The Principal Ponders!
My objective in having my own blog is to share my thoughts and experiences with all my friends that I meet or don’t meet regularly. There are people I meet professionally or personally who are not exactly friends or just acquaintances, but someone I would like to include in my list of friends on this planet. In the last one month of my ‘blogging days’ I have realized how many people actually respond to various issues.
I do hope that I would be able to transform that response into action... a progressive and proactive action is all that is needed to usher in positive change. My all time favourite line, “You be the change you wish to see in the world” is what drives me all through!
I want you to respond, discuss, debate or comment and I do hope ( I hate this word ‘hope’ coz it sounds so pessimistic that what you wish for may not happen)
I am happy that we are able to transform the young people who are in our care. I will be more happy if a similar transformation takes place in the parents of these young people....for their own sake. If growing up years are happy ...adult life is happier. Together society, parents and school have to consciously make an effort to create a positive present for a positive future.
Parent teachers’ meets...those dreaded days when the three stakeholders of a school come together for a session of
“who is good who is bad and who is ugly?”
Well, each one thinks that they are good and the others are bad or ugly.
How we live in a make believe world.
Well I remember my school days when my parents used to come to school may be once or twice during the school year. At the time of admission, Annual day, one odd time when I would reach late or returning after a sick leave..to explain my problem to the teacher. I was not top runner in the class yet I don’t remember any anxiety or fear when my parents would meet my teacher ...it was a pleasant exchange of notes as far as I remember.
As years went by I myself became the parent of a spirited young girl. I remember her class teacher cum math teacher, the dominating Ms Agarwal who always made me feel like a criminal for allowing my daughter to be so spirited.
I used to dread the PTMs. Well age has mellowed down my girl and she began to show her spirit in studies and gradually PTMs turned into pleasant sharing of her achievements.
In my career as a teacher I always made sure that my students’ parents knew the strong points of their children. It took some time for parents to believe
that their disobedient son can actually be responsible,
their calm girl is a leader in the school
or their apparently careless son actually has a lot of knowledge.
I made sure that parents met their children’s public personalities. What they normally see is a child at home who could be throwing tantrums or tempers.
But in school...they transform into different human beings. It gave me great pleasure to re-introduce children to their parents..and it worked. The relationships at home, improved a lot...it helped students to do well.
Now as the Principal of a big school with nearly 2000 students from toddlers of 3+ years to young people of 15+ years, PTMs have different connotation. I meet
doting parents strict parents concerned parents
as well as
parents with misplaced priorities
parents who do not know what is important
and sadly some parents who only come to school to insult their child in front of the teacher and other visitors in the class.
I find it very sad that they come to school with their child looking like a ‘bali ka bakra’ ( the same child walks like a confident young person when parents are not around) unable to make eye contact with anyone because he or she is sure that parents are going to put me down in front of everybody.
Worst of all, there are some parents who ask the teachers to beat their children so that they will study and get marks.
I met this parent y’day who is educated with good exposure and a well placed professional. As his kids joined the school this session, this was the first PTM he attended. I remember talking to him during the admission interview. He seemed like an understanding parent too..then!
I was surprised to meet him again. The way he started the conversation was so disappointing. I felt as if my school has not done justice to his kids in the last 3 weeks of the session.
But the fact is that both his kids have improved well and the confidence with which his 10yr old son was explaining about his inquiry was amazing.
The boy explained the economic growth in kukatpally area because of demand and supply that has grown due to migration of families from coastal areas and other parts of the country.
I was watching the father’s face...not a bit of joy! Only waiting for his son to finish so that he can begin complaining about one question not corrected in a worksheet which is actually given as an activity.
I did my best in making the father see the progress in his child but he did his best in not seeing the big picture.
Whether it is pessimism or cynicism I am yet to understand but what makes people unhappy for small things and not happy for even big things ...is a question to me.
This is a syndrome I have seen with many parents. I guess this generation of parents....some of them...have not seen life as a big picture! They have seen their immediate world and not much beyond that. They started enjoying the benefits of modernity in terms of material comforts but not seen modernity in terms of positive living.
They are seeing how the world is changing but they don’t see the changes in educational patterns. They feel comfortable if their children do the same thing as they did in their school days...write loads of questions/answers...mug them up and reproduce in the exam and get good marks.
They talk about competition but they know very little about what is competition.
They talk about coaching and tuitions but they don’t know that what is needed for their children is higher order thinking skills and not memorising answers.
Their personal inadequacies and drawbacks, they palm it off on their children. They preach a lot to children but practice little themselves.
When we asked Grade 2 students to write down popular family activities at home, 75% (out of 200students) have written watching TV.
For popular family outings 70% of them have written going to movies and 30% of them have written... attending family functions.
We still hoped that there could be some good in that too and asked what movies they have seen...needless to say...latest telugu or hindi movies.
When it came to family functions, they did not talk much about traditions or importance of that function but what they ate, what new dress they got for the function or what return gift they got.
With consistent efforts since 3 years, I observed that parents are buying books as gifts for children but we will be truly happy when children will tell us that book reading is their popular family activity or watching a good movie and learning something out of it is a popular family outing.
Just like we have a culture in the school...to speak softly and pleasantly and always be positive, I wish home environment also thrives on such positive interactions between family members where they discuss the world at the dinner table and take joy in what children have to share from their world.
Good feelings have to be consciously developed and plus points have to be talked more often. Mostly people talk about the few minus points all the time and very little about many plus points. They think that it is care...it is discouraging for a child and not care in any way.
PTMs...the dreaded day of parent teacher meets can be pleasant experiences if the parents have loving approach towards their children’s studies and not a stern approach.
- Good parents
They reach on time and park the car in the designated parking area.
They come in with a pleasant expression if not a smile.
Meet the teacher like a respectful friend.
Wait for her to be free to talk to them.
Ask her/him about their child’s plus and minus points and take tips to work on them
Go through their child’s portfolio with interest and discover the child’s talents.
Realize that learning has different faces now, not just a notebook, question /answers/tests and report cards!
Meet the respective teachers of different subjects and pleasantly discuss the progress their child is making.
Find out about the new initiatives of the school.
Not very good parents
They come in a hurry and advice the school on having the meets on Sundays.
They show impatience in waiting for the teacher to be free.
Wishing the school members is dependent on their mood.
They may not bring the child with them.
They come with the idea of finding a fault with the school.
They are generally unhappy people who don’t see the 98 good things the school is doing but find only those small insignificant 2 things that the school is not doing!
They can be stubborn enough to believe that those 2 insignificant things are the only topics to talk about.
Some of them think that they can demand anything from the school because...they paid the fee!
They may also think that they know better than the school.