Spare a thought for the comfortably overlooked teaching community

At the onset, let’s admit that the education system of today is a student centric one and no law, no revolution can change that anymore. In multiple ways, this system has paid off and been effective but the flaws remain, which are constantly discussed by students as sources of stress or depression caused by the education system.

All of it are understood, and most of them are admitted without a question. The education system, though extremely student centric, has ample flaws that can create undue pressure on students and suppress their real talents amidst a race for marks. And as the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced, this system has become so much more difficult to cope with, especially for kids located in rural areas and coming from modest backgrounds. All other institutions of the society- specifically media has been focused on highlighting the hardships of students in attending online classes and the inadequacy of the education system in coping with a pandemic. 

Having comprehended and accepted all the aforementioned dynamics, especially the many difficulties faced by students during COVID, let’s for once turn our attention towards one part of the same education system that is easily the most overlooked. The plight of the teachers who already led a life of constant adjustment to the student centric system on the drastic shift that happened during COVID is just as pitiable as the students, if not more. But somehow, the teaching community was expected to adapt to the very aspects that students found challenging, and was expected to do so without a question. Everyone was concerned about the students having to suddenly comprehend lessons online and submit assignments amidst a pandemic. Hardly anyone had comments to make about teachers having to prepare for a completely new mode of teaching (regardless of the subject) and correcting the same assignments with new parameters altogether.

Behavioural interfacing is a vital aspect of classroom learning and the complete absence of it in the online mode has been a nightmare for teachers. There have been no reports on how impossible it is to ensure that students remain attentive in online classes, let alone respond. Nor were there any accounts of the frustrating levels of inconsistency that students display in online classes because there is no way to hold them accountable. No one cared to make a news segment on how the cancellation of all exams have granted a free pass to students whose only reason behind poor performance has been lack of interest. And there have been no discussions on how the teachers have been held accountable by institutions and government authorities who have no means of comprehending that despite continuous attempts, educational initiatives have simply not been received with previously known zeal by students.

I’m not trying to vent out here. But since lockdown and even after months the lockdown has been lifted, the teaching community has been taken so much for granted that most teachers now do not want anything more in life than for schools and colleges to finally start. Funnily enough, everything else in the country has been openly functioning and students are free to carry out any kind of chores other than attend classes. Institutions, on the other hand, are expected to pay their staff and complete portions and hold up the ideals of student centric education, even with media and other entitled organizations still ranting against them. Ample colleges across the country are finding it harder with each passing day to sustain their employees. With no clarity on the admission patterns, so many of them are on the verge of shutting down. Job security for teachers working at such institutions is pretty much a mirage lately, despite having exerted so much effort towards adapting to the drastic changes in the system.

Importantly, teachers and institutions are not inconsiderate towards legitimate reasons provided by students for their unaccountability during this time. Some students genuinely face network issues and a lot of them have taken up odd jobs that have nothing to do with their degrees because of financial restraints. There is no handbook for teachers for handling such cases – such students can technically be denied academic progress but ethically not. Every single day, teachers are training and re-training themselves to cope with this new change with zero consideration from any external parties, let alone support.

No, we’re not claiming for any form of recognition or compensation for the adaptive phase we have gone through alongside everyone else in the country. All we’re asking for is for external agencies such as media to stop pointing fingers and poking at what they do not comprehend from close quarters. Practical dynamics of education are so much more complex than what is comprehensible from an external standpoint – especially that of mass media. It is rather easy to hype the idea of student centric education and expect schools and colleges to deliver even when students and parents are looking for compromise on every possible end.

All we want is for schools and colleges to begin functioning offline so that the education system too can be channelled back to track. If every other place (some more dangerous than colleges) are openly accessible to students, it is imperative that colleges are too. If not, we’ll see a greater number of dropouts in the next two years than ever, and a serious dip in the quality of education in the country. The students are awarded degrees in exchange of concerning minimum efforts in online classes and exams. This is as big a threat to the quality of the education system as it can get.

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