Indian Schools have been using age-old techniques to discipline students and no one dares to challenge their authority. This has allowed teachers and supervisors to be authoritarian, thereby harming a child’s personality growth in serious ways.
In 2017, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) issued a recommendation to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), advising the introduction of certain elements of military school training in regular schools. In addition, aspects like rigorous physical training and ‘patriotic sentiments’ were also meant to be introduced. But, in reality, such an advice is futile since such a structure is already in place.
Most schools and parents want their children to be ‘polite’, but such politeness is manifested in webbing a ‘culture of silence’. Young children are asked to ‘put finger on your lips’, subjecting them to a sense of eternal silence in presence of authority. Instead, students should be taught the sense of ‘internal discipline’. They should be placed in an environment where they can challenge authority, ask questions, and be heard. Quoting Paulo Freire from ‘The Pedagogy of the Oppressed’, “Without dialogue there is no communication, and without communication there can be no true education.”
From personal experience, I have seen teachers cutting boys’ hair and braiding girls’ hair in between classes. Why does a student’s physical appearance come before their education? It must be understood that uniform checks must be done before or after class, in a way where ‘bodily autonomy’ of the student is not harmed. Indian schools follow an oppressor-oppressed system between teachers and students. Corporal punishment — though may be illegal — is still practised in every school in this country, unfortunately. One could reason that Indians have a low perception of bodily autonomy due to such a regime, emerging due to the importance given to sociability over individuality.
Most schools push boys and girls away from each other, since a very young age. They are made to sit with another student of the same sex, probably to inhibit any sexual interference during the time of learning (completely ignoring queer students). Yet, it must be argued that after a certain point it manifests into a lack of understanding and inability to talk to the opposite sex. Schools are a place where students are under constant watch, either through monitors, teachers, coaches, or supervisors. It is a shame that such an environment is not used for students to let them explore their bodies and sexuality. Due to this, teenagers find them in a spot where they fail to understand their own bodies and mind. They explore love, sex, and dating in ways that could potentially be disastrous to them – physically and/or emotionally.
While discipline is important, it should not mean non-reflexive obedience, nor should it mean non-critical acceptance of everything that is projected as ‘national’ or ‘collective’, or even ‘sacred’. It should arouse from the child’s sense of self, intrinsically. Schools must be mere guides and consultants in that process.
Feature Image Credits: The Times of India