A lot has been said about the use of cell phones in colleges and how far a teacher is supposed to go with her role as a disciplinarian etc. Who gets to decide these things? A teacher? Then students are bound to cry foul. Students? Then teachers would say that the students were too immature to decide. Parents perhaps? But then the late adolescence is a rebellious one and parent/children communication is at its nadir. Someone has to bear the brunt. 'Bell the cat' as one would say. So let me be the bad person who stifles the freedom of the student community. The old woman who ought to ought to opt for early retirement. Remember that I have already surrendered by calling myself a 'Living Fossil' here.
"It is also important that teachers maintain a good rapport with the students. The importance of this cannot be emphasized enough.
The lack of a healthy relationship between a parent and the kid gives room to these bad influences. A teacher is of great help to such kids."
Very true. I am sorry to say that I seem to be defending the indefensible and there are sadly several teachers who for reasons of their own vent their frustration on innocent children and do irreparable damage to their soaring spirits. The reasons are many but none strong enough to justify their attitude. But a sensitive management can do wonders and no teacher would want to lose his/her job. The government should also have a system in place that monitors aspects such as student/teacher ratio, the number of periods allotted etc. and affiliation of private schools and colleges ought to be withdrawn if teachers are found to be over exploited. If in spite of being given the best facility a teacher is found to be temperamentally unsuited, his/her probation period may be extended and in ultimate cases services may be terminated.
The kid says:- "Even in this case, you made some sweeping assumptions on why the student was charging the cell phone. Which could be true or false, but they were assumptions nevertheless.
There is a zero tolerance, unjust and automatic assumption of guilt, and arbitrary prosecution of students by the teachers."
I agree that these were assumptions but they were not entirely baseless. And our fears are not unfounded. Parents in India continue to worry about their married children who have kids of their own. I know that I do. There are teachers who consider their students similarly and automatically feel responsible for their safety. Let us pamper you while we can. Why grudge us the pleasure? I am sure students can differentiate between genuine concern and a power monger’s display of might.
“the funny thing is the purpose of imposing discipline is so that we pass it on...but the fact is there are people who hold other virtues, Well my question is does our society have the capacity for holding so many different views?”
I think he means other views. I feel our society is a fairly tolerant one and one person’s definition of discipline may be different to another’s. Within limits no one minds. But broadly speaking I feel that a student’s mind is very impressionable and needs to be given direction. This can be done by involving them in creative and productive activities and more importantly appreciating their efforts when their pursuits yield the desired results and by giving them a second or third chance if they falter or fail. A judgmental attitude will not help. We have to accept that they are dealing with much more competition and need to prepare themselves accordingly. If a student senses good intentions and has faith in you he/she will not mind an occasional dressing down and these are the very people who will see to it that others follow rules. I have shared my experience here and I have seen it when we take students out on study tours.
If we say “you can go out on your own but return by 8 in the evening”, chances are that they will return before the stipulated time to live up to the faith you place on them. But they have to be convinced that you mean well.
“i mean society as in parents, teachers the whole rigamole) can’t teach responsibility and caution at what 18-19? will they ever learn?? I doubt it unless they are burnt?? After all college going students are adults!!”
Quite right. College students are almost adults at the undergrad level. They must be allowed to learn from their mistakes. But burns can be of varying degrees. A singe or a mild scald is okay. But what if chances are that it may result in a third degree burn that may take years to heal and cause a permanent scar? Would it not be wiser to impose rules or issue stern warnings than to allow them to walk into danger zones and trust them to retreat at the appropriate time? I am sure this argument is going to evoke strong responses from my young readers but I’d still risk it.
Finally NSK says-
“This is convincing, but don't we have too much of distractions in today’s environment that boundaries are easily broken?”
This was exactly the purpose of my writing this post and the previous one. Too many distractions is all the more reason why youth energy needs to be given proper outlet and direction. The girl mentioned in the post is a smart and intelligent girl who could be an asset to her family and society provided her energy is channelized. She is not a Science student but even without have interacted much with her I could make out that we were dealing with a very smart girl. Could we afford to let her think that it was okay to be manipulative or that being smart and devious were the same?
There have been times when I have scolded students for being late. Pooja was one such girl who walked in when the practical class was almost over. When reprimanded she was very rude in her response.
“You come by car ma’am. How would you understand what it means to wait for hours to board a bus?”
She was almost in tears.
“You have to leave home sufficiently early. This excuse will not hold” I said.
She sat sulking for half an hour. Realizing her mistake she came again to ask if I’d explain the practical to her and I did as if nothing had transpired. From that day I could sense a positive change in her attitude towards me. It was the same with another girl Jyoti and there have been more cases when a mild rebuke has actually strengthened the bond between me and my students. As I’ve said before they have to be convinced that one means well. And dealing with bright children has never been easy.
A merry X'mas and a Happy New year to all of you.