Positive disciplining a casualty of RTE?

The task of positive disciplining will be trickier for the new age teachers, who are already grappling with the new found malaise of increasing student aggression on teachers.

With “corporal punishment” and “mental harassment” punishable under the new Right to Education Act, many educators are left nonplussed.

Yes, most of them believe sparing the rod need not necessarily spoil the child, but how can teachers abdicate their prime responsibility of shaping young lives through positive discipline?

Nooraine Fazal, Managing Trustee of Inventure Academy school, insists the overall culture of an institution is important - it has to be friendly yet firm. The satisfaction survey conducted every year in her school reveals that the “Best teachers” are always those who are the most firm with their students.  

Trained teachers are capable of identifying triggers of deviant behaviour. Moreover, age-specific interventions are also important. But, in the absence of a clear definition of what constitutes mental harassment under the new law, teachers and institutions should not be put in a tight spot and prevented from discharing their duty, she argues.

School principal Mallika Sen, who has also served premier institutions like Aga Khan Foundation and Valley School, says modern day teachers have many more challenges to tackle than the conventional teachers who relied on time-tested methods. Present day teachers need to double up as counsellers as there is a growing trust deficit between ever busy parents and their children.

Before that, the teachers themselves need a lot of help to  become better listeners as only then would they be able to better understand tell tale signs of a student’s aggressive behaviour and where it is coming from  - the home of the student or from a relationship that is not working.

Children are constantly exposed to media, films, books and online games which revolve around winning by killing as many competitors as possible.

Moreover, teachers are no longer looked upon as the fountain head of knowledge. Gone are the days of blind obedience. If today’s children are able to question their parents, elders and siblings, they see their teachers too as adults and wonder why they cannot be questioned.

So, teachers have to be proactive and not only recognise the signs of conflict or turmoil within a student group but also use reasoning and carefully explain  the consequences of wrong actions. More often than not, student aggression is the culmination of years of relationship between a teacher and student manifesting itself in a strong reaction.

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