Who the educators are is just as important as education?

Educators and Education!!

Deon Demamount, Youth co-content creator, UNICEF India
A child walks back home after school hours
18 November 2021

Who we are is a culmination of all the people we have met in our lives. Some leave scars and to quote Taylor Swift, some “draw stars around those scars.” But I find it shocking to realize the lack of spotlight on the ones with the power to leave them in the very first place.

I had the luxury or the misfortune, however you see it, to study in seven different schools in my lifetime, and everywhere I went, be it a big private school or a public one, I couldn’t help but notice the impact a teacher could have on a student. Be it good or bad.

After all, we spend around thirteen to fourteen years of our lives going to a school, (at least the privileged half of us), wherein we spend more time with our teachers than we do with our very own parents and these teachers end up teaching us so much more than the subjects they are required to. Because how they react to certain things and situations, their values and thoughts are constantly being projected on to us. And because we are of a tender age trying to figure out who we are and what kind of a person we want to grow into; we often end up mimicking their behavior towards things we haven’t yet made up our minds about ourselves. For example, if a teacher shames a boy for not being man enough because he cried in front of everyone, if a teacher assassinates a girl’s character for having too many friends who are boys, if a teacher makes insensitive comments towards the LGBTQ+ community or makes fun of wanting to be an artist when one grows up and tells them to aim for something “real” in life, everyone in that classroom will sleep with that same thought and apply the same notion the next time when a similar instance arises. Thereby, passing on the rotten baton of toxicity, fears and insecurities to a younger generation who, one can only hope, will have the courage to unlearn in the future. And as much as I would like to highlight many such scenarios and make this article never ending, I believe you do have an understanding of the truth underlining my frustration. Because if you sit down and think about it, it is terrifying that there is a slight probability for the youth of the world to be in such insincere hands.

I am not stating that all teachers are bad, even though the sentences you’ve read above are all negative highlights. But through them all I wish to do is to remind you that out of ten educators, even if one is anything synonymous to what I’ve mentioned, then there is something not right about the way things are.

A teacher is someone who can do wonders in the life of their students, I know, I’ve been taught by them. A teacher can inspire, protect, guide, and lead their students into a future of better possibilities as they play such a crucial role in developing our personalities. But if that very same teacher ends up using their words and power in ways that can only be politely called cruel and treats students like a punching bag in the name of disciplining them, then we as a society are failing! And let me remind you that it’s the life of countless children we are endangering by not having strict vigilance on the ones who get to teach in the very first place. Why not have teachers psychoanalyzed in interviews to see if they are fine to be teachers? Why not create special bodies that survey/review a teacher’s behavior in their term? Have semester wise anonymous feedback forms filled by the students on teachers, not for formality’s sake but to act upon them and give students power to fight back if the need be. Something… anything! Not to promote a sense of students vs. teachers or vice-versa, but to nurture a motto of teachers for the students. I am not saying any of these will guarantee safety and better education. But these are just little changes I could think of that the ones in power can at least try implementing because it sure is better than doing nothing at all or waiting for something worse to happen that hasn’t already.

And the rest of us, you, and I, can only speak up! So, let us never let fear silence us again. Share your stories, your experiences and what we can be doing to better the quality of educators in our schools.

Stand up and step up. You are not alone.

The time to act was yesterday, but we still have today and tomorrow.