I will take you to court!
I have complained to the police!!
I am meeting the Collector today!!!
The CM is my relative!!!!
I am in touch with board members!!!!!
Do not select this teacher!!!!!!
Sack this teacher!!!!!!!
We will call the media!!!!!!!!
These are just a tiny fraction of the comments/statements made by parents on a daily/weekly basis to school staff; most regularly to Principals in many schools across the country. If simple, declarative phrases are used to explain such behavior, this is blackmail or/and bullying.
With media of all types interested in gossip/masala, and fierce competition among schools for student enrolment, such threats have become the new battleground for Principals to tackle, in addition to the scores of other challenges he/she faces.
The ‘he’, a male Principal is a seriously endangered species; if, like the tiger census, we conduct a “male Principal” census, I am more than confident that the numbers will be found to have significantly reduced, and we are close to extinction!
Why? The one thing now used by all and sundry to harass the male Principal is to ” allege” (wink, wink) indecent behavior, sexual harassment, etc. When asked for proof, there will be none, but gossipy social media makes sure that the Principal’s reputation is in mud, much faster than the speed of light. Despite zero proof and overwhelming evidence of an organized hit job, trust boards are reluctant to support the Principal citing “reputational damage”.
The kind of oral and online abuse teachers face from parents is beyond belief. In a hyped-up, image-conscious, trust-deficient world, the parents challenge every half mark not given, often with insults and abuse.
We also now have the more insidious and dangerous method adopted by some parents; if a student is not promoted, quickly allege that the teachers are anti-Hindu/Muslim/Dalit/Male/Female, etc., pressurize using media, letters, and outside agencies to the detriment of the student who finds that he/she can get away with academic murder. PTMs became increasingly stressful; when face-to-face parent-teacher meetings got back to pre-covid frequencies, many teachers initially had panic attacks. Fortunately, we have weathered the storms and reasonable peace has now been achieved. We have also had some (rare) cases of parents bringing weapons of various kinds to the school (concealed and otherwise), especially when long overdue fees are asked for.
The Scholastic community is far from perfect. We have our own challenges of greed, inefficiency, corruption, and a serious talent deficit. But the vast majority of teachers are insecure, and humble, trying their best to balance school and family life, often sacrificing family for the school.
India at 75 is on the cusp of change. The technology/digital revolution with a progressive NEP/NCF, having the greatest cohort of under 25 youth in the history of mankind, places an enormous burden on our scholastic community in order to ensure that our students conquer the world when India is at 100. An insecure, bullied teacher community is not in our interest. Conversely, a worried parent community not trusting the school and its teachers is equally not in our interest. An optimized school-parent relationship, based on mutual trust and respect will undoubtedly make the school experience for the student, a happy and joyful one.
A lot needs to be done. How do we get the balance right? I look forward to your responses, the good, the bad, and the rant!
Meanwhile, (with a straight face) I have two “requests” to make
- Can the authorities conduct a ” census” of male Principals and understand their plight?
- Can Goddess Saraswathi come down to mother earth and be a school Principal for one academic session? (Brahma as school director not allowed)
The results, I can assure you, will be most interesting.
Author – Col. A. Sekhar (R), Principal, The Hyderabad Public School, Kadapa
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