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A girl in Mumbai had acid thrown on her by her former school principal for complaining against a teacher. Do we need to rethink the revering of teachers?
On December 24, 2019 a 16 year old engineering student was attacked with acid thrown on her chest and legs. She was attacked by her former school principal and three others. What made it worse was the fact that the principal is also a woman. The principal allegedly teamed with three other people including teachers and staffers and threw acid on the girl.
She was attacked after her father complained to the police about unnecessary punishment that the girl was given by the authorities. The girl suffered burn injuries on her chest and legs.
In a country like India that revers its teachers, it is shocking to see a teacher commit such an act. Teachers often stand on a pedestal where others can look up to them as role models. Our education system has ingrained in us that teachers are always right and are the epitome of ideal human beings we all should aspire to be. The ‘guru-shishya’ model is still clearly etched in our minds. And the whole fact that a teacher is also a human and can be wrong is still not acceptable.
‘To err is human,’ Shakespeare said. But in the Indian context, apparently this does not apply to teachers. However, this does not mean we should start disrespecting our teachers blatantly. Like any humans who make mistakes, teachers are the same. They are also humans and not some god-like Almighty power incapable of doing anything wrong.
Take the incident quoted above as an example. The consequences the girl faced for just complaining to the authorities took a nasty turn. There have been cases where the teacher punishes the student harshly on a very minuscule matter.
For example, in February an 8 year old student was made to do 120 sit ups. Corporeal punishment is not new in India. It is called out more now, thanks to the stringent laws that are put in place to protect children and students.
Our education system lacks a redressal system where students can put in their complaints in a manner that safeguards their identity. Complaining against a teacher is often seen as an act of rebellion and disobedience. That is also the primary reason why we have incidents of teachers who harass or molest students and they continue their lives as it were. A student, on the other side of the scale, lacks faculty or power to speak on this because “a teacher cannot commit a heinous act like this.”
These acts manifest themselves as huge scars on the student’s mind. We also need to focus on small acts which teachers indulge in that psychologically harm the child’s mind.
A very casual everyday example is how teachers in schools often invariably pay more attention to the quick learners. Slow learners often feel like they are lagging behind. Also the concept of announcing marks while distributing marked answer scripts. It creates an unhealthy competition in young minds.
As a young student, I had one teacher who never let me stand in the front row for the school choir or the school dance though I was fairly good at it. The reason being my dusky complexion and really skinny physique. This whole experience scarred me. I thought I lacked something and I could never talk about it to anyone because it gave me esteem issues and anxiety. It took me till my first year of college, where I was surrounded by bright and confident women, to finally come to terms with my body for what it is.
Teachers and academics need to understand the position they hold in the society. There is a dire need for them to be more empathetic towards students. Empathy will yield fruits that would help everyone in the future. Even teachers need mechanisms which will help them control their anger, frustrations and emotions in control. Otherwise, we will have more cases where this manifests itself in cases of extreme violence.
Picture Credits: Pexels
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A Journalism student. When not busy with college and assignments, I read a lot. Big
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