Recently, I read To Sir With Love by E. R. Braithwaite. Published in 1959, it is based on true events in the life of Mr. Braithwaite who takes up the job as a teacher in the East End of London and how he deals with a challenging class. The book also touches the burning issue of that time – the discrimination based on colour. But with every page, it highlights the fundamental aspects of human life, love and respect and how can they work wonders even for a class of disrespectful, undereducated teenagers.
I enjoyed every bit of this book because I could relate this class with my own class to some extent. Though the days have passed, we can still find such lot of learners around us, who we encounter with in this book.
We have witnessed many major shifts in Education concerning with methodology, content and objectives. From the teacher-led classrooms demanding discipline and a strict code of conduct, the focus has been on learner centred classrooms where the shackles of discipline are minimised in the name of positive learning atmosphere. Many theories, researches have emphasised the need of putting learners at the core of the teaching-learning process. And the provision of legal protection to learners from any kind of physical punishment also reinforces this. But the other side of this coin reveals the harshness of behavioral problems of our learners which are certainly not negligible.
But is punishment the only way to tackle this problem? With my little experience, I strongly deny the option of punishment as a solution to such problems. In fact, the kind of atmosphere cultivated in the school in To Sir With Love is quite praiseworthy. In stead of focusing on mugging up texts and passing the exams, this school believes in nurturing human beings to be able to survive in the outside world that too in a far early period. For this, the learners are not only allowed to act as they please but also they are barred from any kind of punishment.
In our present context, we too find such problems getting worse day by day. The reasons are known by all like ‘the all time protective shield of parent’s love’ and ‘easily quenched desires’. Today we deal with a generation of super smart kids and teens but lacking basic morals and manners and with a little care for others. Many will agree that it’s definitely not an easy task handling such classes. Especially, when the world around us is loosing these values and morals, how can we shape and nurture our learners who are going to be a part of this self centered and carefree world of tomorrow?
Previously, schools were the centres implementing strict discipline and punishment was the inseparable part of it. But the learner psychology discarded this concept of punishment layered under discipline. For some, this reform has allowed the learners to act care free. But little do they realise the power and place of love and trust in shaping and nurturing our learners.
If we analyse the scenario,we will find the learners obsessed with the need of proving self identity, eager to voicing out the inner thoughts, loaded with frustration coming out of the cutthroat competition and drifting in the ocean of high level expectations endlessly. They need a listening ear ready to hear them and a comforting shoulder to support them and more than anything else a heart full of love. They too have feelings and self respect. The act of punishments might satisfy our purpose of discipline, but that shatters their delicate minds and affects their confidence. Instead open discussions with them help them realise their errors and thus affecting their future course of actions. There is a hidden cause behind every action of theirs and we have to know it before taking any action. They too long for attention and they all have a story. Maybe we can play a small but significant role in it and make them feel special. Respecting their views, makes them more responsible and gives them the sense that they (learners) too matter. So being in their shoes and viewing the world through their eyes is the need of the hour and a way to connect with them.
Like Mr. Braithwaite, who succeeded in transforming his class from a group of misbehaving brats to thoughtful and aspiring individuals, I hope every teacher finds his/her way to nourish his/her learners with love!!!!