Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Published May 10, 2023 by with 0 comment


 No one is a savage.

A teacher makes a mistake, everyone does, at one time or another. Some people wrote he is a savage. No teacher in Bhutan can be branded savage.

It is not the first incidence of a teacher being lashed out with hatred and dragged to court for one incidence of punishment levied on a child. While the media coverage of a teacher whipping and making marks on a 7 year old demonised a teacher, we forgot the number of years of his good service, his sacrifices, and the inspiration he must have been to others.  But the media is not wrong to raise as well, that’s the role of media.

Science and philosophy tell us that action is the result of thought allowed to be disturbed by circumstance. No one is trained well enough to understand that it is not the circumstances but the interpretation of our thoughts on it that triggers chain of events. Any one can make a mistake, and from over nine thousand teachers, one or two will get into conflict. That doesn’t make teacher savage.

Many underlying circumstances may have prompted him to lash out. It was wrong for him to lose self-control, and if his aggression is everyday behaviour, it will be unacceptable and unsafe for other children.  I doubt if any teacher would be on a lashing spree for every small misdemeanour of children. There surely must be some norms required to adhere to, and teachers might have reminded them many times.

Over the last few years, we are seeing an increasing incidence of children failing to be obedient at class work. Students have to be compelled to write homework, they have to be kept under the nose during the study to maintain focus, students have no discomfort at not completing homework, no discomfort in walking out of class, being disruptive and regardless. Something about our students has made them indifferent, free and frivolous. Sometimes, I doubt if we can infuse them with the mettle to be honest, courageous, discipline, benevolent and reverent as they grow up.

Teachers have much bigger role to counsel and discipline than teach their lesson.  Our teachers take massive risk in using stick and levying corporal punishment with a hope that it would deter indiscipline and disobedience and encourage rightful conduct. It’s a risky affair to be parenting hundred of children on a daily basis, each of them from diverse backgrounds; from broken families, from pampered homes, from wealthy house, from innocent homes, truants and teasers, bullies and broken hearts, intellectuals and visionaries, ignorant and insecure, and so many types in one roof to care for!

At our homes, we are challenged by our children unwilling to adhere to norms we expect of them. We are challenged when they have to be woken up every morning, have to be asked to eat on time, dress on time, come home on time. We are challenged when children have to be detached from the phone and television. We have challenges when controlling them from taking drugs, smoking and chewing baba. We are challenged by their temper, their freewill behaviour. We are distraught by our inability to parent them, and often we hope they could tone down and come home as a good son.

In a school, there are hundreds and thousands of students, everyone from varying backgrounds, with a diversity of manner issues, tastes and hopes. In my school, mere twenty teachers have the parental responsibility to care for some three hundred children. That is 15 children a teacher to parent on average, and every class teacher with no less than 30 in a class to teach, guide, advise, counsel, remind, track, train, record, meet, listen to, hear from, care and concern about. When teaching responsibility is overwhelmed by the barrage of other responsibilities, particularly disciplining, the stress and strain on a teacher is beyond any pay scale, in fact. Yet, teachers manage to make the most of their time to ensure students are guided, advised, counseled, reminded, tracked, trained, recorded, met, listened to, heard from, cared and concerned about. Are these subtle yet vital roles ever going to be measured, or respected by society?

We may blame the teacher for making marks on a child, but we fail to think about the teacher’s situation from his perspective; the demands, the causes, the reasons that must have led him to do. We cannot brand him savage, cruel or heartless for whatever the case. A teacher never keep a grudge on a parent and punish a child, his teacher instinct would never let him do anything like that. His Buddhist conscience would not let him lose himself.

When I see how much teachers do beyond their primary teaching role, I simply wonder if there are any other civil services that can be crucial and magnanimous to rely on for what becomes of a child in future. During the pandemic, we know parents counted days to send children to school, many said, children were better at school than at home. The underlying reasons were parents being challenged in parenting. Parents therefore must know that teachers’ roles in school over the decades have only become bigger and more complex, more riskier, more accountable, it is simply growing in day.

Every teacher makes an inexplicable effort to discipline children at school. It is frustrating to want to do something about students to make them humble, obedient and enthusiastic to learn, compete and grow when in fact one or the other fail from time to time, some repeatedly. It is even more painful to have parents raise voice, charge and vent against teachers for petty actions taken.

“Sir, my son was humiliated in the class, he is denying to eat dinner also.” The message intends that if child become ill or take his life, teacher is accountable. “Sir, my son was kept standing outside the classroom for failing to write homework. It is unfair.” It intends that child must be kept inside, and favour him even if he fails his task. When a child is caught smoking in the toilet and parent is called for disciplinary action, parent would appeal on child’s behalf to be reconsidered. These are iceberg example. There are very many incidents teacher tackle everyday hoping things would change.

Unfortunately, sometimes, out of sheer loss of self-control, teacher makes mistake of trying to correct a child the wrong way, because the right way failed to. This teacher then get penalised for failing the penal code. It is a forgivable incident if the damage was not exaggerated and assumed. One child and one teacher from one school and everyone thinks it is everywhere! When working with hundreds of students, it is possible that sometimes issues like the recent case can become a disturbing story. Does an incident make a man a bear?

Some have branded the teacher a savage. Even a pack of tigers in the savannah are not savage. The pack kills a bison only when prompted by their hunger, not for entertainment. A teacher is a human being, another man, a father to his children, a teacher who would always want to give the best and expect the best. He must be a good father, a great friend, a loyal teacher, and a son who has been an example.

The teacher may be now a bad teacher in the view of everyone, but does that make him a savage? Often when teachers come to the dark light of the media for similar incidences, a teacher is court marshalled by people without any consideration for whatever good he must have been.

We must understand that, it must never be by intent to dishonour the penal code, but a simple act gone harsh on a child who is a ‘chey chey’ to a most caring parent. Often when our best intentions and hope is ravaged by opposing forces, our savage nature can take us over. We are also savage when we are hurt and angered, we also sometimes say and do things that are savage out of love and jealousy.

If I was that parent, I could have questioned, not necessarily make news out of it. I can empathise the pain parent must have felt, and I can also empathise the teacher for that accidental outcome. I have made mistakes when I was a young teacher, and often students’ disruptive behaviour, their lack of concern and care about what school defines, their total disregard of our most sublime intentions about their future, trigger us to take step to punish them. It takes an elephant’s patience to rattled us into making a mistake.

Parents must know that, we love your child like you would, for they stay more with us then with you. You may have given birth and you may be supporting their education, but education is what we model, teach, guide, counsel, and moments of a family we live every day in school. We are savage not to care much of our own children than we care about yours. I don’t get time to teach my sons, but I do for yours. 

That is savage of me to deny my children my wisdom.






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