Stressed out children? Blame their classrooms | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Stressed out children? Blame their classrooms

delhi Updated: Feb 22, 2009 02:22 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Children are developing a negative outlook because of the pressure to perform and the narrow mindset of teachers and parents, a nation-wide study of National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has found.

Disclosing the initial findings of the survey of 1,100 school children over their emotional experience in classrooms recently, NCERT Director Krishna Kumar said the increasing trend of extreme negativity among schoolchildren could impact their future lives.

“There is so much pressure on a child these days that it becomes difficult for him or her to deal with stress,” he told HT at the sidelines of a seminar on corporal punishment. “It starts from getting admission to a school. It continues with stress to clear exams from grade one right up to the pressure of performance at the IIT and MBA entrance examinations,” he added, while blaming parents and teachers for it.

The study conducted in Delhi, Ajmer, Bhopal, Shillong and Bangalore, aimed at analysing the “darker side of schooling”. “Many students fear going to school as they feel terrorised there,” Kumar said.

The study, to be completed by August this year, has also found that poor classroom environment impacts a student’s learning ability, an indication to 50 per cent Indian children in class III not able to do simple double-digit multiplication or division.

“Those who are frequently scolded in the classroom develop poor learning ability whereas soft spoken teachers help in improving learning ability of children,” the interim findings stated.

Tina, (name changed), a class VIII student of a Delhi school, was present at the seminar on corporal punishment, to narrate her story on how rebuff by her teacher led to her losing interest in her studies for many days. “The sharp words of my teacher kept hitting me for several nights. I wondered what my fault was for being scolded in front of my class,” she told the audience that included top educationists of the country.

The study has categorised beating, scolding, use of foul language, making students read old chapters again and again and making them answer uneasy questions frequently as some of the classroom activities having a negative impact on children.

Teachers addressing children with words like “you are useless, you can’t do anything in life or you good for nothing” in classrooms lowers children’s inclination to learn, the study has found.

“We can do wonders if teachers stop using such words,” was the reaction of 14-year-old Raju, a student of a MCD school, who had been a victim of abuse by his teacher. It was only when an NGO Chetna intervened that his daily humiliation ended.

Child patients facing mental stress because of abuse and studies are on the rise, Samir Hassan Dalwai, Director Child Development Centre, Mumbai. “We are seeing an increase in cases of shaken baby syndrome probable caused by abuse and in many cases teachers are the culprits,” he added.

The survey also said that children felt happy and less stressed whenever they are taught something new or in an innovative manner. “Environment considered safe by children improves their learning ability also,” said a NCERT official, who was not willing to be quoted.

“We have failed to convince the government to stop centralised exams till grade X to reduce stress,” Kumar said.