ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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In Search of Compassionate Teachers

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Teachers in every society have been revered because their vocation demands a deeper engagement with students, which is important in the process of making them rational and critical thinkers. The lessons taught by a teacher in a classroom are not limited to the boundaries of the classroom anymore; they also reflect in the lives of the students in the larger social context. The dedication of teachers towards rational thinking and their unbiased engagement with their students contribute towards making a society a better place to live. However, the recent incidents of discrimination by teachers against students from backward and marginalised communities raise serious concerns about the spirit of compassionate education and educators in this country. The editorial titled Teachers Need an Education in Compassion (EPW, 2 September 2023) highlights the disturbing culture of corporal punishment and discriminatory practices against students in the recent times.

It seems that the teachers who are engaged in discriminatory practices against students are driven by various motives that range from re-establishing their beliefs in social inequalities to creating a new culture of fear and exclusion. Schools and universities that are considered to be places of liberal education are gradually being injected with the notions of hierarchy and narrow nationalism. In school, students look up to their teachers not only as an authority but also as a guiding force. However, the students from marginalised backgrounds find themselves amid individuals who destroy their faith in the process of learning because of their deep-rooted social prejudice as reflected in their behaviour in the classroom. In 2022, a Dalit student was beaten up by a teacher for drinking water from a pot in a school in Rajasthan. The student succumbed to his injuries later. The instances of discrimination against students from marginalised communities also highlight the public humiliation faced by them in the institutions of higher education. In 2022, a Muslim student in a university in Karnataka was called by the name of a terrorist by his teacher in the classroom. In his explanation, the teacher justified his remark by saying that they meant it as a joke. These incidents indicate the lack of pedagogic sensibilities among our nations educators. Moreover, the intention to degrade and humiliate a student for their social identity destroys the culture of learning.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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