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29 Mar 2023, Edition - 2815, Wednesday

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Vaathi not a movie review, but a review of flawed-struggling-changemakers

Santosh Avvannavar


Venky Atluri movie Vaathi (Sir) starrer Dhanush is the voice of every flawed-struggling-changemaker teachers. The movie’s portrayal of the challenges faced by teachers, is straight taken out from lives of several teachers. Teaching is often considered one of the noblest professions, but unfortunately, its also one of the most underpaid and undervalued.

I could remember my aunt who took up teaching in a private college where her salary was just sufficient for monthly fuel expense of two-wheeler, Luna. She had to wait for six years to see a raise in salary from Rs. 200 to Rs. 500. There wasn’t an iota of complaint for no such raise for several years.

I also remember asking school principal, who led life with meagre salary. The story is no different for teachers of yesteryears and present days in some states of our country. 2020-22 did expose on the teachers’ salary cut, which otherwise it was confined within minds of teachers. This hasn’t reflected on their commitment in teaching-learning for their students. They always carried joy, energy and enthusiasm in classrooms. Many teachers work tirelessly to educate and inspire the next generation, often with little recognition or compensation.

I was lucky enough for having not to face caste discrimination though my belief system was questioned at times. However, I did see discrimination between students in classrooms while I experimented being a teacher from 2013-2017. My approaches that always have been activity based learning, that brought students together hence break the glass on caste and religion. It is important to create a safe and inclusive environment in the classroom where all students feel valued and respected, regardless of their background.

The choice of working in a rural setup with hand to mouth salary, working conditions, rural travel and grass root level that several of my friends would be afraid to take a leap. I must admit it was most fulfilling time inspite some friends look at teaching profession as not lucrative. Teaching in a rural area was rewarding experience as I got to understand the real difference in the lives of students who may not have access to the same opportunities as those in urban areas.

Since 2017, I have been resource person in training teachers and students, trying to fill gaps in creativity and thinking. Any flawed-struggling-change maker teacher will always be thinking about helping students to become better learners, to be successful and productive members of society.

At at the end of workshops receiving autograph requests from students is a clear indication of making a positive impact and that efforts are appreciated. It’s important to take these moments as reinforcement that the path you have chosen is the right one and making a difference in the world.

I can’t be more thankful to have met educators like Dr. Meena R Chandavarkar, Ms. Grace C D, Dr. Dakshayini Kanna, Ms. Jean George Samuel, Dr. Anil Kumar, Mrs. Varsha Jaideep and many more who have continued to provide opportunities and mentor. Some weeks ago, while I approached Mrs. Parimala L K for an opinion if I choose to become a full-time teacher and move to become principal of a school. Her frankly response was, “We know Santosh who does several things in education and we like that way”. This makes me believe that others’ belief in the journey of flawed-struggling-change maker is a testament.

What matters to me as a flawed-struggling-change maker is that I am passionate about what I do and committed to making a positive impact in the lives of students and the broader education community. I have continued to embrace the imperfection and acknowledge that making mistakes and struggling is a natural part of the learning process. I strongly believe these experiences can help you grow and develop as an educator, and ultimately make me a more effective and empathetic teacher.

I resonate with a thought-provoking dialogue in the movie, “Money can buy several things but education gains respect in the society.”

Yours truly,
Flawed-Struggling-Change Maker Teacher
Santosh Avvannavar, Education Journalist QtSTEAM & Mentor QtPi Robotics

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