Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Nammal ariyathe nammude kuttikal"

A couple of weeks back, the ‘leading’ Malayalam daily – Malayala Manorama had published a series of articles about the degeneration of moral values of the present generation. In one of the issues the reporters had asked parents and teachers to contribute their opinions and suggestions about this article.

I was shocked to read the articles but is not sure whether to believe it or not as I have lost faith in the mass media. They will publish any news without looking into facts. When I went through the article I felt sorry that the society has degenerated to the extent that even babies were not spared from sexual assault.

My opinion about the students and youngsters of the present day generation are:

1.) Their family: Family plays an important role in the character formation of the children. A couple of decades ago mothers were housewives and they could take care of their children. They had time to listen to their children’s stories. These days, majority of the women work. They don’t have time for their children. By the time they get back from work they are tired. Evenings are serial times and all mothers (majority of them) are glued in front of the idiot box. Even food is served in front of the TV. They get very little time to interact with their children.

2.) The faulty education system: The present education system is faulty and there is no doubt about that. Students are not allowed to be punished. They grow up in an atmosphere where his misbehavior has to be tolerated by the teachers. Even if they disobey the school rules, he can go scot free.

3.) Consumerism: Kerala is a consumer state and everything is valued in terms of money. Nobody cares any longer about family background, education or values. It all depends on the type of house you have, the cars you have (the bigger the car, the more privileged you are!!!), your bank balance, the acres of land you own, the gold and diamonds in your locker. This is injected in the minds of children. [I personally know a mother who tells her sons that they should wash their hands soon after food. It seems if their hands dry up before washing they won’t get dowry!!!!!!] What can you expect from a society like this???????

4.) Demonstration effect: Demonstration effect is another major problem seen among the lower classes. They try to imitate their rich friends. If they don’t have the source to buy ostentatious articles, they try to get it by hook or crook. Parents too are scared to deny the unwanted needs of children. Parents buy expensive mobile phones and bikes for their sons even when they cannot afford to buy it. They are forced to borrow money to meet the needs of their children.

5.) The newspapers and television channels: The newspapers and television channels play an important role in misleading children with their advertisements. Haven’t we seen ads about contraceptives???? A mother is advising her daughter to use i-pills to prevent pregnancy!!!!! Doesn’t this encourage girls to have pre-marital sex???????

6.) The media is forever in the forefront to attack teachers. For every little thing that a teacher does, the media is out to attack them. A fortnight back, a leading Malayalam newspaper published a piece of news – a teacher cut a students hair because he kept it long. Why should such news be published????? When a student is in a school he is bound to follow the dress code. No teacher will like to teach a student who is dressed in an immodest way. I know many boys who keep ‘pigtails’. It is sick!!!! There are also boys who wear low waist pants and cholie like shirts. Their inner wear is exposed to the rest of the class!!!! Do you think this is acceptable in a co-educational institution??????? As long as there is a dress code in any institution, one has to follow it. If not, they will be punished. The media don’t have to publish such trivial things. Another instance where the media created a lot of unwanted controversy was the incident at a school in Trivandrum where teachers checked for mobile phones. The media went to exaggerate that the teachers stripped students to see if they had mobile phones and a girl attempted suicide. Did the media ever make an enquiry into the antecedents of the girl?????? Did they enquire if students were trying to vent out their anger or were there others who were behind this issue???? Nothing was done and so easily the teachers were crucified for trying to correct the students. The very same media comes out with their ‘findings’ that mobile phones play a very important role in sex rackets!!!!! Teachers do get information about students’ behaviour, if they are bringing mobile phones to school or if they are going out with others. It is on these bases that raids are conducted. The students are too clever that they remove their SIM cards and keep the phones hidden. They go to toilets to make phone calls. After that incident, we teachers are very careful not to even touch a student. If we are out to correct them on moral issues, it will be hazardous to our own health.

I think parents and teachers have to give importance to the character formation of students. If a child is found to be going astray the parents should keep a watchful eye on them. They should inform the teachers about it so that even they can be careful. Teachers too can inform parents about it. Many a time, parents support their children if teachers tell them about their ward. They will not accept that their child is wrong until they completely go out of control and are in deep trouble. If a teacher is involved in a sexual offence he/she should be dismissed from service.

The media should stop giving undue importance to school issues. They should not publish baseless news. Remember that students were punished even before but never did parents question the teachers nor did the media interfere unnecessarily.

The government should make amendments in the constitution so that the culprits are given the highest punishment. There should be no party interference in letting the wrong doers go free. Tainted ministers and party workers should be banned for life in contesting in elections and they should also be punished just like any citizen of the country. The police should also be efficient with no criminal history. There are many a time when I have longed for efficient police officers [like Suresh Gopi’s roles] with no political affiliations.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Teachers - Are we sculptors or destroyers??????

I was chatting with my best friend a few days back. As we were chatting one of her statement struck me. She told me that it was a teacher who could motivate a student or de-motivate a student. Then she added that we should have reached great heights if it were not for our teachers. I was thinking of that the whole night and I felt that it was very true.

At the time we studied there were just four schools that followed the ICSE curriculum, here in Trivandrum. We studied in one of these schools – an ancient convent school. I hate to think of those days. The snobbish mentality of nuns, the arrogant teachers and most of all, the partiality of nuns and teachers made life miserable in that school. The only good memory of school was the good friends – with whom I lost touch in course of time.

There were many occasions that I have prayed fervently. The only thing I used to ask God was to take Sr. Brida’s life so that we students could be left at peace. She was a nasty nun….. She scorned all Malayalees. I’m not sure from where she hailed – was it Goa or was she an East Indian????? She would cringe in front of Anglo – Indians and foreigners. She was good at remembering our surnames. We were addressed as, “u Nair girl, u Gomez girl, u Pereira girl, u Menon girl” and so on.

She was indeed a devil’s disciple. The only good thing in our school was that we were spared the rod – the main reason was that a little boy in a Jesuit school in Trivandrum had lost his eye sight due to a teacher’s whacking. But Sr. Brida could leash out her tongue in a manner that could directly stab one’s individuality and one’s morale.

In one of my earlier posts,“Deshadaanakikkal Karayarilla”
I had mentioned how this nun harassed me. It was indeed a terrible phase of my life.

One of my uncles bought me two pendent – one of Buddha’s and the other of Nataraja from Madras [present Chennai]. It was made of cast iron and it was normally worn around the neck with a black thread. It was indeed two beautiful pendants. As I was never a religious person I did not mind wearing a Buddha or Nataraja around my neck. Sr. Brida seeing the Buddha’s pendant around my neck screamed, “Sisterrrr, this Catholic girl is wearing all Hindu things around her neck.” She came to the most absurd conclusion that I was having a Hindu boyfriend!!!!!! In a secular country like India, didn’t one have the freedom to do what ever he/she wanted??????
One bad thing about our school was all importance was given only to the brilliant students. The mediocre students were ignored. The Principal and teachers had the false notion that only the brilliant students were good in everything while the others were good for nothing. This notion continues even today in that school!!!!!
There is an instance in that school that has hurt me very much. It was at the time of our ICSE model examination. On that day we had Biology practical. That incident is still vivid in my mind. The question was to cut a tomato horizontally and draw the inside of a tomato. In my nervousness I cut thee tomato vertically and started drawing the picture. Immediately, my Biology teacher came to me and asked me if I read the question. I just looked up at her and then to the board. I realized my mistake. I stopped drawing the picture and went on to do the next experiment. A teacher from the UP section started ‘barking’ (she was literally doing that.) saying that I was good at disobeying the teachers and she was very generous in showering abuses at me. I felt humiliated and I felt I didn’t have to tolerate the humiliation of an UP teacher who didn’t teach me. I just threw down the test-tube holder in my hand which landed on the floor and walked out of the lab much before the exams got over. I could hear teachers saying, “Bold girl, arrogant girl,” and a whole lot of adjectives with that ‘girl’. I went back to my class and cried uncontrollably. The next day the teachers gave us a sent off party. I boycotted it. I failed for all subjects – thanks to their vengeances. What hurt me most were the remarks that were written on my model exam answer scripts. I will not forget what my Biology teacher wrote on my answer script – “continue to be proud, haughty and disobedient, you will do much better!” Every one wrote rude remarks. It definitely demoralized me.
The only person who gave me constant encouragement was our Principal. She used to call me to her office and say, “Xina , you are very intelligent. Why are you not putting in an effort?” Then she could go to say, “You know, Gracy and Rachel are duffers, but they are hardworking, whereas you are intelligent but very lazy.” She was behind me and finally I managed to score decent marks for my ICSE examination. Probably she was the only person who encouraged me in my school days and I am thankful to her for that.
It is very easy for teachers to demoralize students with their words and deeds. Teachers are like sculptors who can mould students in good human beings or they can destroy the lives of students.
This Biology teacher and I worked together after a decade!!!! She was also my daughter’s teacher in the kindergarten!!!!!