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Cruelty in schools - 23 Feb 2010

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 05:30

To treat the news of a teacher in Orissa who has beaten to death her student for not doing his homework as ‘shocking’ would be an apology for a sentiment which is complex for me to define with one single word. That human attitudes and human behaviour can be bizarre is explicit in the numerous examples that we keep reading about and hearing of. If we only take the schools as the work area for the moment we would realise how much needs to be done to improve the work atmosphere of schools and the work behaviour of the staff that handles all types of normally healthy and deficient and disabled creatures of God of very young ages.

Unfortunately the schools have been in the limelight for wrong reasons as the rate of students’ suicides goes up and so do the incidences of teacher harassment of students. Of course ‘beaten to death’ is not just harassment- it’s homicide. A child is murdered for not doing his homework sounds horrendous. My senses just went numb. This was also not the first time we had heard of such an incidence. All the other seeming cruelties paled in front of this. My small psychological clinic acts as a window for me to see the outside world and it’s inside hidden cruelties. Since I see a lot many children from all types of schools with various learning disabilities and behaviour problems I hear of the subtle and silent and gross and loud cruelties that teachers inflict upon such poor innocent souls. Some day when I am in a mood I would narrate some of them for all of you to make your own judgments about them.

A bad worker blames his tools it is said. A bad management blames his teachers. And in turn a bad teacher blames her students. Frankly the onus lies with the management ultimately. The buck has to stop there. Employee feedback is generally a regular feature for most organizations or should be at least. In schools a student who is victimised may hesitate to complain to higher authorities for he/ she may be denied access to the principal or /and live in fear of being further exploited by the specific teacher if he complained. There has to be a method for collecting feedback from students about teacher performance and behaviour/conduct.

As professional organisations engaged in the serious business of educating young minds, how serious are schools about continuously improving themselves in terms of psycho-spiritual development. How serious are schools about conducting regular staff development programs is an open question to everyone who is concerned about the current prevailing situation of most schools across the country. There could be some suggestions like this. Firstly it would be important to screen the job seeking teachers for their personality traits and their teaching aptitude besides their honourable degrees. There is a possibility for mental illness or aberrations in the teacher’s personality. Secondly they should be oriented for some months towards the schools philosophy and mission statements if they are at all clearly defined and implemented by the management.  Thirdly teachers should be put through awareness programs of child psychology and specific disabilities and their management. Fourthly teachers should also be put through programs such as anger, stress management and self development. Obviously whatever is being done in the name of teachers training on the job does not seem to be adequate enough otherwise we would not hear of such casualties so often.

The parents lobbies should also get stronger to raise their voice against atrocities against their children whenever noticed for ultimately they are the worst sufferers if a child is hurt, harassed, victimized, maimed or killed at school. For parents the damage is permanent.   

Besides the philosophical question of the very purpose of having schools and its long term goals, we also need to define many more aspects of schooling such as the personality of the teachers, their specific competencies, their attitudes towards children and their attitudes towards their job, to name a few. There is a lot of talk about teacher stress due to work overload which is again due to many factors, such as bad student teacher ratio, curriculum overload etc.

Published in Hitavada Future - 23 Feb 2010

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 03 March 2010 23:07 )

Sense of self efficacy - 26 Jan 2010

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Thursday, 28 January 2010 22:50

Mahesh decided to become an entrepreneur at 22 years of age. He had practically nothing in his pocket and no place to stay in the new city where he had decided to make his mark. All he had was immense confidence in himself and his capabilities. It was a steep climb as he had set a high goal for himself but he was determined. He had never been afraid of hard work and never been afraid to learn new things and face challenges. He was ready to work twenty hours per day to meet his goals. As he gradually began to master newer experiences his sense of self efficacy went up like never before. Earlier he had a high self image but now he had a high sense of self efficacy too. It did not come easily- it gradually developed as he learnt new tasks and mastered them. The positive experiences of handling the tasks effectively gave him the sense of self efficacy. The successful outcomes of the goals achieved were responsible further for enhancing the sense.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 28 January 2010 23:03 )

See a dream - 12 Jan 2010

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Tuesday, 12 January 2010 05:30

‘What is that that makes your heart beat faster and gives you that push of adrenalin?’ is a question I love to enquire about people but the answer often is a dismal blank. It’s painful to see young minds without dreams in their eyes. It saddens me to see them aspiring only for good colleges, high marks, good sounding degrees and good jobs ultimately. And what do they mean by a good job is not known to them entirely.

‘What is your long term dream’- I inevitably ask every job seeking youth or job doer. And the answers are ‘don’t know’, ‘never thought about it’, and something as vague as this. A common answer one has learnt to expect is a ‘good job with a good status’. What does that mean I would again ask? Is it a fat salary, for we know that that cannot be the sustaining component for too long if the job itself is boring and unchallenging or if you are a misfit in that job. Sometimes people realise that they are misfits when it is too late to switch over into something meaningful. Of course optimists might say ‘never too late’ but precious years are lost you will agree. And the levels of emotional frustrations remain invisible and unaccounted for in such cases. But what is certainly visible is that the person is not happy in mind and there is no contentment in the soul. It lies empty and dissatisfied with life. The psychological community strongly opines that Indians are generally a depressed society. The reasons could be many and commonly fathomable.   

One of the reasons is that we do not have a long term dream. We do not generally have passions that we would like to pursue with single minded focus. Even if few persons have dreams they are not allowed or severely denied by their parents if the dream is off the beaten track. Take one ‘idiot’ who wanted to pursue wildlife photography but was pushed into engineering by his parents. He was a misfit in engineering but was stuck there due to parental pressure until another ‘idiot’ pushed him out of it.

Take the story of Mr. Rajkumar Hirani himself who left the city to pursue his dreams in filmdom, struggled for two long decades before he made a mark publicly. The world would have laughed at him then and called him foolish. Today he is being acclaimed as the number one director! People must not forget his audacity to believe in himself and must not forget his mental resilience to persist in his passion of film making. The world would have forgotten that they had called him an idiot then. Now he is an idiot with a difference, who knew what he wanted and where he wanted to go. He knew what made him tick and what gave him the kick in life.

Most people do not have passions and are uncertain of themselves and their goals. Some who do have dreams in their eyes would be afraid to pursue them for fear of ridicule and lack of self belief. Many would be unaware of their passions and their dreams as that’s the way they have been brought up. They have not been taught to think on those lines at all. It is a glaring tragedy that the neither the Indian parent nor the guardians at school and college guide the youth to dream their own dreams. They are generally taught to follow the societal lopsided stereotypes and the generally outdated written book. Students are asked to write the answers from the printed book and not in their own words. Their minds are fettered and chained in stereotyped moulds and nobody dare encourage them to break free of it. The ones who dare are called ‘idiots’ or ‘mad’. Only an idiot would be willing to risk his life and take on a lonely struggle and a tiring one as it becomes a long drawn fight against the entire system and the loved family. But the idiot would still persist in his dream as that is the only thing that makes his heart beat faster. And the only thing that makes him feel alive and worth it.

Published in Hitavada Future on 12 Jan 2010

Swami Vivekananda’s mantra - 29 Dec 2009

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 05:30

"No man can long occupy a position for which he is not fit. By doing well the duty which is nearest to us, which is in our hands now, we make ourselves stronger, and improving our strength in this manner, we may reach a state in which it shall be our privilege to do the most coveted duties..."

The Hindu monk who said this was Swami Vivekananda. He further adds that "We find ourselves in the position for which we are fit, and if one has some capacity above another, the world will find that out, too..." He reminds us that "We are all apt to think too highly of ourselves”.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 28 January 2010 22:32 )
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