to talk and share their opinions. In such an unstructured environment, even the shyest child will be encouraged to share. The boldest will learn to listen and understand. Latent talents come to the fore; children can learn soft-skills and this can be a fun-filled time. Teachers too on their part will gain an insight into the lives of these children.

But, when the aim is to complete portions, where is the real value of education delivered? I’ve heard of schools where during value-education classes, remaining portions are completed, even General Knowledge is taught! Why then make a sham of such a class? A three year old is considered smart if he successfully blabbers the names of countries and the capitals! Play-schools proudly present to parents their curriculum wherein their child will be taught all the facts of nations, names of exotic fruits, vegetables etc which will certainly secure them admission in the best of schools!

How many schools undertake the responsibility of grooming the personality? How many playschools teach the basics of manners, courtesy and basic conversation skills? Where are life-skills, personality development taught? Ultimately, the class-topper always remains the topper; the bold few always remain in the spotlight, with the vast majority not even knowing where they stand. There’re schools which don’t bother with the task of molding ‘disinterested’ students in a vocation or hobby. Have teachers found out what can be done with delinquents, the shy ones and the slow-learners?

Also, how many teachers have chosen this profession because teaching is their passion? If you look around, ‘teaching’ seems to be an easily available career! So, when one’s resume is rejected in other fields, arming oneself with a Bachelor’s in Education and securing a job in the nearest school has become a solution!

Delve deep and you’ll discover how erroneous even teaching methods are. Senior teachers stick to their safe and tested practice of lecturing; and for juniors, this profession is just a stop-gap before landing a job in a multinational! Enthusing children, encouraging them, leading them by example are all left on the backburner, with the singular aim being completion of the syllabus.

Parents too caught in the rat-race of prodding children to excel in every subject, overlook the finer aims of real education. Ultimately, what we have, at hand, is a generation of frustrated children stuffed with irrelevant knowledge and devoid of wisdom. How true are Pandit Nehru’s words!

If we cannot maximize a child’s potential, at least let’s not minimize it!
Published: 2008-09-26
Author: Shubhrata Shankar

About the author or the publisher
I've been a professional freelance writer and writing among other things, has been my passion. I work from home and have the facility of a PC. Apart from writing, I'm also a Professional Feng Shui Practitioner and Tarot card reader, with 6 years experience. I'd love to write on family issues, self-improvement topics and on emotions. I hold a degree in Psychology from Mumbai University. I'd love to hear from you soon. Thanking you. Shubhrata Shankar

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