Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hi all,
I meant to highlight the fact that youth energy needs to be channelized by narrating the incident. Unfortunately importance is being given to use of cell phones in the college premises. Now that the question has cropped up let me clarify.

Our college bans USE of cell phones not bringing them. In the college they can always use it with permission in case of emergency and once out of campus no one goes checking whether they are using or misusing it. Most of our students belong to middle class homes and students cannot afford to spend money on unnecessary phone calls and we trust them to use it prudently. I agree that just because of a few over smart ones all students are being punished but can it be helped? Doesn't it always happen that way?

We are aware that girls like S.....N.... are quite capable of looking after themselves. We are more worried about the innocent ones who may be influenced by their peers who may mislead them. I do not have any conclusive evidence to prove my point but in a recent program conducted for teachers on World AIDS day it was pointed out that college girls clad in burkhas regardless of their religious affiliation regularly met boys at a crossroad near the YMCA office and sped off in two wheelers to a nearby park. They are doing this during college hours and one need not be a Perry Mason to understand that their families are unaware of their activities. The use of electricity to charge their phones is not as objectionable as the fact that they seem to own cell phones unknown to their parents. If it were not so why would they charge the phone as soon as they arrived? The next question is who is providing them with mobile phones and why? Are the smarter ones being used to trap other vulnerable girls? These are concerns that bother me as a teacher. I quote the kid who says

The teachers/lecturers are threatened by the cell phone usage, be it the rapid advancement that the teachers are not able to keep up or the wealth associated with it.

He further adds-

What exactly do you achieve by banning these things? a sense of superiority?It is neither. It is just a genuine concern for those innocent girls in their teens or early twenties who have been a part of my working life.

A certain amount of discipline needs to be imposed on students in our effort to prepare them for life. Schools do not allow boys to sport a beard or grow their hair. Girls are expected to plait their hair or tie it up. They are made to wear uniforms so that the poorer ones may not feel inferior just because they don’t wear designer wear. A boy or girl does not become more or less intelligent on account of his hairstyle. But rules are laid down and no one objects. An undergrad is only a year or two older. He/she needs to be gradually initiated into adulthood and a little discipline will not harm them and teachers are not their enemies. On the day of the interview I stayed back with the placement in charge till 7 in the evening and we left only after the last girl left college. We arranged for them to go in groups and requested the few guardians who had come over to escort the girls who lived in their neighborhood. We were accountable for all 22 of them. They are likely to take up jobs in a year or two but we still felt responsible for their safety. Yet Pratap says that

Teachers in India cannot handle the responsibility.’

When my son was young the rule was that he had to come home by seven in the evening. If he did not turn up I went downstairs to fetch him home. He hated it then but I went all the same. He appreciates it now.

When my daughters were young it was understood that they could not stay out after dark but when later when my older daughter got a job in a metro I trusted her to look after herself. Once values are imbibed and boundaries are drawn our duty is done and they can decide and discriminate be they children or students. Till then we have to keep a watch on them however unpopular our stand. After all is that not part of life?


Unknown said...

Felt I had to tell you - I am coming to Jamshedpur on 21st for 3 days .Hope to go over the place I left in 1980 - 27 years ago!

kurrodu said...

I wish someone takes the initiative to counsel the girl, may be with the help of one of her friends. It is easier said than done. It is absolutely important to know as to why she had to lie and go to the extent of bringing a stranger to pose as her uncle and brother. There might be much more than what meets the eye.
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.

I agree that you have to apopt a confrontationalist approach to discipline some kids like this girl. However, it now looks like someone has to talk to her and make her realise as to what she is really getting herself into.
Teachers have always had to walk on a tightrope. The profession is indeed challenging. It it more of a "service to the community" than a money making profession.

Anonymous said...

I like the concern you show towards your students. There is a saying in the U.S. "it takes a village to raise a child". Unfortunately, these days neither schools nor parents take the time to build kids' character.

I'm glad your college does not ban bringing cellphones to class, that is an important distinction.

I was thinking about the irony here - when you are in school, you are not allowed to talk to your family/ friends. But once you start working, you should be prepared to get cellphone calls from employers at all hours of the day. Then you can't say, "Now, I am home with my family, and I can't talk on the phone". Either way, family loses out.

The Kid said...

I am glad you brought out the issue and it has been laid bare. First of all, let me tell you, there are many teachers out there who really care for the safety and the development of the students. I really respect you, it is only the general attitude of the teachers that I am against.

This is the age in which abuse of power is rampant. I would like to point you to a experiment done in Stanford University Prison experiment, where it was shown that, if unchecked the more powerful entity always abuses the subordinate entity.

When the teachers in college automatically assume the role of moral police, they end of curbing the freedom of students and sometimes abusing them. Because of your good intention to provide a safe environment to the students, you are not letting the students use cell phone on campus! Truth be told, it is none of your business. I would agree if you say that cell phone usage is banned when a teacher is teaching that makes perfect sense, because it is directly affecting your duty.

Here is a question: do you have any idea of how many teachers in your college engage in sexual advances towards your students? In my college there was at least one incident where a teacher made a sexual advance to a girl. Did you know that there have been many cases of sexual abuse of students by teachers even in schools? And why do these stories never make news, until it becomes unbearable to the student?

It is simply because the students have no voice whatsoever. The teachers and parents, automatically assume that the students are guilty. The students even after they are 18 are treated like toddlers. 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.

Let me introduce to the methods of my school, in my school, a student was sent to stand in the stinky bathroom for an hour because he uttered a swear word. In another case, two students received punches in their stomach for the same crime. My school was regarded as very good for its discipline. Based on my experience with the teachers in my school, I believe my school was inhuman and intolerant.

In my opinion, teachers are professionals who teach their subject of expertise. That is all. The students pay fees, for which the teachers offer their services to the students. While teachers can volunteer to offer more services, but they do not have the liberty to "ban" things. It is not the duty of the college teacher to inform the parents of all the activities of the student. Again, it is none of their business of where the students are. If you think a student is a practicing prostitute, please call the police.

It is time everyone realized that 18 year olds are legally majors, and cannot be "imprisoned" in schools/colleges in the name of teacher's version of ethics.

The bans in your college are inconsistent, irresponsible, and abusive. Here is a question that will prove why is it so: have you ever asked a student what he/she thinks about the ban?

The Kid said...

Contemporary example of abuse of power

A teacher giving shock treatment to discipline students!

Way to go!

Altoid said...

All very valid points, wonderful points HHGMom. Discipline imbibed from an early age definitely produces long-lasting results.

Aside, reporting back to let you know that I've done the tag Madam!

And happy holidays and season's greetings to you and yours


Vishesh said... my school the rule is you can take your mobile and give to one of teachers...they are very understanding(well at least the teachers i trust)....

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?

The Kid said...

My comments were getting longer, so I posted my thoughts in my blog.

I have explained there why I said

‘Teachers in India cannot handle the responsibility.’

Please read as to why it is wrong to have confiscated the cell phone.

Again, nothing personal hiphopgmom :)

Preethi said...

That was a heartfelt post.. and I do agree, there are so many things my mom insisted on that I appreciate in retrospect!!
As for the cellphones.. a lot of kids in college have cellphones worth 15k to 20k.. and with camera/ video recording and so on.. they neither realise the value of money nor the trouble their parents need to take to pay the bills they run up... and the lavishness starts at such a young age...
Also in the college I went to, cell phones were banned (there were not many cell phones when I studied, but later). The HOD of our dept had the same concern... so this is a concern teachers have across India.
However, it does make one wonder.. if you (an d i dont mean you - i mean society as in parents, teachers the whole rigamole) cant 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!!

The Kid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hip Grandma said...

I will respond to all of you in a separate post.x'mas hols have just begun.Let us debate an important issue.I am getting to know first hand what goes on in the minds of students and believe me I am not that insensitive.

Unknown said...

"Once values are imbibed and boundaries are drawn our duty is done and they can decide and discriminate be they children or students."
This is convincing, but don't we have too much of distractions in todays environment that boundaries are easily broken?

Tys on Ice said...

i think the college rule of not 'using' the fone in campus is a very fair rule...iam all for a certain amt of discipline and rules eventough i hve spend my college and school years breaking it and revolting agnst it...but looking back, i understand the logic behind it...and iam kinda better becoz of it...( madhu, shuddup)

btw, happy xmas and a great new year...

Anonymous said...

@ The KID

This is the age in which abuse of power is rampant. I would like to point you to a experiment done in Stanford University Prison experiment, where it was shown that, if unchecked the more powerful entity always abuses the subordinate entity.

'unchecked' in the above quote - who checks? Obviously a more powerful entity. So at some level someone has a responsibility to 'check' or police or whatever that abuse does not happen. In this case why can't you assume that in a population of students the more powerful (entity) within that group would abuse the less powerful within the same group and it is the 'responsibility' of the teachers/staff to check that such abuse does not happen?

Why you do generalize that the teachers are all bad and abuse their power, just because you probably had negative experiences with a few?

-The Visitor

Madhumita said...

When dealing with students (especially of a certain age - under grads and the like), there is no one common perspective that fits all. Levels of maturity differ and what might be acceptable discipline to one will bring out the rebel in another. This is the age when each person's individuality is making itself felt.

Re the cell phone issue, it is important to present it as a college policy with clearly defined reasons. It would help to have the student reps (union or other such body) to understand and accept first.

Despite all this and from my experience as a college student, there can never be a unanimous acceptance of any disciplinary action by students anywhere in the world - but the method of communication certainly makes a big difference.