Perspective Education

From a teacher’s lens

Educators have to often combat multiple challenges from parents, colleagues as well as the management

A few days ago, over tea, a friend mentioned the challenges she, a teacher, faces at her school. These include provocative parents, all-knowing students, changing technology and pressure from management. ‘Provocative parents’ had me recall a discussion at a workshop, on how parent’s interference, especially in high paying schools, is on the rise. In some cases, it is they who set the school agenda.

The conversation took me to the challenges at our school. While the friend works with a fee-paying, English-medium school in a Metro I am associated with a free Hindi medium school located at the fringes of a much smaller town. Majority of our students belong to underprivileged families. In the lines that follow, I share some of these challenges.

Students. On the one hand, in our quest for a ‘happy’ school and ‘overall development’ we devote a significant chunk of the ‘limited’ school time for ‘regular’ activities such as stories, sports and cultivation. We also celebrate festivals and other events together. Efforts are invested towards creating a conducive ambience, one where students feel free to take up actions of their interest. All these have them eager to attend the school. On the other hand, many of our students continue to struggle with academics. The atmosphere, at a majority of their homes, is not conducive to studies, and it is rare for them to put time with books after school. With their limited academic skill-sets, they find the going difficult once they pass out of school. Yet, they appear unwilling to put in additional efforts. We increasingly have colleagues question the existing approach. They stress on the need to prioritise academics. Our search for that elusive balance between academics and activities beyond textbook continues.

Parents. Their attendance in parent-teacher meetings is low, and on occasions, that they do come a frequently heard refrain is, ‘if my child does not understand, why you don’t beat him/her to make him/her understand’. There have been occasions when parents, coming to pick up their children early, or other reasons, have asked colleagues which class their child studies in. The scenario is different before and during admissions — parents take all the trouble and efforts to get their children admitted to the school. For mysterious reasons, once their child is admitted, their interest in school activities dwindle. Many of them appear to wash their hands off and await the school to work up some magic on their children. In a nutshell, parents continue to leave us perplexed.

Teachers. Colleagues appear to be in a constant struggle to keep their interest and energy levels high. Teaching, with repetitive annual cycles, can get monotonous. The path is a tricky, and some end up being sucked by the ‘routine’. They also face frequent comparisons with other schools in the vicinity. While they are glad to compare their actions with government schools, when it comes to finances, the government schools have a different story to tell.

The education boards, besides bringing not infrequent changes to the curriculum, have also been increasing the number of rules and regulations the schools need to adhere to. Meeting these, often, ends up increasing actions of teachers with little benefit to the school, other than ticking boxes. Non-availability of text books is a recent addition to the list of issues. Additionally, the management can get unpredictable.

The idea is neither to claim that these challenges are unique, nor to box them based on the ‘type’ or location of schools, but to bring out the range of challenges schools face. The question now is how to get our thoughts and actions together to rise to these.

The writer blogs at nimesh-ved.blogspot.com and can be reached at nimesh.explore@gmail.com

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 12:31:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/from-a-teachers-lens/article29307534.ece

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