CHENNAI: The conversation everywhere is centred around the dreaded corona. Quarantine, social distancing, lockdown and shutdown are words that have been regularly tumbling out of the lexicon closet. And, the unexpected advancement of the holiday season for school-going children is one of the tiny thorns on the uneasy corona, sorry, I meant crown, for parents.
Videos on homeschooling, do-it-yourself craft techniques, how to combat boredom among kids and what to teach them, have been vying for space in the already-sagging social media cloud, along with downloads of colouring books and guidance apps. There was a rather nasty WhatsApp forward of a meme that had “smiling parents before corona” and “hair-splitting bickering parents after corona”! These seemingly light-hearted forwards are indicative of such explosions at homes due to the implosion of the virus.
Parents seem to be fretting as they have been forced to take the brunt of this stress of handling kids at home throughout the day. Their most tempting option is, of course, the most trusted, loyal twin babysitters — television and gaming gadgets. But homeschooling in the form of e-learning/online assignments has been thrust on them. Parents have been so used to packing kids off to school, only having to “worry” about how to spend time with them during the weekends and summer/winter holidays. Even during that time, they enrol their wards into multiple classes to “keep them occupied”. Or is it to keep them away from home?
So what can one hope from this complete shutdown? I would say it may help these parents realise the importance of the exalted people who spend the entire day with their wards, patiently navigating them through the three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic), listening to their problems and sometimes counselling them too. These temporary day guardians don multiple roles of friend, philosopher and guide. Yes, we are talking about teachers. Coming out of a parent-teacher meeting hall, one will almost always find many parents badmouthing the teachers and schools because they might have heard unsavoury words about their wards.
In fact, many parents do not even maintain the decorum as they readily shoot their mouth off about the “bad teachers” in front of their wards, a very dangerous trend that often leads to children not caring to respect their day-guardians. Today, these parents, hopefully, will understand and respect these teachers, who have been filling in as guardians during the day, in fact, for the most part of the day, looking after their wards, disciplining them, hammering arithmetic and grammar into their heads, and (now they will realise) for even “tolerating” them.
They are the ladders, on whom students climb to achieve their goal. But these teachers remain where they are without too much of a difference in their position or pay.Probably, apart from teaching us the virtues of personal hygiene, corona can teach us reverence to these unsung real superheroes of our children. They don’t wear a cape to fight the aliens. They arm themselves with patience and knowledge to fight ignorance.
This goes out to all teachers who have devoted their lives and paid more attention to their profession than their paycheque. After all, teaching is the only profession that creates all other professions.