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Scared and disturbed, say young educators in Kolkata

The comments come in the wake of a young teacher being allegedly forced to resign because she posted photographs of herself in a bathing suit on Instagram

Jhinuk Mazumdar | Published 14.08.22, 04:21 AM
Representational file image

Representational file image

Many young people at the threshold of a teaching career or those who have recently made the choice said they were “scared” and “disturbed” after a young teacher was allegedly forced to resign because she posted photographs of herself in a bathing suit on Instagram.

The young rarely want to take up teaching as a career these days. Some of those who were not unwilling to give it a shot spoke of feeling “overburdened” by the demands of a profession threatening to invade their personal space.

Young teachers are also scared of their potential to influence a student who is an adult or almost there.

While they talk to students about freedom and question hegemony, the incident at St Xavier’s University, some of them said, has forced them to weigh how much “freedom” is available to them.

“Don’t teachers deserve the freedom they lecture students about?” asked a 28- year-old teacher, barely a few months into the profession.

The head of a school with several decades of experience said that it is increasingly difficult to find good students keen on teacher jobs, especially at the school level.

“Teaching has low priority as a career option for talented students. The feedback that I have received over the years is that this is because the profession pays less and there is limited scope for promotion,” said Amita Prasad, director of a city school.

Prasad said the profession demands a high level of performance without offering perks that many other professions do.

Now “the invasion of privacy” would push many students farther away, she said.

“If a doctor or a lawyer was to post something on their social media page, the patients or the clients would not have objected to it,” said Prasad.

During a chat with Metro, a 19-year-old college student said there was “never enough remuneration (in teaching) and now there is no privacy”.

“It is bound to make me rethink my choices,” said Harshita Sharma.

The fact that they have to be “role models” can be suffocating for teachers, said many of them that The Telegraph spoke to over the past few days.

“In the West, there are teachers who go to bars or pubs with their students. It does not mean that those students do not respect their teachers,” said Samira Bhattacharya, 22, a student.

The vice-principal of a city school said that in her years of experience as a teacher, she would desist from doing things that could have put her under the scanner.

She said that she would not go to a nightclub with friends fearing that her students would see her.

“That was at a time when there was no social media. But now we cannot expect our students to lead such a life. So, naturally they would shun the profession,” said teacher Madhumita Seal.

Many young teachers said they were concerned about how their personal lives would be viewed. “I am scared because we don’t know how an episode in someone’s personal life would be projected and how the authorities would react to it,” said Barsha Choudhury, 28.

“Teachers are expected to oblige the parents at all cost... That is taking away the respect that a teacher should get,” she said.

“We are talking about freedom in our classrooms... But the same teacher is caught in a tug of war between what she chooses to do and what is expected of her because of her profession,” said Rashmita Roy, an English teacher.

Last updated on 14.08.22, 04:21 AM

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