Sometimes, the teacher is the bully
The self-annihilation of Aritry Adhikary of the so-called much sought-after Viqarunnisa Noon School and College has painfully pointed out the lack of compassionate handling of the students in our educational institutions. The death has given rise to a flurry of unanswered questions that we have not been addressing for a long time.
Why do our teachers become teachers? What would they have become if they weren’t teachers? Who teaches them how to behave with the students? What kind of humans and professionals do our institutions want to produce for the future? Are our teachers psychologically capable of handling so many children? Who teaches our teachers? Are they really teaching? Or are they merely disciplining?
There are thousands of such questions that we have been ignoring as a nation. Our educational institutions have been pressuring children to become super-students. The children cannot fail -- if they fail, they are branded as “bad children” in the eyes of society, and their parents are branded as “bad parents.” The schools have become result-oriented machines -- they have sailed far away from being places of learning.
Now, who gives the right to teachers to misbehave with the students, and who gives them the right to humiliate parents for the lack of acceptable results of their children? Isn’t the responsibility of the schools and teachers to teach the children? Then why do schools blame children and their parents for problems the institutions themselves have created?
There are millions like Aritry in our educational institutions, who are victims of teachers’ maltreatment in the classrooms. And there are millions like Zinat Akhter, a so-called teacher, who do not understand teaching, and whose only mission seems to be to victimize the children. Teachers such as Zinat lack the moral insight of being teachers. They don’t know how to handle a tender-aged human being. They pass their own failure on to the children and their parents.
Our teachers should feel ashamed if a single student in a classroom doesn’t understand what he or she teaches; our teachers should feel ashamed for not looking after the children’s emotional wellbeing in the educational institutions. That is their job -- looking after our children.
We send our children to schools to learn, to become more creative, to acquire leadership qualities, to become good humans. We don’t send our children to schools to be maltreated by teachers, to become victims of the whims of teachers.
Our teachers need to understand that they have chosen to become teachers. However, they haven’t been thinking like teachers. Teachers cannot be instructors of commando schools, functioning merely to find fault. We expect our teachers to become dedicated educators, compassionate guides who make life easier for their pupils.
I was educated in a cadet college where students are trained to become physically tough, mentally strong, and achieve great results. Cadet colleges are out-and-out regimented institutions. Yet, we found teachers of these regimented schools more compassionate -- the cadet-college teachers don’t only discipline but also help cadets open their minds, so that they can think and prepare themselves for the future.
We find that our teachers tend to be particularly harsh on the weaker students in the classrooms. How many teachers try to find out the reason behind the children being weaker? How do the teachers behave with these weaker students?
Isn’t it a failure of the teachers that some children don’t understand what they teach?
The responsibility of a teacher doesn’t end after some class lectures and tests. They must be there for the students, during their successes and failures.
We expect our teachers not to become rulers or strict administrators.
There’s a trend in our schools for doing everything with strict administration, and this results in admonishing the children further.
Our teachers need to understand that with the advent of technology, society has been changing, and the expectations of children are changing even faster. We cannot apply the grimness of a bygone era, when teachers used to be bullies.
Above all else, teachers need to think of themselves as educators. And to do that, they must, first, learn to learn.
Ekram Kabir is a fiction writer. He can be reached at [email protected]