Spare the rod and spoil the child is a monotonous slogan that gave teachers the liberty to resort to corporal punishment in any educational institution. Every now and then, we come across incidents of students being assaulted by their teachers who aim to mend their ways. But often, the results are completely opposite.
Numerous students drop out of the school, some of them end up being mentally scarred for life, and some even resort to committing suicide. In such times, 56-year-old G Balu is changing the scenario by resorting to the most unbelievable ways.
Hailing from a poverty-stricken family, Balu realized that education is the only way to tackle poverty. Being a diligent student, he passed out from Kamaraj Municipal Higher Secondary School, Villupuram, Tamil Nadu in the late 1970s.
A decade later, he got a job in the same school as a commerce teacher. In a span of 30 years, Balu became a faculty member of various educational institutions. Finally, he returned to his alma mater a couple of years ago, but this time as a headmaster.
Just like every other teacher, the disobedience and failures of his students got on Balu’s nerves and he resorted to berating his students severely. But nothing changed. His students would improve for a few days and then repeat the same mistakes.
It was then that Balu decided to amend his approach. Instead of rebuking or criticising them, he resorted to a more peaceful approach to understand their problems at a deeper level. He started visiting the families of his students to realize the causes of their lack in academic interests. He soon realized that the main underlying reason was socio-economic poverty.
“The students, who come to our school, come from extremely underprivileged backgrounds, economically and caste-wise. They are not ambitious and find it very difficult to find the will to study,” says Balu.
Begging for betterment
Balu understood that dealing with students acrimoniously was not the answer. What they needed was compassion and someone who could see the world in their shoes. So, he went about the students’ houses, pleading them to attend classes regularly, and study diligently so that they could fight against their poverty.
“I visit their home, fold my hands and show them that we are all equals. Then I tell them that they can lead a better life than their parents if they study.” he says.
Popping the ego-balloon
One might wonder that why a headmaster would fold his own hands and implore his student to perform well. The answer is simple. He keeps his ego out of the equation. And that definitely yields results. Seeing their headmaster folding his hands before them, the students themselves feel embarrassed and realize that he is genuinely interested in their betterment. Being put in such a delicate position, they are forced to mend their ways for their own good.
Humble efforts, extraordinary results
In fact, there had been an instance during Balu’s teaching days in Selaiyur, when some of the students would come to class drunk, owing to a tumultuous phase in their lives. Employing the same method, not only did he manage to convince them to give up alcohol entirely, the students even passed the exams with flying colours. Even to this date, they have remained in touch with Balu.
The school that Balu presently administers has over 1,000 students and holds classes from STD 6 to STD 12. He focuses primarily on the teenagers who are in STD 12. Since Balu’s joining, the attendance has increased by at least 10 percent in the school. Till date, he has personally visited the homes of more than 150 students in an attempt to rectify their ways. He was honoured for his services by the Villupuram district collector and chief education officer during the Republic Day celebrations this year.
Balu’s methodology is a ray of hope in Tamil Nadu, where incidences of corporal punishments are very common. His efforts of yielding the strongest weapons on earth, kindness and compassion, has bore results when every other violent means have failed and even backfired. To end it in his words, “It is important that they also grow up to be good human beings and only if they are treated with kindness and compassion can they show that same kindness to other people.”
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