Sometimes in office, they create some rules which make us question, “Abbe school hai kya?!” Yes, school is where we always had rules; where we were expected to be disciplined. But how good are the methods they use in schools to discipline the students?
I want to recount an incident from school today. When we were in 12th, a junior (I think he was in 5th or 6th) fainted during the morning assembly. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where they said he had consumed something like gutkha. The kid may have gotten it from anywhere (at home from an uncle, in the bus from a stranger), but the suspicion fell on the seniors.
There could have been a number of ways to tackle a situation like this, even if the kid got it from the seniors. But we had a new principal that year, and she was, to put it gently, different. Her solution was to move all the students out of their classrooms and search through every bag and every book. And that’s what the teachers proceeded to do.
I remember, for a long time, this day remained in my memory as the scariest day of my life. In most of my classmates’ lives, in fact, I believe. Even today, we refer to it as the “day of the raid”.
We had no classes during the second half of that day. But instead of saying yay, we sat very still and very silently in the library. No one could speak a word. Not because any of us had a packet of gutkha, but because we knew the teachers had hit a jackpot in our desk lockers.
It was a time before mobile phones. Only two or three of my classmates had cellphones, and even they never brought it to class. So, our main form of communication was through chits passed between the desks. We even passed jokes this way, like forwarded smses! We often forgot to throw these chits, or simply did not want to throw these cute little notes. So they remained in our desk lockers. Love notes, comments about teachers, comments about other students.
Now one might argue that they were looking for gutkha, and they should’ve turned a blind eye to everything else. Yes, that makes perfect sense, but they were teachers. Once their minds were set, there was no stopping them. They patiently went through each chit, each note and each toffee wrapper! They knew who had written what as they knew our handwritings well. They took more time to read the paper bits than they had to score our marksheets!
No, they did not find the gutkha. But we were all called back to the classroom with one hour left for the final bell to ring and we were spoken individually to. Each one of us was asked about the contents of the chits found in our lockers. About our grades going down because the guy sitting three rows across from us had written to us that the movie he watched five years ago was funny. About how boys were plenty, but we shouldn’t fall in love before we turned twenty (okay, they didn’t say that; I made that part up. But I met one of my teachers after I turned twenty and she still had the same thing to say to me!) About why we wouldn’t get jobs because our focus was not on the upcoming entrance exams, but on writing on bits of paper! (Observing a moment of silence remembering that day, because, no, it wasn’t funny!) About why it was an unhealthy environment where boys and girls mingled so freely – because the society did not see it in the right sense (I have written about this in another post of mine – here).
With all due respect, I loved my school. I loved the teacher who spoke to us about the chits. But, I don’t think going through the lockers or bags of students was a mature way to deal with the problem. I don’t blame the teachers; they were following orders of the new principal (who lasted only a year in that school, by the way!) Besides, I could never wrap my head around the irrelevance of what our teachers did. Needless to say, they were searching for something, and they found something else. Why over-analyze the “something else” that they found. We were good students. They couldn’t ever question that. Distractions of that little kind is common at the age we were going through. Why make a mountain of a molehill? Restrictions lead to curiosity – curiosity to experimentation – experimentation may at times lead to disasters. . Telling students not to do something, will only lead them to do it!