Teacher’s day? Me says no thanks

All PMs are eminent and important figures – arguably the most important in the country. But are they figures who have a lot to teach, instruct or tell children on Teacher’s Day?

shantanu

Shantanu Datta | September 3, 2014



I have never liked Teacher's Day. If you ask me, though there's little reason why you would do so and even less reason why I would ask you to enquire of me, a teacher's day – in lower case, mind you – should be meant for teachers only. Students should ideally have nothing to do with it. Like seniors and senior citizens have little role to play on Children's Day.

In my time, most (I am chary of using the world ‘all’) schools used – or misused, depending on where you stand on the rickety boat – the day as a mock education day. So, students used to teach fellow students for a short while, sweets and snacks would be distributed, and everyone went home – most a bit early than regular school hours – to do what children actually want to do. Play or read or chat.

But that was in my time, when schools were little better than jail with corporal punishment not banished and teachers hitting you left, right and centre, depending on the day of the week – is it Monday or Tuesday? Get hit on the left side of the body. Tuesday, Wednesday could be reserved for the right to cry foul, followed by the... Well, truth be told they rarely, if ever, hit you on the centre, though I had this Sanskrit teacher who would squeeze the tummy of the boys if you failed to answer any of the question-aanti. And boy! did it hurt; partly because my tummy has always been bog and also because my knowledge of Sanskrit till date is only slightly better than zilch. I know the spelling of the language.

I have zero knowledge what schools do these days.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, very few students, especially young ones, want extra classes, extra tension or extra gyaan. So, barring the toppers, would-be toppers and wannabe toppers in a class, it is safe to assume that most students would want to go home this Friday at regular time. If need be, and if they feel like, they would watch the prime minister’s interaction with “school children of Delhi schools in person in Delhi & through satellite link at NIC centres” between 3 pm and 4.45 pm at home.

There’s little need to hold students back in school till 5 pm, as government/municipal schools have been directed by the Delhi government’s directorate of education through a circular issued on August 29 (you can see that circular here: http://www.edudel.nic.in/upload_2013_14/25983_25994_dt_29082014.pdf).

While HRD minister Smriti Irani has tried to clarify that it is not mandatory for schools to make children watch Narendra Modi’s speech, and that it is “completely voluntary”, reports say that most institutions are taking no chances.

There is no denying the fact that children need to see, hear and learn more. And one is not even arguing that children should have nothing to do with administration, politics and politicians. But what they can learn from a prime minister’s speech, tailored, it seems, specifically for them, is anybody’s guess.

If voting is done in a fair number of schools across the country, I am sure a large chunk of students would come up short in spelling out who S Radhakrishnan was, while most would say they might like to hear him – but within school hours.

The prime minister is a present figure – as against Radhakrishnan being in the past tense; he is an eminent and important figure – arguably the most important in the country. But is he a figure who has a lot to teach, instruct or tell children? Anecdotes about how education is important and how most people in the past generations had to struggle to get it are extremely important. But that isn’t something novel for students – especially a vast chunk of students in government, aided, municipal or panchayat schools who come from lower-middle, lower or the poorer class for whom few things are a breeze.

But, then, I am getting ahead of myself perhaps; perhaps it is not for me to prejudge a PM’s interaction/speech; perhaps many students, their parents and teachers would appreciate his gesture of finding time for the children; many might enjoy the interaction and find it useful. But then don’t call it the Teacher’s Day address. Or change the way it has been celebrated till date – as I began: students should ideally have nothing to do with this day.

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