Once upon a time, teachers were treated with respect. They resembled something close to God, both in a student’s life and in the position they held in society. People regarded them with reverence, appreciation, and gratitude. Most of the time, they were worthy role models, the sort people aspired to become. Most of the time, they occupied the most significant place in a student’s life. In the present, however, when anyone can learn anything, everyone forgets the importance of teaching and the teachers’ responsibility and role in one’s life.
The teacher’s role—the overworked, the underpaid, and with the most profound teachers’ responsibility is of shaping young minds—shrinks under everyone’s gaze and becomes something that everyone can so easily dismiss as if what they do is so easy and imitable. Anyone can do it, right? No, not right. Not right at all. But this is not all the child’s fault. Oh no.
Sometimes, the child is more respectful than everyone else. No, the real problem, often, is the parents. The privileged, the entitled, the ones who think they run the school—no, who think they run lives—because of the amount of money they pay annually. Oh, yes, remember them? They are everywhere. They are swarms of locusts, who will put all the teachers out of their jobs with enough firepower. And then, we would have what?
Now, imagine this:
Your favorite teacher. Maybe she is an old teacher, or perhaps, she is still teaching you. But she is excellent. She is funny and fun, so smart, and she has a brilliant smile and a bright, sparkling voice that makes everyone want to listen to her. Every time she walks into class, everyone goes quiet out of respect. Everyone sits in rapt attention. Everyone does their homework. Maybe she teaches English. Or Math or Physics.
But it is the class of everyone’s dreams. Even if they did not like the subject, they love her. They like how she draws diagrams on the blackboard, and how she always has a fun activity in mind, and how she is so, so patient, willing to teach one student at a time. Years later, when school memories fade, and you cannot, for the life of you, remember the phases of Mitosis, you will still remember her. Sounds beautiful, right?
Now, let us take a moment to imagine her life.
Your favorite teacher, growing up, probably had greater ambitions than being a teacher. Or, maybe, all she wanted in her life was to become one. But she is here, anyway, and there is no point dwelling on the past. She is good at what she does. She works at a school that is good enough; she has a good life, good colleagues, good friends. The salary is a little average, but who’s getting paid like they are supposed to these days? It is nothing to complain about, not yet, at least. So, she manages several classes, each with a set of forty kids.
Each so different from the other, so vibrant, so wonderful to teach. Well, most of the time, anyway. But even with all that difference, there is always that one child in every class. He is a little spoiled and a little angry all the time. He thinks he is too good for school, even though the boy does not have the grades to show his arrogance. And even though he does not know who he is, the boy thinks he is better than everyone else. Your favorite teacher loves all of her kids, but children like him only make her sad. They are so clearly a product of their parents, their neglect, their disapproval.
Those parents who stride into the classroom, an air of superiority and expensive perfume following them, on one of those rare occasions, they manage to attend a parent-teacher conference. They are both working parents. They spend more time on their phones than they do out of them. They do not know anything that is going on in their child’s life, and they are not here to listen. At any point in time, your favorite teacher mentions an academic or behavioral transgression, they pounce. Why? Their money makes them entitled.
According to them, the worth of the school fees they pay measures the school’s responsibility, and teachers must take the responsibility to shape the boy into a capable person. To them, it means teachers have to play the surrogate parent. To them, it means money absolves them from any responsibility they might have. But the problem runs deeper than that. The tragic fact that these parents never saw the need to put their child before their client. It stems from the possibility that their child was never a priority, and for them, parenting was never the goal—instead, getting a promotion was.
So, they never had a vision for parenting. They never had dreams about what their child could grow up to be, ideals about who he would become, or aspirations for the things he would achieve. They just assumed it would be up to him to figure it out.
So, your teacher, she tries to explain to them what is wrong. She tries to tell them he is distracted and needs love and encouragement to become better, both academically and as a person. In the most diplomatic way possible, she tries to explain to them that they need to be a strong presence in his life. It is the parent’s responsibility to teach them values and not the teachers’ responsibility. It is not something you hand-off to a teacher. She tries to persuade them to look past the superficiality of his marks card and look deeper into who he is
But all they see is red, all their glaring faults thrown in their faces. And it is not that they do not love their child, but it is just that they have no idea how. But these things are mendable. They only need to try. They need to look past all the distractions–the television, their social media profiles, their Google calendar–and focus on the things that matter so that their child might do the same.
Perhaps, the teacher’s words did not get to them immediately, but it will get to them one day. And if she has succeeded, one day, just like you, they will remember her and be immensely grateful.