Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Unnatural Cruelty towards Schoolchildren

What's happened to schoolteachers in Delhi? Why are kids in today's schools being forced to strip naked for not doing their homework (this at best requires a rap across the knuckles if it happens once or a visit to the principal and a chat with the parents if it happens frequently) or being beaten up so badly that they end up in hospital?

The Delhi CM has set up a committee to look into the issue of corporal punishment, but honestly, some of the punishments meted out to school children best resemble the treatment given to Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib! I'm sure kids can be extremely exasperating, cheeky and prone to do what they're NOT supposed to do, especially when they're in groups of forty and over, but I've always thought the maximum punishment to be meted out by the teacher was to make the child stand in the corner, with his or her face towards the wall or do extra work after school hours. I always felt that if one responded to kids the way Herod did, one was automatically disqualified from the duties of a schoolteacher.

However, it appears I'm mistaken. And somehow, I'm not surprised. Many friends have often asked me why I never chose to take up teaching as a career, until I told them that one of my first jobs (once I completed my course at University) was that of a tutor to a young boy with a learning disability (dyslexia). He was a bright, articulate chap, until you put a book into his hands, when he seemed to lose all interest. His father's advice was to hit him with a hockey stick to make him study. If this is the response that most parents have to the problems their children face, how can we make any progress?

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I work as a freelance editor and writer in New Delhi. 


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