Monday, April 7, 2008

The Darker Side of Order

“We don't need no education
We dont need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!”

- Pink Floyd, Another Brick in the Wall

A decision that many parents really think through is the school that they enroll their children in. Usually the process involves going through many and eliminating according to individual criteria, after which parents battle with themselves to overcome ‘letting go’ issues, and they finally send their child away for a few hours each day to become better people.

In that context, teachers are seen as extremely influential people in a child’s life. While having almost complete authority on children during their time at school, they play a huge role in moulding those impressionable minds. So it’s scary when that power is used without responsibility. The condition is reflective of the spate of corporal punishment cases that the country has recently witnessed. Caning and other forms of corporal punishment weren’t that unheard of a few years ago. But it’s appalling that these statistics raise their ugly head in an age where there is a growing awareness on not physically abusing a child in an effort to get them to obey.

· A 15-year old Delhi schoolgirl , who lay comatose for three months after being hit on the head with a stick by a teacher, died this March.
· A 6th standard child was beaten up by a group of teachers for failing to complete her homework.
· A 4th standard child in a Hassan government school was beaten by her teacher for asking for more food at lunchtime.

The Supreme Court of India has banned corporal punishment in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Tamil Nadu. Proposed guidelines in the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights make it illegal to even scold a child or call them names like ‘stupid’ and ‘mindless’ in class. Despite these meaures, plenty of cases still take place, the majortiy of which go unreported.

Children are helpless. They depend on adults to guide them through life until they arrive at a stage where they can do it themselves. Misusing that position and delibrately inflicting pain on them in an attempt to ‘discipline’ them is nothing short of perverse. Chirdren have a right to attain an eductaion in an environment that is free from fear and abuse, physical or otherwise. ‘Grown-ups’ who fail to understand that are obviously the ones in depserate need of an education.

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