The changing relationship

The changing relationship

The changing relationship

One of the toughest and most under-valued jobs in today’s world is that of a teacher.
Though teachers hold the responsibility of shaping the future of students, some see this profession easier than others. 

With the changing times, the relationship of the student and teacher has also changed — there have been reports of sexual harassment charges on teachers and suicide threats by students, incidents that were previously unheard of. On the occasion of Teachers’ Day, Metrolife speaks to some educators about this shift in perception over the years.

For Veena Thimmaiah, who has taught at various art and design institutes for the last 23 years, respect for the teacher has come down since she began working.

“There was more respect in the past and students were actually frightened of us. People like me don’t want to be frightening. But this generation is quite informal — they don’t put you on a pedestal but at the same time, are more confiding,” she says.

She adds that as a mother, she sees her school-going children jumping to attention whenever their teacher passes. But Veena, who is the faculty member of Army Institute of Fashion and Design, does not see this change in attitude as a bad thing.

“It depends on how you handle your students because ultimately, you have to move with the times. I don’t think that kids can be spoken to on arbitrary terms anymore. By the time I’ve finished a lecture, they already verify the facts on the Internet and have questions ready. That keeps you on your toes as a teacher,” explains Veena.

There’s also the young brigade that comprises people who joined the profession soon after completing their own education.

“Being a young teacher, students expect more of a friendly relationship. In class, I have to be strict and make sure they listen to me. But it is fun interacting with their generation and I even hang out with some of them outside class,” informs Anushree Dhandhania, who has taught mathematics at Mount Carmel College (PU) for the last two years.

Suparna Sengupta, the English teacher at Jyoti Nivas College, feels that the change in student-teacher relationship is a reflection of the way society has changed.

“The change we see has its own merits but also poses the danger of indiscipline. I never imagined that students could talk in class while the teacher was talking or not show any hint of apology when they’re asked to get out of class. But that devil-may-care attitude is brought in from their domestic space. If there are over-bearing parents thrusting high expectations on their kids, they are bound to rebel,” notes Suparna.

She has also noticed a change in the role of the teacher.

“We are no longer educators but mediators in class. We have to be careful about sensitising students to issues and treat them as adults from a certain age. There’s no
point talking down to them and we have to learn to
step down from the pedestal,” she concludes.