KOCHI: Like every other year, the schools reopened on June 1. However, for English teacher Arooja Denny, things were different. Yes, she did prepare for the lecture, but this time, there were no students in front of her. Instead, there were cameras and a technical crew. In fact, she needed to do multiple takes to teach the same portion. After all, the shot had to be perfect to go online.
On June 1, schools in Kerala started classes for students via online mediums and the KITE Victers Channel. Arooja was one of the teachers who led classes on this virtual cast. A teacher of Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, Poovachal, Thiruvananthapuram, Arooja was giving video lectures for the first time. She is quite excited about the positive feedback from students and parents.
“It took us a lot of work. We do a lot of homework before conducting lectures offline. But here, the challenge was real. We had to pretend that children were in front of us,” she says. “The portions were edited by the SCERT director, who vetted the lessons and gave us constructive feedback,” she adds. The teacher had to keep the students’ short attention span in mind. “We had to successfully engage students. So, we added a lot of videos and collages. Also, this wasn’t a mere lecture. We tried eliciting answers,” she says.
Arooja’s lectures went viral all over Kerala. Soon, a lot of social media users started using her photographs to make memes and troll her mercilessly, with some calling her ‘Blue Sari Teacher’. A lot of them even had abusive, sexual undertones. Instagram, saw almost 48 fan accounts created for Arooja in a day. The teacher was quite oblivious to the trolling and preferred not to comment on this. However, activists and social media users soon started calling out these accounts and the trolls who were making fun of her.
“It is unfortunate to see people misusing the clips from these videos,” says Rose Mary, an admin of feminist meme page Too Much Equal. “However, it is not shocking. Our society only appreciates a woman for her physical appearance rather than her skills. Probably, all trolls must attend the lectures because they are quite educative,” she says.
The Kerala Police, however, were quick to react. On Monday evening, they put up a post on their social media handle saying that strict action would be taken against those who misuse the photographs of teachers.