The recent killing of a school teacher by a Class 9 student in Chennai has not only raised serious concerns about the general emotional instability of children, but also about the mental trauma that the boy must have gone through before he fatally attacked the teacher inside the school premises. Obviously, he was bogged down by a sense of helplessness with no means to vent his feelings.
That he is not the only child around who feels that way was brought to light subsequently through a study by a child psychiatrist from CMC, Vellore, Dr Paul Russell, who found that around 25 per cent of school children face emotional problems.
Our education system is such that children are impelled to please a whole range of people — teachers, parents, relatives, neighbours, friends and even their peers — and do not have anyone to whom they can open their hearts.
They try to solve their problems themselves and at times take wrong and drastic decisions. Many students take the suicide route to escape their problems. But is it not preposterous to assume that parents and teachers will not listen to you or that friends and classmates will mock you when you tell them that you have a problem? Even if your parents are not communicative, your teachers are inaccessible and your friends enjoy pulling your leg when you are down, not every one around lacks understanding. If your school does not have a professional counsellor, who is trained to help people sort out their issues, there could be others like relatives, neighbours or acquaintances ready for a patient hearing.
Yes, my simple advice is: Talk, talk it out. Do not let anger build up within you. You may have a justifiable reason to be angry with your teachers or for the matter any body. If adults have been harsh with you, remember that their intentions are good even if the manner in which they put across their ideas is not palatable to you. I am in no way justifying the ‘lack of understanding’ that you may see in elders. They behave that way not just because they are insensitive to your feelings but because they are driven by a desire for results, which in the case of students takes the form of making them study.
True, life does not begin and end with academics. There are other skills to develop in school and many who score low grades succeed in life.
If teachers and parents fail to realise that and treat children ‘shabbily’ for poor performance, do not blame them. Instead, take charge of your life, by taking responsibility for your failures. If you fail to make the grades, you will be pulled up.
Try to put up a better performance next time or take whatever you get in your stride. Do not get angry. Never think of violence as the answer to your woes. Violence has not solved any problems, anywhere. Wars and terrorism have only compounded problems.
Perhaps the Chennai tragedy is a wake-up call for adults, who should be prepared to change their approach towards children but it should also make students realise that getting emotional will take them nowhere.
In my view, a good teacher is one who treats the backbencher and the lowest scorer on par with the topper. Similarly, good students are those who understand that a teacher’s expectation for good grades and discipline is only to ensure a better future for the student.