Dear Philipteacher,

The last we met was two years ago, as you know, when Amma & I visited you at your house. I remember when we walked in, you were lying down, clearly tired and drained after a grueling session for the umpteenth time at the hospital where you were undergoing treatment at the time. But as soon as you saw us, your face lit up. You sat upright and welcomed us with your signature smile. The wide toothy smile that defined you always. Your beautiful even teeth always stood out in my memory along with the immensely heartwarming smile that could cheer anyone in school. How glad was I to see that you still had that smile perfectly intact. Despite the strife, despite the struggles life kept throwing at you, you had the perfect weapon to face them head on. Your smile. Your positive outlook towards life. Nothing could run you down.

You know teacher, my love for Chemistry is all thanks to you. It used to be my favourite science subject in school. And even now, after 26 years since I passed out of your class, some of the formulae you taught are on my fingertips. Trust me, if I didnt have to pick Physics and Biology I would have certainly opted for a science stream! :D. Jokes apart, I loved loved loved the subject because you made me fall in love with it with your terrific style of teaching. It was sheer fun to be in your class and learn those formulae and get cracking those chemical equations.

Not just that, you were one of those teachers who never condescended to her students. You always treated us as equals, gave us the space and freedom we deserved so we could grow and learn in the most favourable manner.

But the connect I feel with you is much above all this, teacher. It is through music. You and I both know that. Which is why you will always always hold a special place in my heart. Your vast knowledge in music is something that I have always looked up to. I used to look forward to those annual day celebrations in school whenever they revolved around music and you would be bursting with ideas to share. Or those events where I would be asked to sing and I would look out for your approval of my choice of songs because I knew you’d appreciate whatever I sing.

When we met two years ago, remember you had asked me to sing a song for you? When I had finished singing, you gave me yet another approving, reassuring, incredibly moving smile. I have that image safely tucked in my heart, teacher. And I treasure it that way. Always.

Rest in peace, Teacher.

Courtesy Google Images
Courtesy Google Images

A genuinely concerned parent or an over-reacting one?

I really cant decide what am I being here. Whether my concerns are truly genuine or am I just being plain over-reactive.

Parenting does that to you sometimes, doesnt it? In your need to ensure the well-being of your child, parenting brings you to a juncture where you feel challenged into deciding which path to take so that your child feels reassured and best taken care of in the given circumstances.

Now it was only a few months back that I had praised Namnam’s teachers in her kindergarten for being wonderfully caring and sensitive towards her and helping her work on her confident self. And I stand by my opinion. I really do. I am hugely grateful to them for making my daughter’s kindergarten experience one that of immense fun and learning. And on her graduation day while proudly welling up at seeing her stride towards the stage to accept her passing-certificate, I hoped and prayed in my heart of hearts that she would be blessed with the same kind of teachers and environment with ample space to grow in grade 1 as well.

Theres no doubt that I am glad that I chose the particular school for Namnam because the principles on which the school is being run and the various programmes that the school has in place for its pupils convince me thoroughly as a parent that they would benefit my child in the long run.

But unfortunately I have not been getting a very welcoming vibe from Namnam’s Grade 1 teacher. I cant seem to agree very well with her method of approaching her students. Now I know I have no right to judge her for she has the humongous task of handling 20-25 kids at a time in her class. And I respect her and all the teachers for that because I know how difficult it can be to handle so many children with so many different traits and characteristics.

But the fact also remains that one of her students is my child. And when she comes home crying uncontrollably to say that her teacher wrongly taunted her of dreaming because she was not writing what was being asked of her, I am seriously driven to think if its something I should worry about.

What disturbs me is not that she scolded her. No I have no issues whatsoever with her scolding my child. She has every right to, if my child is in the wrong. I send my child to the school, thereby to her knowing fully well that they expect me to place the trust in them and that she will be their responsibility and if she misbehaves or does anything wrong they would have all the authority to correct her, be stern with her, scold her and even reprimand her if needed. But mock her? Taunt her? Now is that really a good method to get the child to adhere to you?

From what I could gather from Namnam, what upset her the most was that her teacher taunted her in a mocking way in front of her classmates. The best way I could think of to pacify her was to tell her to ignore and practice her writing at home. We told her that her teacher had to be given the same importance as her parents and that if she had scolded her for something, she would also commend her when she did something right. It was important that she didn’t begrudge her teacher.

A similar incident occurred with one of Namnam’s classmates, also a friend’s daughter when she was unable to finish jotting down some notes in her book to which the teacher took a swipe at her by calling her a ‘slow-coach’, after which all her friends kept jibing her with the term. She was inconsolable when she got home and recounted the incident to her mother.

Now I understand that taunts, jibes or pokes by friends and peers are a part of growing up, but is it really healthy when a teacher uses such a tactic to tackle her students? Wouldn’t the confidence level of the child take a hit if he/she is snubbed in front of his/her friends? Every child is different but if he/she is treated with the right kind of sensitivity then will it not make him/her secure and confident?

I dont know if talking to the teacher would help for I fear it may put my child in the spotlight which may counter-react. Or if I should just talk to the principal and address my concerns so he can take it up with the teacher without mentioning the particular ward’s name. But what if the principal brings it up with the teacher specifically mentioning my daughter?

Or maybe I am just over-reacting. May be this is just her way of teaching her children to become tough and more accepting towards criticism.

Maybe I should just leave it as a non-issue.

There are so many conflicting worries cropping up in my mind!