For Kids’ Sake, Parents Must Learn to Trust Teachers Again

The growing paranoia in parents has to do with the security of their children and the perception of physical threat.

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‘School’ has always been a word used synonymously with the sanctum sanctorum of learning.

Parents, especially, pin their hopes for their children's future on these institutions of excellence that are the single most important influence on a child’s intellectual and emotional development. But lately, unfortunate incidents in some schools have tarred and feathered these very institutions, putting educators and education, quite literally, at stake.

This growing paranoia often has nothing to do with the quality of teaching. It has more to do with the security of their children and the perception of physical threat.

Given that this seems to be happening more frequently, it's time to look at the causes of this growing lack of respect for education institutes and address these demons.

Myth: Parents See Teachers as Having an Easy Job

There's a lot else that an educator does besides teach a class or subject – trying to get through to kids’ barriers to learning, developing syllabus plans, marking papers, and last but not the least, supporting the school management in the safety of children.

The truth is that excessive control from the government has forced educationists to take on more administrative roles, compromising their personal growth as educators.

Helicopter Parenting is Suffocating the Spontaneous Growth of Kids

Helicopter parenting is described in public discourse as an overbearing parenting style – where parents hover over their children. This affects their ability to gel well with others.

Children with controlling parents are more likely to be depressed or anxious, according to a study cited by the Daily Mail.

While some parental involvement helps children develop, too much can make them more likely to get into depression and less satisfied with their lives, the study says.

That's precisely why it's important for parents to let their children be, explore the world and the society and the various bonds it offers, instead of hand-holding them all the way.

Too many fears have crept in: fear of failure, fear of bias, fear of the environment, fear of sexual assault, and fear of exclusion, to name a few.

According to media reports, the reason for the recent crime committed in the Gurugram school was due to fear of examinations, and the student believed that the incident would lead to postponement of the same.

But, that's not the only fear. That very act has spawned a whole new cycle of fear for others, which is fear of sexual assault or safety and basic freedom.

That's translated into a complete breakdown of trust in the institution of school, as they are seen as the sole actor in this instance, whereas parents forget that they too have a very constructive role in shaping the minds of their children.

Education has Become Commoditised

A school is still an institution of learning and not a service industry or a product. The minute an educational institution spends money on marketing their brand, it gets perceived as a consumer product equivalent to a bar of soap.

It is true that today a majority of schools spend money on marketing and advertising on billboards to attract enrollment.

The annual fee is sometimes also prohibitively high, and parents tend to view this expense as debt instead of as an investment in their children’s future.

This fear of fees too has skewed the way parents look at schools, and has served to undermine the respect in society towards institutions of excellence. The fact is, there are schools for all income brackets. And with the inclusive RTE for economically weaker sections and parents of students invited to join the fee committees, it is time to recognise that fees pay the salaries of teachers and fund the very facilities parents demand for their children.

Education institutions must remain sacrosanct as institutions of learning and holistic development.

Policy and parental expectations must work in tandem to encourage excellent and able minds to join education as a profession. Currently, no one chooses teaching if they can help it. The deficit of quality educators is growing year on year. And today, even a Bill Gates comments that he is disappointed with the education system in India.

But that is another issue altogether.

According to a report in TEACH magazine, a century ago, teachers were almost certainly among the most educated members of their communities. This meant that they were, to some extent, looked up to because of their learning (although they were also looked down upon because they didn’t do “honest work”).

Today, the education levels of teachers are perceived to be as much as the rest of the community, in large part because so many members of society have finished high school and even gone beyond.

Accordingly, teachers are no longer looked up to because of their education.

In education’s previous avatar, parents never questioned the ability or the role of teachers. But with a growing imbalance of respect and admiration between parents and educators, it's time to create a new culture of open dialogue.

The trust in teachers must return. And a new mutual respect must evolve that will help both educators and parents overcome the fears that cripple our children today and therefore don’t allow them to grow naturally as kids any more.

(Shefali Varma is the chairperson of Ardee Schools. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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