School teaching is generally stigmatised in the society we live in. Not the same stigma that perhaps a clerk or an electric repairman would face, but a far more subtle and insidious one. You would hear your relatives comment in dinner table talks “oh you are a school teacher! “; implying ” oh, it’s no big deal! ” Aspiring to be a school teacher is made a mockery of as a dream, and the profession seen as a hobby or whim or at most a cure for idleness for the likes of young married women with husbands in transferable jobs. Being a school teacher isn’t a dream the brightest in class aspire to; it is an alternative reserved for the mediocre. And early on from childhood, this is hammered into our heads.
No wonder the number of degrees and qualifications and specializations needed for a school teacher are far too less whenever the huge bulwark of certificates that are considered for college or university teaching positions. This under-confidence is seen in teachers themselves who consider their profession ordinary and themselves too, inferior. There is this hierarchy then again between Arts and Science teachers. The scenario is worse for men who choose school teaching as the profession isn’t considered a hardcore job for filling bellies and sustaining a family. Men are expected to singlehandedly shoulder that responsibility. And in fact, it is true that teaching jobs remain one of the most underpaid ones. And with too few prospects of monetary betterment, another reason why students in anticipation of a bright future career don’t see school teaching as an option.
The condition is worse when we talk of government schools where the quality of teaching further stoops to really pitiable levels and teacher hiring processes so far have been less than rigorous. The quality of education suffers a great deal and hence societal marginalization is faced by students who studied in government schools, especially in rural or semi-urban parts in terms of teaching prospects.
Even urban private schools lack teachers well sensitized for their job. School teachers seldom are trained in classroom engagement, demonstration, engaging the class or most importantly, handling the vast repertoire of growing kids’ problems. Gender non-conformity, mental health, troubles with young relationships, confusion of teen rebels are causes for meanness meted out by teachers with hardly any understanding or empathy.
In India, school teachers don’t get the proper respect and dignity due to them. It is high time we reconsider our attitude as a society, to school teaching.