Driving in Bangalore is tiring. After a long drive from one corner of the city to another, I was late to school for my children's PTM. I was half running on the ramp where I saw my good friend, Anu. I hurriedly gestured a hi, but couldn't help notice her pale face. Since I was already late I didn't stand there to enquire, instead I went straight up the stairs to my son's class room.
Later that evening, I called Anu. I was worried after seeing her so pale. When she heard my voice on the other side of the phone, she broke down. She has a son Sid, who has 'Learning disorder'. He is dyslexic and dysgraphic. Thanks to the motherly instincts, she identified the problem in Sid at a very early age. She met a child counselor and took all the necessary measures to help the child cope with the curriculum. However, the child has his own limitations. For, a disability is a disability!
Religiously at the beginning of every academic year, Anu carries all the necessary reports of Sid and discusses with the concerned teachers seeking necessary classroom support.
However at the PTM, when Anu met the class teacher and saw Sid's papers, she was devastated to see marks being cut for every spelling mistake and for his handwriting. The answer sheets that she held in her hand said that either the teachers didn't understand Sid's problem or they simply didn't care. However, Anu on her repeated attempts, tried explaining to the teacher that Sid has a difficulty in writing. And she requested the teacher to ignore his spellings. She also requested if they could conduct oral tests for him.
The mother's cry went unheard. On the contrary, the teacher said "He is not able to cope with the curriculum, you should consider a special school for Sid". Anu sat there blank and helpless, a special school for Sid!!!??? - All that the teacher had to do was ignore his writing. Why should he be sent to a special school???
Anu had failed; failed again in convincing the teacher that Sid was not a child with special educational needs or with severe learning difficulties, physical disabilities or behavioural problems. He does not need a special school!
However, she chose to ignore the rude and ignorant teacher. But there was a bigger problem. The child faced a lot of humiliation at school. The teachers insulting him, making insensitive remarks about his writing. He was ignored by his classmates during the group activities conducted in the class. Nobody wanted Sid in their group. None wanted to play with him and used strong words like "Loser" and "Failure". The child was loosing his self confidence. He barely spoke to anyone at class and looked for reasons to skip school. The child is deprived of his own chidhood!
I felt very sad for Sid, he is a very pleasant, lovable and a well mannered child. He was very talented too. He goes to theater classes and does wonderful performance! He is a powerful orator too!
Why aren't his capabilties appreciated? Why is he being judged on his disabilities? If the teacher was sensitive to Sid's difficulty, she could have made an attempt to appreciate the abilities in him in front his class mates, so that the children too would be supportive of him and Sid would be a confident child today. It was not necessary for the teacher to taunt the child repeatedly for his disabilities. Teachers are compared to Gods, Being in one of the most humble professions, they carry a huge responsibility of delivering responsible, educated and sensitive citizens to the country. As parents, we are raising the future of this country and the teachers have a very big role to play in this by being equal partners with parents. The tender minds should be fed with lots of love, knowledge, ethics, and humility not arrogance and hatred. In a land of great teachers like prof. Radhakrishna, and prof.Abdul kalam who taught the nation to dream, we are a witness to such shameful incidents! The severe dearth for qualified and trained teachers is causing an irreparable damage to the society.
"Na Guror adhikam daivam" (There is no bigger God than teacher)
Teachers, please stand up to it!