Those of us in the teaching community should be proud of choosing a career which helps to mould the future global citizens. The ‘master stroke’ in the sketch of a child’s life is provided by the teacher. There are also other stakeholders such as parents, peer group, neighbours, relatives etc.
When a dedicated preceptor tries to nurture the dreams of students, negativism from different directions can mar this process. Both parents and teachers should work in tandem, for they have an equal stake in the child’s well-being and holistic growth. Many parents don’t understand this. However, if the teacher is tactful, the situation can be managed well and catapulted towards the progressive direction.
Let me illustrate with a situation I faced recently. As ours is a residential school, every staff member participates in numerous activities of our school. Besides heading the school, I too get plenty of opportunities to spend time with our students, especially during early mornings and the evening games time. As an N.I.S (National Institute of Sports) trained coach, I teach tennis and table tennis to the children in our school. A boy in class 8 had been demonstrating an increasing interest in tennis. However, his father was apprehensive of his scholastic performance in a few subjects. As a result, he forcibly took away his son’s tennis racquet and consequently banned him from tennis. The boy continued to come to the tennis court during his games period and watched helplessly as the other students played. Sometimes he borrowed a racquet from his friend to play. His father requested me to force him to study even during the evening games time.
I did understand the parent’s concern though he was unreasonably harsh. As a Principal, I couldn’t disregard the father’s wishes, but at the same time, my heart went out to the poor student who, in a short span of time, had mastered the nuances of tennis. How can I strike a balance between these two – the father and the son?
There are only two options: to allow him to play, or to force him to study while sacrificing tennis. I called this particular student, looked straight into his eyes and said in a stern voice, “Look son, I will not allow you to play tennis as long as you lag behind in studies. I will give you two weeks time within which, you have to ask for retest from the teachers in whose subjects you got low marks and prove your mettle.”
Within the time frame, to the surprise of a few teachers, this student started working with verve and vigour and did well in all retests. I called him and appreciated his determination. As a conservative parent, his father may not permit him to play tennis again. He may not permit, only if he comes to know of it. Many unsung heroes were dumped in obscurity due to the negligence of the parents or the teachers. Why should I deprive the student the chance of becoming another Leander Paes? Perhaps one day he may take India to great Olympian heights! Do you think I have been impartial to the parent and the student? A bane became a book!
R.Gunaseelan is the Principal of Hillock International School, Sirumalai, Dindigul