Yes, The Parents – Teachers – Meeting at the SDMC – Lajpat Nagar School was a different experience!

Devas Boban, Indian School of Development Management
PTM- SDMC- Peepul School, Lajpat Nagar, 31st March 2018

I saw myself in those children. They were very happy, so as their parents were. I saw the teachers describing to the parents about the finest things their children do in the class. I saw the pride expressed as a smile on the face of those parents. I was remembering my childhood when I saw the children.

I am from Kerala. The most literate state in the country. Number one in almost every aspect of development. God’s own country. Yes, I love my state, but I have a different story too. After third standard, I moved to my grand mother’s house which is far from my home. I was 8 years old. I didn’t want to leave my parents and brother, though it was intended to get education in a better place and school. It was so hard to stay away from my parents. I felt so lonely in that home. I used to cry almost every night inside the washroom for at least 15 minutes. One day, when I was crying, suddenly some thought came to mind. I have been told that boys don’t cry. Why am I crying so much? What difference it makes? I promised myself that I won’t cry ever for myself. Because I believed that strong people wont cry. I knew my teachers love me. They always showed concern about my marks and studies. But I wanted someone to call me and talk to me, something other than marks and lessons. I wanted some teacher to ask me if I am happy. It created a belief in me that our problems are just our own. There is no point in expecting others to help. So, I didn’t feel the importance of sharing my feelings or emotions after that. Though there had been a lot of workshops, personality development sessions happened for me after that, I understand the impact of my experiences in childhood even today.

Studies have identified the Impact of childhood issues in Adulthood:

  • Very hard on themselves: Victims of childhood neglects and issues often feel very angry and disappointed in themselves. They judge themselves more harshly than they judge others
  • Lack sense of belonging: feel uncomfortable and left alone in social situations. They feel like they do not belong anywhere. They tend to suppress their emotions
  • Proud of their independence: Do not rely in others. As a result, it’s difficult for them to ask help
  • Feel they have not met their goals in life: feel that they have something wrong with them and struggle with self -discipline. It difficult to make an organized plan for future
  • Often feel isolated: they feel safe when they are alone or isolated
  • Are not in touch with their feelings: difficulty in identifying their emotions. They often feel unhappy or irritable for no clear reason and trouble claiming down the upset. They feel difficult to spot their strengths and weaknesses.

(Reference: wehavekids.com/parenting/The-long-Term-Effects-of-Childhood-Emotional-Neglect)

My parents have got multiple opportunities to visit my school and teachers with special invitation from my class teachers of different classes. The reasons being, low marks, fight with friends etc. I had seen my parents’ face with embarrassment listening to my teachers’ feedback about me. I remember my parents requesting me to pass 12th somehow. When I saw the teachers in the SDMC- Peepul school during the PTM, describing the great things done by the children, I really wished of having such a system everywhere. Such small recognitions and appreciations will create sparks in the children to do better.

Social Worker and Special Educator

Children generally face a wide variety of emotional problems like anxiety, stress, social problems, problems due to learning disorders, ADHD, conduct disorders, substance addiction etc. Often these issues are misinterpreted as lack of interest of children in studies, bullying, misbehaviour and so on. All the parents or teachers cannot deal with these issues, because it’s not easy to identify/tackle these issues by a person who doesn’t have enough knowledge about child psychology and possible remedies. It won’t be sensible to expect teachers to help children in these issues because they are not always trained to deal with emotional and psychological issues of children. They do have a work load which is fully packed and tedious too.

One of the interesting thing I found in the SDMC-Lajpat Nagar school was the presence of a social worker and a special educator. When many of the schools keep a social worker to do the administration works, I saw the social worker in SDMC-Peepul school doing some amazing work. He was interacting with the parents and the children. He had a strong rapport with them. The teachers told that he is the strong pillar that keeps the network with parents and school strong. The special educator supports children with special needs like difficulty in reading and writing, speech and hearing etc. I was so surprised to see all these elements in a government school. The students and parents in that government school were treated with respect and dignity irrespective of their financial and educational status.

Report card with a chocolate

The children were getting their report card with a chocolate. I remember how scared I was when I got my report cards. It was a scary process to get it signed by the parents. Perhaps, I should agree that I have signed it myself once due to the fear of taking it to my parents.

I heard the teacher in the SDMC school explaining to the parents that their child is equal to the child who came in the first position considering the great thing they have done in the class. This will help the children’s self-esteem not getting affected due to the academic competition.

Promoting the children to ask questions

One of the major challenges I had and even today I face is to ask questions. I haven’t seen students asking doubts in my class. Someone asking doubt was considered as a student with no understanding or less intellectual. But later, when we were all moved to spaces where we really should ask questions, we faced the challenge. The children in the SDMC school were encouraged to ask questions, to seek clarity. Teaching them to ask right questions at right time will take them to heights, no doubt.

A hug from the teacher

I remember the teacher I had when I was in K.G. She used to feed me lunch. I loved her classes and the lunch time! I saw the teachers in the SDMC school hugging each child after the meeting. This would help the child to build confidence in the teacher to approach the her when he/she is in a trouble or in a need.

Education is beyond literacy

The impact of education is measured mostly connecting to the numbers like literacy, attendance etc. But real education is a process of transforming an individual in various aspects like intellectual, emotional, social and political dimensions. It must be noted that states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu are top in the case of literacy rate, But, they also are a few among the top most states with respect to suicide rate and other mental health issues.

It was a new experience for me to attend the Parents Teachers Meeting at the SDMC-Peepul School, Lajpat Nagar. I can really say the school is a second home or same as a home for the children. They get equal opportunity for quality education, irrespective of financial status, cast, religion, gender or any other discriminations. The children have a supportive eco-system to rely on. They get psychological and emotional support. They share their thoughts, emotions and learn from each other. Tomorrow, when they face the world, they will know how to deal with it. When they are down, they will understand its ok to share the emotions and sometimes its ok to cry. Thus, empowering these children is actually empowering a generation for a better nation!

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