This article is going to be about my personal experiences and the experiences of my close friends from school. This is not a generalisation of all schools or teachers in the country, but unfortunately, it is a sad reality for some Indian schools and teachers.
I passed out from one of the best government schools in India, and I can say based on my own observations, that my school had one of the best set of teachers, who had immense knowledge in their subject matter. But then, what went wrong?
As a student, I was always active in extracurricular activities, and I had also brought laurels to my school, but the only “mistake” I had committed was to have guy friends (to which my parents had zero objections). According to my school teachers, talking to guys made me a “notorious girl” whose “character” had to be “doubted”. This is not what I felt, or assumed what my teachers felt, but these were the words that were often associated with my personality. Meanwhile, I was also getting praised and applauded for my achievements in extracurricular activities, and was time and again, appreciated by my parents for my academic performance.
Until class X, I was good at academics, post which my marks started decreasing to an extent that I failed in a few unit tests. Though these monthly tests and their marks weren’t going to make an impact on my final score, they were enough to impact me, psychologically. I was given half the marks my friends were given, for the same answers, which I felt was just like women being paid half the money for the same job. I knew this because our education system demands rote learning, so ideally, everybody wrote the same thing in the exams. Imagine failing, regardless of how well you attempted the questions! This was the first time I had encountered such a mental breakdown.
The sad part is, this was not just restricted to exams and marks but also to other areas. My dance performance was cancelled a day before the show, because of the teacher having a personal grievance against the performers.
What I’ve narrated so far is not even a fraction of my experiences in school life. I would hear teachers asking my friends and me to “behave like a girl”, just because we would play around like any other schoolboy. Why is it that girls always have to be controlled for just being girls? Why was the number of clips in a girls hair or the material of the red ribbon monitored? Why were, we, as girls, never taught about self-autonomy? Why were we looked down upon, and our characters questioned; if we chose to question the system?
It is sad how my parents were scared to question the teacher exercising corporal punishment on my brother. They felt that this teacher would deliberately fail my brother for questioning his authority. It is sad that the people who were supposed to instil values along with education became people to fear.