An open letter to the teachers of my daughter

My dear teachers,

It appears you had difficulty understanding my daughter, and being her responsible father, who may clearly see her flaws and weaknesses, I am trying to reply to some of the direct and indirect questions you posed to my daughter during the last one year. Before I begin, I would like to remind you that maybe my child is having some problems related to carelessness and she may be less focused compared with your favourite children, but each child is unique and has their own aptitude to bring to the world. Our duty is to help the child bring out those talents and encourage them to develop their own individuality. All the time we don't have to agree with them but making them understand the same with a little care and support may give them more confidence to explore ideas on their own.

You had a problem why my daughter laughs a lot. Please permit me to mention here that now her unfortunate father is searching for her lost smile for the last few months. I am sorry for the inconvenience (which you may have considered trouble), if any, you had because of my daughter, but it should be understood how much she means to me. I taught her to laugh when she is happy, I taught her to laugh when she is sad, I taught her to laugh when things do not happen as she wanted and I taught her to laugh at herself every time she made a mistake. 

You made a strange discovery that my little girl is having giraffe legs. As she is growing so fast, I sometimes wonder where my little girl is. I taught her that she should stand tall and be confident and proud and never feel any fear; she still has to walk a million miles to achieve all her dreams and goals. You told her that the entire staffroom knows that she would walk up to the Principal if you scold her. A fact you must know is that with God's love in her heart and parents' courage in her soul, and your school's Principal as her ideal, she feels comfortable to open her mind. In fact, I see her as one of millions of kids who will build a strong and happy India. Today we need our young people to speak their mind, not just listen to the leaders, but ask questions, tough questions, so tomorrow they become a source of courage and happiness to others.

Its seems you always find her a happy-go-lucky girl student with a bad handwriting who also keeps her bag and books carelessly in the classroom. I may agree with you here but cracking jokes about her and asking her best friend how she could tolerate my little child is unbecoming of you as a teacher and such behaviour is unwarranted and uncalled for.

During the last PTA, you had a complaint that my child is always interested in taking part in the school's extracurricular activities and annual day functions. To the best of my knowledge, students should always be advised to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports, debates and discussions, because these activities would help in all-round personality development. I am also surprised that in this 21st century you still follow the age-old formula as they say in Hindi: "Kheloge kudoge hoge kharab".

Just a few days ago, during her final exams, you asked the classroom whether anyone had any query regarding the question paper and when my daughter raised her hand, it appears you told her that she herself is a problem thus belittling her in the class and giving the classroom a chance to laugh at her cost, and this was not the first time she faced this humiliation. I am deeply sad to say your unwarranted behaviour shattered her confidence and now she hesitates to ask even basic questions. I am still wondering if the school authorities have bestowed upon you any right to belittle my child in front of her class. All children are God's gift and as a teacher you should have the patience to treat them all alike and to instil in them loads and loads of confidence, but not to shatter it.

The mental abuse of a child is as bad and dangerous as physical punishment. Because it could put a comma, maybe even a full stop, to her mental growth and development.

Don't you understand that by your unkind and unreasonable behaviour you are stalling the mental development of a child through your misunderstanding of a corrigible deficiency in a child? I hope you agree that making fun of a student repeatedly in front of her classmates is as bad as mental torture. Such behaviour on the part of a teacher is deplorable and such a person does not deserve to be called a teacher. By such behaviour, you are in fact stalling their growth instead of allowing them to blossom. Perhaps the school and the society can do better without such teachers if they do not mend their ways.

In conclusion, I would like to say that the teacher instead of insulting and rebuking children in front of their class (and thereby stalling their mental growth) should work for the development of the children. Instead of belittling them, help them understand about the wonderful gift of human life, build strong roots in them about the social, ethical and moral values of life, about their positive participation in the inclusive growth of school life, family, society and the nation. Teachers who cannot participate in building the life of the students have no place in society. The society is in need of teachers who treat their student with an equal eye, love, compassion, understanding and consideration, and not teachers who belittle them in front of their class and thereby destroy their confidence and future.

A teacher has to be full of love and compassion towards his/her students and treat them as his/her own children and work for their all round personality development. For your relief, I would like to inform you that I am withdrawing my daughter from your school and for my little happiness, my daughter, is responding well to the counsellor and now she has agreed to leave this school with the condition that she will visit all her friends once a month. I am sad to say your sarcasm won once again and another poor child lost, but hopefully after reading this letter you may consider putting a full stop, and not a comma, to incidents like this.

(Rahul Verma is founder of the grassroots non-profit Uday Foundation, fully dedicated to children, health and human rights.)

Mar 20, 2014, 09.52PM IST Times of India

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