It was a day when I had to literally be strict with one of my students; and strict means literally strict. it was my first term as a teacher in an organization. Examinations were ongoing and I received my bundle for correction. While going through the papers of the students, I came across a certain paper which drew my attention not because it was exceptionally well written but because, the composition written by a student had something so shocking in it that I could not believe my eyes I was reading a 16 year old's answer paper.
The essay on "Man is known from his company" attempted by this student gave me jitters because the ideas expressed in it were more mature than anyone could expect a school child to write. It was not about openness with which the child had taken this audacious step of involving sexual innuendos in the paper. it was more about the level of dignity that seemed to have been compromised by somebody that was supposed to be my student. This fact not only hurt me, but motivated me to take prompt action. Against the child's will, she was confronted very well and her father was informed to come and meet the school institution.
Before the meeting was supposed to take place, the student came to me and tried arguing justifying the unwarranted attempt on her part as simply a normal tendency witnessed in today's educational institutions especially those governed by English as a medium of instruction. This fact enlightened me on the extent to which a foreign language can have the prowess to manipulate people into discarding the values sustained in our Indian culture on morality and decency advocated particularly in relation to adolescents; in particular the girl child. For this girl, there was not supposed to be any remorse on her part for the deed that she had engaged in. This at first made me angry but later on, when I thought about the same, giving her case some more time, it illumined me where the parental generation of today has gone wrong. It was true that she had made a mistake. However, does it save any of the elderly population of today from the allegation of irresponsibility? The child's upbringing is not an easy onus to execute. It needs full time engagement and attention. The reason that any child engages in any sort of uncompromising activities undoubtedly shows the failure of the parents, the teachers as well as all the elders who have missed the indispensable need to sit and disseminate value education to the child; it is apparent today, we all care less about MORALS. When we talk about morality, we need not put taboo on any child's curiosity towards understanding certain phenomenon. Sex education is a need of the hour today indubitably and it is the choice, rightfully of many. There is no doubt about the fact that today's generation has become justifiably more informed and in fact more aware than that of the yester years when the lack of awareness led to many crimes like domestic exploitation/violence go unnoticed. It is absolutely a matter of pride to see a 16 -17 year old girl talk boldly about menstruation, sexual abuse and marital rape. But, to see any child misuse the general knowledge received to express one's reckless instincts on paper as an opportunist is greatly objectionable. This is what I explained to her in a detailed counseling session I took of her. "It is not about gender bias, whether as a girl you need to be restricted about certain topics." I told her boldly. "It is about the need for propriety respecting the integrity of the institution where you are in." This is where we often make a mistake under the pretext of modernity. We tend to forget where we are, the fact that our actions need to be regulated by the kind of milieu we are in. In a temple, we cannot engage in a disco. This is where modern generation has failed in my opinion. They do not construe the need for control and balance in life. As a teacher/mentor, I objected thoroughly. She felt bad at that point of time when she was called in to question severely by the principal, her father and the HOD of the institution. However, after the incident, when her father promised us to give more attention to his daughter's upbringing and I see the result today wherein the student has transformed into a better person, concentrates on studies and respectfully tells me, "ma'am, you are strict. I fear you but I know you were RIGHT." It feels good. Really good.
Dr. payal Trivedi