Ever since the case of a Shantiniketan teacher making a minor student lick the bed sheet after she had wetted it while sleeping came into the limelight there has been a hot debate going on in the country whether corporal punishment in the schools be allowed or not.
And this is not an isolated incident. Recently a barbaric teacher ruptured a small kid’s ear. Another one blinded a student. You come across at least five cases every month of teachers committing inhuman brutalities upon their helpless students. In fact they are not teachers, they are psychopaths and criminals.
On FM radio yesterday the DJ was asking various people from Delhi whether it’s okay if a teacher occasionally slaps a kid and most of the parents said they are all right with it, despite the fact that many child rights organizations and psychologists are strictly against it.
This is a complicated issue that does not have an easy answer. The problem is multifaceted. According to tradition the student-teacher relationship is just next to a parent-child relationship. This is tradition and many parents still subscribe to it.
Most of the contemporary teachers give two hoots to this tradition. They are overworked, underpaid and in many cases, even underqualified. In villages, even a plumber can decide to switch jobs and become a teacher. Blame it on materialism or anything else, teachers these days are simply not interested in teaching. They are just doing a job.
On the other hand, kids will always be kids. They do need some kind of disciplining. Treating them like adults and trying to explain everything to them looks good in theoretical books but it is not practical. Kids easily exploit the privileges that they get. So if you give them an upper hand they are certainly going to use this privilege to their own detriment. This is why parents think that it’s okay to occasionally slap a kid as long as it is not harming the kid physically or psychologically.
Getting beaten up is a part of our cultural upbringing. People nostalgically talk about getting a thrashing from father or mother. In fact many rue, “I really wish somebody had slapped me when I was small when I did this wrong thing for the first time.”
We laughingly talk about how our teachers punished us, how they beat us with a scale, with their knuckles. There used to be a teacher in our class (11th standard, government boys senior secondary school) who used to execute a flying kick. Whenever he was upset with you, he would make you turn around, then he would stand up, jump slightly, and while coming down he would very expertly implement a kick on your butt. It wouldn’t hurt much, and the student would just return to his seat winking at others and pretending it meant nothing. The point is, getting beaten up in school is as natural as going to school.
So obviously, the well beaten up parents don’t find it unnatural when their own kids get a slap or two in the class.
But is this acceptable? Isn’t it barbaric?
Again, there is no easy answer. Personally, I would strictly deal with a teacher who raises her or his hand on my daughter. But this is also because I myself don’t believe in hitting a child. It can be frustrating many times, but there need to be other alternatives.