Monday, May 4, 2015

Role of teachers in regulating regular schooling

I happen to attend a seminar on the topic education and role of the teachers in which the speaker talked about Indian education at length and expressed her concern that the basic ethos of the ancient education system are lost somewhere due to many reasons known to all of us. The other speakers spoke about the place of the teacher in the society and the teachers in India not given that respect as they deserve or were given in the past. One speaker was of the firm opinion that the teachers at university and college level will have to take responsibility on themselves and drive for the improvement and Indianisation of education. The audience was particularly impressed by her emphasis on the solutions to the problem than talking about the problems. If we ponder upon the past, we recall about the Gurukuls in our country and the students used to be away from the parents to get education from their Gurus. This occurred after the children had their initial education from their parents and family. That time education was not classified as pre primary, primary, middle, secondary and senior secondary, rather this was divided as per age. Age was important but not as rigid as in today`s time. The children focused on learning and there were no distractions of any kind because the children were away from the society issues and they learnt the lessons of the life with their Gurukul mates and the teachers. The learning was more practical and they were made to learn the value of hard work and live a life which was same for all the students. In the Gurukuls, all were equal and there was no distinction based on the family or economic background. In this situation chances of the children`s learning improved. The Gurus were impartial and they also did not favour the ones coming from the influential families. The gurus devoted their entire life for the cause of their disciples without expecting anything in return. As change is the law of the nature and so has been the case with the Indian education system also. The involvement of parents has become very important in this era and those who are not able to be a part of the learning of their children, curse themselves. This involvement of the parents up to a limit was alright but in the present context, this seems to be crossing the limits and the teachers experience their involvement as interference. The teachers are finding it difficult to handle those children who get undue support of their parents. Some parents insist that their child can never be wrong and this was the teacher or the other children who are responsible for any problem which might be there. The violent behavior of the children is on increase which causes problems to the other children. The bullying in the class or the school bus is causing a lot of problem to many children who come to the school to gain knowledge and not merely to be certified that they were studying in that elite school. These problems are in other schools also but the gravity of the same is not that much in the so called elite schools. The children learn abusive language or come across awful words from their friends in the class. This is a common complain to the schools that parents make that their children were using foul words which are never spoken in their family. The problem got multiplied because the teachers found themselves deficient in handling such situations properly. Lack of schools is forcing the schools to admit more children than what can be taught properly. A responsible person shared his experience of visiting a school in which the children were writing their examination outside the class rooms. When the principal was asked why the children were sitting outside in the open, he replied that there were 135 students in the class whereas only fifty students can be accommodated in the room. During the days of the examination, all children come while in normal teaching days only 30-40 percent are present, hence they are accommodated in the rooms which is not possible during examination. I understand that this is not the condition of one school but thousand of them. Then there is shortage of teachers which multiplies the problem.  Also, the commitment of the teachers towards this noble job desires a lot and that is forcing many parents to think about home schooling for their children.
Home schooling is the concept which is not new but has been in practice from ancient time. Earlier it used to be for the likes of Eklavya, but now those parents who can afford their children in the best of the schools are deciding in favour of home schooling. This saves the travelling time of the children and also the parents feel that the exposure of the children to the negatives like abuse and bullying etc is also avoided. The parents advocating home schooling are of the opinion that their children unlearn good things in the schools and learn bad ones. This may be true up to some extent and in some cases but this cannot be universalized. Also home schooling may not be possible for all the parents and for a long time. Home schooling cannot be a substitute to proper schooling. Though the suggestion of such parents that the children should be exposed to curricular and extracurricular activities in the schools and academics can be taken care of by the children still makes a sense but can we divide academics from co curricular and extracurricular activities? The recent concept of home schooling came from Europe specially Germany and now having its presence felt in Metros in our country. When we tried to understand the reasons behind the same, it was revealed that some parents are losing faith in proper schooling system that forces them to think for home schooling. This reminds me of a forceful statement of the speaker that the teachers will have to make all possible efforts so that the faith of the parents and the society in the education system is restored. The politicians and the policy makers might be framing the policies but when it comes to making the children learn and imbibe values, the teachers have all the freedom and autonomy to do that. Even in the present system if the teachers work hard and with sincerity, there is no reason why the parents will think of home schooling.  Undeniably, man is a social animal, hence the proponents of regular schooling believe that the children should stay together, work together and learn together to acquire some social skills important for survival in the society. Not unless they sit in a group will they learn to conduct themselves and become confident or convincing. Whether it be problem solving, team work or relationship building, it is the regular school that gives them an environment to hone all such skills. Students in a regular school are exposed to a wide range of ideas and concepts which does not happen in home schooling. Besides, the ladder of success cannot be scaled unless there is a competition among peers. That feeling of competition arises in the company of peers. Regular schooling has benefits beyond imagination only if its few disadvantages are restricted. Here comes the role of a teacher rather an effective teacher.
This submission to all of you does not mean anything against home schooling but the importance of regular schooling is undisputed from the ancient time. The sample size of home schooling is very small and no studies has yet been conducted on the difference between the children schooled at home or in the school so it may not be appropriate to comment on this in real or authentic way, but regular schooling is very important and the teachers and school managements should make all possible efforts that no child feels terrified coming to the schools. They must ensure that the parents have faith in them and the country is given a civilized and intelligent citizen to look after her. The teachers must do everything possible to gain the same respect as was given to them in the past. The parents can make mistakes, society can be pardoned for the same but the teachers cannot afford not to perform their duties as expected in the interest of the children and the country. This humungous responsibility lies with them and it should be fulfilled without nonchalance.

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