Teachers tried to make my son stupid

Published: January 29, 2011
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Abusive words from a teacher can have a huge impact on young students

Last September my son started first grade and I decided to enroll him in a French immersion program here in Toronto. He is a shy and quiet child but I had never heard a single complaint from his kindergarten teachers. But within the first weeks of his new class I started receiving notes saying he was not capable of writing and that we should work on his motor skills.

The entire family was worried. We helped him with French dictation and math, we begged him to work harder – the pressure for a six-year-old boy was immense.

His teacher continued to send in complaint after complaint. She went as far as to mock him by calling him dumb or ‘slowpoke’. His confidence was shattered. He couldn’t make eye contact while talking to others, not even with family members. He was sure he was dumb and “the slowest in class”. He felt he did not know anything. I had a meeting with my son’s teacher but to no avail. The behaviour continued; my son started losing interest in school and his result marks started going down.

After three months of this abuse the unexpected happened.

I went for an eye exam and on a whim had my son’s eye sight checked too. The doctor diagnosed him with astigmatism. For three months my poor child had not been able to see the board – that’s why he couldn’t write and instead of finding out his problem, the teacher was busy complaining and calling names.

I thought things would surely improve now. But come December I was surprised to see my son come home crying like he had never cried before. When he told me what happened my eyes were filled with tears too.

His teacher had said to him,

“Your mom said you were weak because you had eyesight issues but even with glasses you are not improving. It doesn’t make a difference whether you wear glasses or not.”

After winter vacations he refused to go back to school and finally we decided to switch schools.

Within a week of attending his new school, he was back to his prior self – happy, singing, drawing and doing activities. This incident made me realize a teacher’s behaviour can impact a child’s life.

Here in the West, teachers like the one at my son’s school are rare. Parents are lucky enough to have options to deal with the situation. But in Pakistan, I fear, that this behaviour is far too common and both children and parents must bear it on a daily basis.

No  child should have to bear mental torture and parents can keep an eye on the incidents that take place at school.

Luckily, I was able to mend my mistakes in time but I wonder are all parents as fortunate?

najia.naqvi

Najia Naqvi

An accountancy student based in Toronto,Canada.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.