On the occasion of Teachers’ Day we speak to parents who double up as their children’s teachers in school

Mark and Christina Fernandes face the greatest test to their relationship. Christina is Mark’s mother and his class teacher too. When Christina, a social science and English teacher at MCC Campus School, was placed in charge of his class this year, Mark was over the moon with delight. But this Class VI student has now discovered the downside of having a parent as one’s teacher.

“Mark’s classmates sometimes complain about him to me just to see my reaction. The challenge is to be fair to the other children and, at the same time, not mete out undeserved punishment to Mark just to appear to be a paragon of fair play. When such a complaint is brought to me, I question Mark in front of the others and, if found guilty, he is punished exactly the way any other kid would be. The advantage of being a parent-teacher is that you can see through deception in your child,”says Christina. “When he is reprimanded by any other teacher, in my presence, I don’t interfere. In every possible way, I let him know that at school, I am ‘Christy miss’ and not his mom.”

Sashirekha, who teaches French to higher secondary students, including her younger daughter Subhiksha, at Good Shepherd Higher Secondary School, points out that the child, and not the parent-teacher, bears the brunt of such dynamics.

“When a student excels in a subject taught by his/her parent, he/she is likely to be dogged by snide remarks by his classmates,” says Sashirekha. Christina adds, “For the parent-teacher whose child performs well, it is a tightrope walk. Even if your child is proven good in something, your words of praise have to be measured.”

Principal Saira Banu empathises with Christina’s predicament, because she has done a similar tight-rope walk. “In a particular maths examination, my son Glen Joel scored a hundred, ahead of a bunch of other equally bright students who missed the mark by a whisker. Concealing these students’ identities and my son’s, I had their papers re-evaluated by my colleagues. After they agreed that the marking was perfect, I revealed the identities of the students,” says Saira.

Discussing another dimension to the issue, Sashirekha says, “Then, there is the pressure to show results, first of all, in your own children. When I taught mathematics to Subiksha and my older daughter Varsha, I acutely felt this burden. To my disappointment, they were not as interested in mathematics as they were in the other subjects.”

So, the next time you see a child walk into a classroom with his parent, spare a thought of kindness for both!