Who will counsel teachers and parents?
The State government of Goa has recently announced plans to provide the service of Counselors at Secondary Schools. There appears to be an effort at oversimplifying the problem and the solution. Prima facie, the problem of aberrant behavior by students appears to be a case of in-disciplined behavior. That appears to be the logic behind the attempts to counsel students to improve the situation. Unruly or deviant behavior however is a product of several psychological forces at work.
Early this year, a grade nine student stabbed a teacher to death at a school in Chennai reportedly for being “too strict with him”. The lady teacher was reportedly stabbed 14 times and her colleagues claimed that she was “dedicated and sincere.”
The trend is to promptly condemn the assailant. But, civilizations have proved that murderers are not born, rather made by factors surrounding them. As you sow, you reap. Are the school kids the cause of the ills facing the society? There are in fact mere vehicles, carrying forward a systematic failure from the aging generation, specially parents and teachers, who play a dominant influence in their lives.
In the case of the Chennai boy, the teacher had given him 13 adverse written remarks. The question that ought to be asked is, how come the teacher ended up giving 13 adverse remarks. After three remarks, if things did not improve, there was a need to re-examine the methodology employed in academics. Instead, the teacher humiliated him again and again, till he turned desperate.
There is therefore a need for counselor for teachers and parents. Unresolved anxieties eventually result in building up of tension within. Adverse remarks, humiliation at school and at home – the latter supposedly to be sweet home —is not an ideal environment for a growing child. How many parents and teachers are trained in student behavior? There are umpteen instances where teachers humiliate students in front of the entire class and when the child reacts, parents are summoned. End result: the child is chastised first by the teachers, then at home for something he has done, or had failed to do. Both parents as well as teachers often lack the sensitivity to understand that a child is unable to comprehend a certain level of academic input because of lack of an appropriate base or non-conducive environment.
Our decision makers seemingly live in a blind alley, professing to improve the lot of the young generation. Counseling has to be a collective exercise, involving parents, teachers and the students. This is a triangle of forces. Any effort on one arm, without involving the others is bound to fail. The hard question is: how many teachers are committed to walk that extra mile to ensure the success of their students? Rather, teachers employ the short way out by filling the school handbook with remarks.
There is an urgent head for teachers as well as parents to have an orientation in child psychology and human behavior. In reality, both need counseling. An integrated approach involving counseling for teachers and parents is a must. Suicides, amongst school children, are often triggered because parents assume success in exams is regarded as the ultimate goal in life.
While the teacher’s assailant was condemned and the media went tom-toming about his exploits, we ought to examine what was going on in the mind of the child after he was arrested. He was a strong candidate for suicide. The Government therefore ought to have an integrated approach to the problem, rather than appointing counselors merely for students. Undoubtedly, these Counselors must be qualified and competent, comprising males and females, who would be allocated a cluster of school in their care. But are the teachers and parents ready to be counseled? This is the challenge