"Swati, don't you have school today?" "I have, but I didn't go. Aunty, please, can you help me? In my previous school the teachers were kind and they loved us. I want to go back there. But, Mamma says this is where I have to study now."

Swati's father was transferred to Chennai by end of June this year and so she missed her classes for about a month. Poor girl, she had to copy a whole lot of work, though she is only in class three.

Swati is working long hours to complete her work on time, even forgoing her playtime. When I spoke to Swati's mother Bhuvana about my chat with Swati, she also expressed her anxiety about her daughter's reluctance to go to school.

Bhuvana feels that teachers at times insult the children by making harsh remarks such as " I don't want to hear your nonsense, ask your mother to meet me, " "Tomorrow, if you don't bring the book I will throw you out, " Don't tell lies, I will beat you."

These wounding words discourage Swati to go to school. Every morning she complains of some pain or ache and stays back at home. There are hundreds of Swatis and children of different age groups have different problems.

Teachers as role models

Primary and middle school students adore their teachers. For them, the teachers' word is golden. A few kind words from the teacher make them do anything. All children are born innocent, but many Swatis are made by us - parents, teachers and elders. Ashok, a Class XII student is struggling to keep pace with his peers. At home, he faces an intense pressure from parents to perform well in his boards. His parents are busy with their professional commitments and hardly have any time for him. But they are very particular about his result. He has to bottle up all his emotions since he has no one at home to listen to his feeling. All schools these days concentrate on the so-called centum result in the Board exams. When a setback is found in the students in academics, they are punished. For some, these punishments are also futile.

Shaping the children

In such cases, sending the child out of the school is not the only solution. A different approach is needed - take one step further to identify the child's real problem, to know his family and what he lacks from his parents and siblings. Teachers should always be careful about the way they speak to their students and the way they handle them.

Corporal punishments are banned these days. But insulting and humiliating words are worse. Words and actions of the teacher are imprinted in young minds and these scars remain forever. Instead, if only moral values, good thoughts and positive attitudes are instilled at a young age there will be no criminals in society.

Children come from different environments and backgrounds. They have different natures and habits. As teachers, we can tap their hidden talents, suitably nurture their potential and make them excel in the respective fields. If children are handled without discrimination there will be no child branded "bad boy" or a "bad girl".

Never rub a child on the wrong side and make him or her lose self-esteem and self-confidence. The saying goes, "Today's children are tomorrow's citizens" and teachers have a major role in making them worthy of society.

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