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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

Peer pressure and a teacher's healing touch

Prof DC Sharma, Hindustan Times   October 09, 2012
First Published: 12:05 IST(9/10/2012) | Last Updated: 12:07 IST(9/10/2012)

Peer pressure affects every aspect of a teenager's life. It is reflected in the way they dress, walk, talk and behave. Such students are often under undue pressure from their teachers, too. That's probably more damaging, but parents are often unaware of it.

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My grandson, who is nearing teenage, stays with us. One evening, the boy was sad. He neither watched TV nor had food that day. My loving tone cooled him a bit. Being a psychologist, I kept observing his actions. He went to his room and sat in a chair facing the wall. I stealthily entered his room and saw his open notebook. I noticed a cross in red. His English teacher had crossed even his correct answer! Patting his back, I queried: "Smart boy, sadness on your face?" (I usually address him as smart boy to boost his morale.) The boy sobbed: "Granddad, my English teacher has crossed my correct answer too! He has awarded cent percent marks for the wrong answers of students who take tuitions from him. He even called me 'dud' in front of those who are jealous of my scholarship! They all made fun of me in the class..."

Evils in education too are now taking firm root. Research shows that those appointed purely on 'sifarish' are mostly behind such evils. Yet our rulers pat themselves on the back that human potential is being developed. Shouldn't teachers realise how seriously their casual taunts affect avid learners? Shouldn't they see to it that peer pressure on our budding youth does not spoil their career? But many of them are instead adding fuel to the fire.

Going back to my teaching days, I had just joined as an English teacher at a prestigious college in Jalandhar in 1971. The principal had told me: "Listen boy, if you want to win, never pressurise the budding youth!" I took his advice quite seriously. In the BA-I class, there was an angry young man. Even teachers were afraid of this boy, who remained high on drugs.

I told that boy: "If you treat me as your elder brother, see me in the evening." And he did. Opening his heart, he told me: "Sir, I love Paro… the prettiest girl in my class. But she ignores me. My class fellows and other teachers make fun of me. So I take drugs." I assured him that he would win over Paro if he quits drugs and works hard with sincerity. He was ready to do anything for Paro. After a few months, I shifted to Kangra.

Years rolled by. In 1999, I got a call from my native village. My nephew wanted me to help him. A clerk in a DC office was demanding bribe, though the work he was expected to do was genuine. He did not locate the particular file despite my requests. So I went to see the DC and sent my visiting card to him. We were called in at once. The officer stood up from his seat and touched my feet. "Sir, I'm that drug boy whose morale you had boosted...!" I couldn't help asking: "And that Paro?" "Sir, she is teaching at a government college here...!" My eyes were filled with tears of joy. What greater reward can a teacher ask for!

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