Four years ago, on Teachers’ Day, an academically brilliant girl from Thiruvananthapuram decided to talk about something that Kerala often chose to ignore – teachers who ruin students.
An alumna of St. Thomas School, Thiruvananthapuram, Rhea George's Facebook note detailed her worst school memories. No prizes for guessing why Rhea's note assumes significance now.
It’s the same school that suspended two teenagers for a “friendly hug” during a school youth festival; it’s the same school that snooped on a student’s Instagram and took screenshots of pictures in 'compromising positions'; and, of course, it’s the same school that slut-shamed a girl student and called a teenage boy “a bull in heat.”
“I was brought up in a school where special care and attention was given to the brightest pupils in the class. And the students who couldn’t do their best were hated, let down and made fun of,” Rhea wrote in her post.
Rhea, who is now a professor in economics, also talks about the way teachers humiliated her friend for having a boyfriend.
“You equated it (dating) to being a disease of the mind and being perverse and which was due to the lack of good parenting. You even told my friend that she learned it from her parents. I was confused at that point because I failed to understand if it was the love her parents shared that you meant or whether you accused her parents of an extra-marital relationship.
“Whatever it was, I got the point, it was only cheap and vulgar to have a lover in school, or to be extra friendly with a student of the opposite sex. And oh wait, because I was dating, my bad marks, and my inattentiveness in the class all were to be blamed on my relationship. You even told my friend, “you are a girl; you’ll be the only one to lose in the end.
“Every Valentine’s Day, we had a regular inspection of our school bags to confiscate cards and other gifts and if it was your unlucky day, you’d be called to the staff room and ridiculed till you feel like you don’t want to live another day in life.
“Teacher, you taught me that it was correct on the part of certain political groups in India to bash up young couples on Valentine’s Day because it just wasn’t right to have a lover. FYI, studies have shown that if a student doesn’t even have a secret crush (be it same sex or opposite sex) by the time they are in senior school, they are just not normal. So by doing this, you are trying to make the normal in me feel confused and abnormal.
“Every time, I felt I was punished for no reason, I came up and pointed it out to you and since then you hated me. When you were wrong, and when you weren’t doing your job right, I brought it to your notice and you shunned me away. You called me a complaint box. You ridiculed me and my family in front of the whole class. What you taught me there, was that in life whenever I see injustice, I should just accept and suffer in silence or else I’d be the odd one out.
“Luckily for me, I had amazing parents and a rockstar brother who supported me every single time, no matter how many times this was, to do and speak what I felt was right. Every single time I fought with a teacher or an issue came up, they told me not to worry and even said that I could go to a different school or even do my schooling privately. The support I got from my parents was and still is extraordinary which very few blessed kids like me got.”
Read her full post here: