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Teacher's pet, is that you?

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Teachers and students share a very peculiar relationship. I am not sure if it is an universal scenario- and I hope even if it is, it would change- but I have seen teachers at school play the favouritism game with students. If the student is good at studies or excels at sports or is a crowd-puller at cultural fests or is a combination of all the above, he/she is bound to get a special treatment from the teachers. Have you known someone who is weak in studies and who is not particularly good in the limited extra-curricular arena that he/she is exposed to in school being a favourite with the teachers? It is also probably human tendency to be attracted to someone or something that is pleasant or perfect at least in the superficial context. But shouldn't teachers behave differently? After all they are entrusted with the enormous duty of molding the future generation. Apart from imparting education and values, it is also impertinent that they instil self-esteem and self-confidence in a child.

I was a shy and timid girl in my childhood, at least upto my pre-teens. I rarely spoke up in school and would clam up when the teacher would ask me a question even if I knew the answer. I doubt if any teacher would have recognized me outside the classroom. Then something changed in secondary school, when I was in class 8. There were announcements of a singing competition to be held and names were requested of those who would be interested. It took a lot of courage on my part to give my name for the very thought of singing in front of about 500 students made my feet and hands go cold. But I went ahead and gave a decent performance too. I didn't win the competition that year. But a lot changed after that. Teachers who never knew I existed, for whom I was just another average student in a class of 60, took notice of me. Suddenly I had a distinct face and a name that would instantly come to the mind when one sees it. It was like magic and the magic worked both ways. I began to shed the shell of shyness around me and made conscious efforts to speak up and made sure I got noticed. This change was gradual and perhaps there were other factors too that led to the persona change in me but the acceptance and validation in the maze of other equally talented bunch of peers made a huge difference.

Every average person knows how important it is to feel accepted and being told to that someone is proud of him/her and sees potential in him/her. And a person who has remained an underdog knows it even more. What about the scores of little minds that go unnoticed? what about undiscovered talents that do not come under the common league of sports, dancing and singing and of course academics? Every child has a unique talent within that needs to be discovered and nurtured. Valuing oneself is an important lesson that is sadly not taught at schools. Having a sense of self-worth is akin to having oxygen to breathe. It is easy and only natural to promote and encourage kids that are already excelling but it is important to create an atmosphere where every kid is encouraged to hold his/her own. Teachers ought to shoulder part of this burden and maintain a neutral self with the students. It is not an easy task and such things might take a long time before the person himself recognizes and responds to his/her true calling in life.

Comments

  1. I felt as if i was reading my own story... like you, even i was a very shy and reserved as a student.. Academically i was an above student but there were a lot like me... those who were extrovert and interactive attracted more attention... for me, things changed when i discovered my musical skills... it was this talent of mine that separated from rest of the students... n till now, my teachers remember me more as a violinist and less as a good student...

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  2. Thank you dear Uma for your loving words on my space :-) I so agree with ur article here. I am also one of the average types who started shining much later in life. I used to quiet a sensitive girl and would feel the pinch of favoritism. If only some of the teachers were equally loving. I recently came to know about a school called "Mirambika" which runs on Sri Aurobindo's philosophy. They encourage the real talent of the children to come out and believe in making them stronger from the inside, the core, than just making them competitive. I have met a few mirambikans and indirectly know some and I can see the difference.

    Also one info for u. One of my acquaintance, based in Bangalore, runs a non-profit org called "United Arts Society" which is into art based education and organizes fun based education events and activities for children. They have a web site. (sorry don;t have it handy right now :-)) You might want to check it for ur lil one sometime later :-)

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  3. So true Uma. I have seen and experienced this. Some teachers show so much partiality that it tends to destroy the confidence of the shy students.

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  4. Radhika: wow, you're a violonist..tht's so cool.
    It's so sad that we need to have special talents to be noticed by even teachers in schools.

    Sharada: Hey, you're most welcome. I am impressed with the school you mentioned. There is a school called "Valley School" in Blore that runs on the great philosopher J.Krishnamurti's principles..very much on the lines of Mirambika. Thank you so much for the information. Will be interested to know more about United Arts Society.
    Yeah, I so understand what you say. Have been an underdog and late bloomer myself..:-)

    Tan: It's a sad plight then. Don't know if it is got to do with the teacher-student ratio, that it requires the student to strive and clamour for the teacher's attention.

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  5. Correctly said Uma! There were favoured students in my class too. The high Rankers. They were such huge pets, that even when they resorted to passing supplements for copying during exams, they were turned a blind eye to! I was really hurt by that.

    It takes a lot of courage to build confidence and make a place for urself. Few of them can do it. I did it only during my college times. No wonder I dislike my school life. There was no encouragement from the teachers, only ignorance.

    It is a sad plight that many talents remain unearthed, which may really be worth nurturing!

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  6. Uma, this so brought back memories of my school days - such a common occurrence for most of us I'm sure. I remember this set of boys who always used to score the "highest" ranks and were the teacher's favourites, and I was so thrilled when in the board exam, I managed to beat some of them in a couple of subjects ;).

    Nice thought provoking one this one is definitely!

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  7. Very rightly said Uma, it's sad but seen and experienced so often. The hurt of not being noticed stays forever and on so many occasions cause irreparable damage to the self-esteem of the young students.

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  8. Purnima: cheating was overlooked? that's crazy.
    I never thought writing was my forte even though I scored well in English. Shows, our education system sucks somewhere too!

    Aparna: wow! you topped in some subjects in your board exams?..*bows down*

    dialoguewithyou: Hi welcome here!
    It's a lop-sided system where one is encouraged to swallow tons of useless information but the basic ingredient of nurturing the mind and soul is left missing.
    Thanks for reading and please do keep visiting!

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  9. A very thoughtful post.. I'm not sure how I handled favoritism or even if I tried to handle because much started happening during my teens and i think i did not even give it a thought.. That said, i notice this happen in my son's school.. There are days when he'd come home emphatically and announce how his chart /project was the best and all that.. But when asked what his teacher had to say about it, he'd shrug and say that she did not notice:) Fortunately, he has still not been affected by it, or doesn't seem to mind.. I don't know if its best for him to stay that way or fight it out and get himself noticed.. There is another thing of the boy dreading attention too.. Weird family i know!

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  10. Awesome post....important topic...wondered about this myself too...in my school this was the constant complaint we had especially ppl who had good handwriting....they got away even with murder !! :D

    Same story through out my school days...favouritism was the norm with many teachers...except a couple of them...I will never forget my 8-10th std English teacher...She was the ideal teacher....no favouritism...even if you were one who failed the subject but pointed out a nuance in a prose/poetry lesson....she/he was applauded...and the way she taught shakespeare ..I still remember her lessons......so all was not bad in her class...so there is still hope ..I hope :)

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  11. Every kid has a childhood story; every kid has such a story. :)

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  12. Vidya: Thanks Vidya :-)
    If his teacher deliberately ignored the "good" project so that she seemed neutral vis-a-vis to the "not so good" ones, then I think am OK. Even, if not, then Vyas's attitude is bang on. It's best if it doesn't affect him and doesn't correlate his self-worth with his teacher's approval.

    Arvind: Thanks :-) seriously, imagine ppl like me who had (have) pathetic handwriting. And I used to envy those who could draw well too. Somehow their diagrams would draw them more marks in spite of lesser content! that's a different issue I guess.

    Prateek: It is a sorry state of affairs if every kid relives his school days such..

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