Ritwiz Gaur and Ashi Gaur
Winston Churchill once observed that “to every man, there comes in his life-time that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered that chance to do a very special thing, unique to him and fitted to his talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for that which would be his finest hour.”
Quoted in Maj Gen Stephen R. Lorenz, “Lorenz on Leadership,”
How blessed We are!
A “figuratively tap on the shoulder” and “an offer for a chance to do a very special thing, unique to us and fitted to our talents” has already been bestowed upon “We-the Adults” by the Almighty in our capacity as Parents and Educators.
Ipso facto, it is our onerous and solemn duty to self-evaluate and introspect – Whether we are “qualified” and “prepared”enough for “that finest hour”?
“We-the adults” (educators and parents)are in absolute concurrence in regard to our cherished vision for our children – a “progressive career” and “impeccable character and integrity”. The very consensus forms the basis of our partnership which signifies that ‘We must act in unison’.
Might be the degrees vary, but there is no iota of doubt to the fact that the Parents are the expert on the child and educator is the expert on the curriculum; and naturally mutual coordination and trust play a very important role in this sacrosanct journey.
To an extent, there is an agreement in adults fraternity to the fact (which is axiomatic also) that present generation of students is comparatively better equipped in terms of rationality, technology and resourcefulness but simultaneously more vulnerable to complexities, distractions, insecurities and perplexities.
Interestingly, such an extra-ordinary genre of students, sometimes (narrowly construed!) adopt “innocent’ evasive approach by creating ‘admirable fallacy’ whenever they “smell” the possibility of their personal accountability on any count – irrespective of the place, whether home or at school.
Logically, such innocent evasive approach if endorsed and reinforced by any adult gradually pave the way of “teenage experimenting a fallacy” towards a “regular habit and permanent behavioural pattern”; which can be counter-productive to “envisioned” objective and consequently end up into unyielding “onus shifting” syndrome.
Unfortunately, as both a teacher and a parent, we have observed many parent-teacher interactions turning adversarial and unproductive time after time, even when both parties have positive intentions.
“Change is the elixir of Life”, but, in today’s transition epoch, the concept of ‘schooling’ and ‘parenting’ has radically metamorphosed.
Once upon a time, educators were educators and parents were parents. Educators taught children how to read and write, add and divide, draw a sketch and frame a sentence, kick a football or hit with bat, and dissect a lab specimen; parents (that largely encompass grandparents) taught practical life skills, values, and beliefs and the stories from epic and myth. Roles and responsibilities were clearly defined.
But, interestingly the boundaries which initially started shifting are now altogether turned blurred.
In premises of such peculiar circumstances, “We-the adults” need to recognize this opportunity for its philosophical object and must strengthen the nexus of obligation -for welfare and paramount interest of our children’s future- by self-realizing the joint liability synod rum.
Self-realization for “We-the educators”
“We-the educators” must be in true accord and must commit to aspirations of each of parents as voiced in the letter (earlier claimed to be by the father of Abraham Lincoln; and later counter-claimed as by Thomas E. Scwartz in a bylined article, “Lincoln Never Said That,” for the Winter 2001 issue of For the People):
“He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, all men are not true.
But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero;
that for every selfish Politician, there is a dedicated leader…
Teach him for every enemy there is a friend,Steer him away from envy,
if you can, teach him the secret of quiet laughter.
Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest to lick…
Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books…
But also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky,bees in the sun, and the flowers on a green hillside.
In the school teach him it is far honourable to fail than to cheat…
Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong…
Teach him to be gentle with gentle people, and tough with the tough.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the band wagon…
Teach him to listen to all men…
but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth,
and take only the good that comes through.
Teach him if you can, how to laugh when he is sad…
Teach him there is no shame in tears,
Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness…
Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders
but never to put a price-tag on his heart and soul.
Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob and to stand and fight if he thinks he’s right.
Treat him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel.
Let him have the courage to be impatient…
let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself,
because then he will have sublime faith in mankind.
This is a big order,but see what you can do…
He is such a fine little fellow,my son!”
Without engaging ourselves into the debate of the spurious authorship attribution; and even by treating it as “An Anonymous Father’s Letter to His Son’s Teacher”; the essence still does not shift and certainly it portrays timeless words of wisdom to ‘We-the adults’ about educating our children; and intent and content of the letter very well stand on its own without guile or Lincoln.
The present creed of educators owes all that to future generations without fail or lame excuses.
Alarming Stage of Introspection
Similarly, “We-the parents” either must not assume that child is admitted in good school so therefore it is completely school responsibility and when aspiration are claimed to be ‘not met-out’ resort to ‘digitalized terror’ in social networking against the school on unfounded observations.
Undoubtedly, “We-the parents”, in less than absolute terms, at some occasions have no qualms about lying for their children in the name of love and affection. We do not hesitate to barge immediately to school to retrieve any confiscated items, especially mobile phones, and will blatantly claim that the items belong to us and not child -irrespective of the fact that the screen saver and other savings clearly point to the child. But, “We-the parents”do not see anything wrong in taking the blame for the irresponsible action of child and in many cases “We” are on the verge of tears, for the phone to be returned as the child sat beside.
Similarly, nowadays ‘We” plan and move for “family holidays” as per our convenience and “We” do not wait for school breaks or vacations anymore – infact we plan even during the examination period. And various logical though false reasons can be cited when schools makes ‘insensitive’ probe. What value system we are gifting to our young generation?
It is infact real agonizing factor to see a child constantly late to school with uniforms not ironed, shoes not washed or polished, hair dyed or with “pillow impression” and an empty bag or with homework not done subsequently followed by queer stand of “We-the adults”.
Collaborative Strategy-Need of the day
Incidentally, “We-the educators” have the benefit of wearing two hats in the educational system – that of a professional and as a parent. Through our intense experiences in each realm, we had realized that the present era of “non-communication” or even “mis-communication” between parents and educators (emerging as “Mother of all vices, oops…whats app” group) can be easily bridged if “We-the adults” rule out ‘fear of uncertainty or unknown’ and effectively build-up follow-up mechanism based on mutual trust.
Most parents had confessed that their pulse increases when they see school telephone number appearing on their mobile. This conversational fear of unknown precisely forms the basis of poor communication. Parenting and schooling – by virtue of individualistic need of a student- is exclusively “personal” in nature. It is quite ‘humane’ that whenever any human fears that one of his domain will be criticized; the majority of people’s natural reaction is to become defensive. So, an approach towards productive discourse is the need of the day.
Also, effective communication requires mutual trust. There is nothing that erodes trust faster than lack of follow up. Many times – too often in fact – communication between school and home requires problem-solving or intervention to take place in best interest of child.Conversations that generate ideas, strategies, and plans to ensure paramount welfare of child must be enacted. The Rule of engagement is simple, “Never commit to something one does not believe will benefit the student and always follow through with what was agreed to”.
Does Home plays a significant role?
At this juncture, we find it apt to share a personal anecdote. Off late, we use to wonder why “Our” parents were not called to school because of our behavioral issue.
One of us fondly remember till date coming back home from a school, way back in 1985, “consciously-in planned manner” apprising my mother something that my then class teacher had done to me. My mother initially pretended as though she had not heard me. But when I was “persistent” she asked me, “What did you do?” for which my obvious reply was “Nothing!”. It seems to be her turn of being persistent against which my obvious reply was persistently “Nothing!”. After about an hour, as a young student I realized that she was not going any further on that; so I approached her and told her what I had done.
“The Then Parents” knew their children and what they were capable of doing. They were clear on what all stances there was no need to take child’s side or contact the school. Subconsciously, children also got a clear message not to repeat.
Boundaries for our conduct at school were set at home and each one of us as a child knew we “Should not” cross those boundaries. There was healthy respect for teachers and school rules which was set at home. We knew our parents had begun to bridge the gap between what was expected of us. There was no scope of experimentation, fallacy, evasion or guesses; infact bad manners and disrespect was not tolerated at all.
We are indebted to the complete generation of Parents and Educators of our times; who had an unspoken mutual agreement of trust and reverence which imbibed in all of us a unique blend of value and character.
Certainly, high time to contemplate, if “We-the present adults” witness any day that any of our child hollers, “I don’t care”; when ticked by a teacher and told that “I will call your parents”.
The cooperation and contribution of Parents will be foundation which will help the school to fulfill their responsibilities. I believe that, when Parents and school have same ideas and values, share information, which will make the students the focus of their attention, they will be nurtured and their way will certainly be paved to success with character.
Beyond the Horizon
“It is our choices, Harry, that shows what we truly are, far more than our abilities”, rightly stated by Dumbledore in the book, Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets.
As an educator and in loco parents, always dream it when we were student ourselves; We got fascinated with Leonardo Da Vinci’ remark that ‘Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master’.
We remain confident of rosy tomorrow of our children.
(The authors are educational activists, and were previously associated with Mayo College, Ajmer and St Mary’s Convent, Ajmer)