a relative, teacher by profession in a government school in jharkhand, was about to be jailed recently, until his wife, a lawyer by profession, came to his rescue. his crime – he raised hands at a young boy for not performing well in exams. the boy happened to be from the tribal community of santhal parganas, and soon the incident took a forward-beats-backward colour.
in metros, such incidents are quite common, where there are strict rules for teachers to not use any kind of physical aggression against students, whatever good that act be for. if reported, such acts by teachers can cost them their jobs and even imprisonment.
still unheard of in the smaller places, this news came like a shock to us. not that we belong to the school of thought that believes animal and children can best be taught through force. still, we strongly believe that the teacher has a right to occasionally use force, as he/she uses love and compassion on other occasions.
however, modern day educational system completely bans the use of force against children. their take – children are tender beings and thus must be treated tenderly. because of the large number of suicide cases by children appearing for exams or waiting for results, there’s also a proposal to completely do away with the exams. god knows how they are going to measure the learning produced in children – probably if they desire to measure the learning.
as kids, we were subjected to love, compassion and force, whatever the situation demanded, and whatever the teacher believed was good for us. teachers had a discretion in the techniques they would utilise to make learning happen; and parents seldom interfered.
being an average student in school, i have pretty less experiences where the teacher was strict on me. however, i too have knelt down, beat beaten with scale on the knuckles, ousted of class. did my parent led a morcha against the teachers? never. on one occasion, i didn’t let my tears dry for a full 3 hours, so that parents will understand the trauma i had to undergo, but they were not the least moved. (thinking back on what happened, i believe my parents were right.)
During a parents teachers meeting, when the lady teacher complained about my brother’s poor performance in class, father said “agar ye parhta nahi to aap iska tang tod dijiye. hum uff tak nahi karenge”. such was the confidence parents placed in teachers.
my mother recounted stories of her own teachers. this was a time further down the history.
having a school in the village had its advantages in the sense that commuting to school was easier. however, the disadvantages weighed more. the teachers were not just satisfied by your performance at school. once the sun set, not a student should be visible on the playgrounds. in those days, there were few villages that were lighted with electricity. in front of every house, there used to be a platform, where students from each house would assemble to study together, in the light of a lantern. girls too weren’t spared. the teachers would regularly conduct inspections. the inspections became stricter during board exams, when the result of the students was as much a prestige issue for the teacher as the student.
so what techniques did teachers utilise to teach students in the good old days. a well oiled cane was the best weapon. even if students never had a chance to taste it, the sight of it was enough to draw fears in them. Some teachers would designate students to bring canes to class. this would subsequently be tested on erring students; if a student was particularly unfortunate, he would be beaten with the same cane that he delivered to the teacher. kneel down (before a class full of students leering at you), kneel down in cock position (thankfully, this was outside the class), hold up a heavy school bag in air, stand for the entire day on a stool (backbenchers were fortunate here as they didn’t have to stand at the centre of the classroom), and many other modes of punishment, that today are part of our nostalgia, that today’s kid will miss forever.