Dr Robert Antony’s viral video asks parents to be patient with teachers going online


When Bengaluru’s well-known paediatric surgeon Dr Robert Antony made a nine-minute video, empathising with teachers who’re combating in opposition to odds whereas taking online lessons, it resonated strongly with the individuals throughout the nation. He begins the video by saying, “I’m talking as a parent who’s interested in the school system for our children.”

It all began when a WhatsApp ahead that originated from a dad or mum deeply disturbed him. In the video, he reads out the forwarded message: “Online lessons by personal colleges has uncovered the poor high quality of teachers throughout the nation. Parents at the moment are ready to see teachers educating on a real-time foundation and we’re shocked on the means teachers talk and train. Poor pronunciation, spelling errors, harsh tone of voice and the shortage of heat and the shortage of friendliness in teachers has outraged many parents. Questions are additionally being raised by excessive charges that they cost and the worth delivered in return.”

Wondering why, within the first place, a dad or mum is current through the class, Dr Robert says within the video: “I’ve been a surgeon for 20 years. When I’m about to operate on a child and the parent asks to be inside the operating theatre — even if they are doctors — the answer is a clear NO. This is basically because no matter how skilled or experienced you may be in your job, doing it while being watched live changes the stakes, even for the most simple jobs.”

Speaking to us over the telephone, on what prompted him to come up with this video, Dr Robert says, “I received this as a forward from one of my daughter’s teachers. My daughter is no longer in school, she’s in college now. After I read the message, I almost took 48 hours before deciding to do something about it. I put my thoughts together and expressed them through this video, which was meant for a few parents and teachers within our circles. But it has gone viral and caught the attention of people across the country.”

Dr Robert acquired blended suggestions to the video. While there was an appreciation for his empathetic angle in direction of the teachers from many quarters, there have been private assaults too, says Dr Robert, from individuals who questioned his motive behind making such a video. “I was asked if I received money from the school management to make this video. People asked if my wife and parents are teachers. None of my family members are teachers and I have no connection with any school,” shares Dr Robert and provides, “An elderly school teacher who teaches Geography in one of the prestigious schools in Chennai, after watching the video, wept over the phone and shared her experience with me. Apparently in the middle of her online class, a parent interrupted and criticised the way she was pronouncing certain words. She felt very humiliated.”

This is what a XI customary instructor (identify withheld on request) who teaches Physics in a prestigious faculty in Hyderabad has to say of her expertise: “My 30 years of teaching experience and the goodwill I’ve earned seemed to have vanished in the first few days of online classes. I could actually hear a student’s mother in the background commenting on everything I was saying, correcting my pronunciation and even sniggering sometimes. So I requested her not to do that and instead call me up personally to talk. She took offence and started maligning me in a parents WhatsApp group. It was annoying and painful as well,” she says with anguish in her voice.

Dr Robert addresses this concern within the video by saying, “As for the poor pronunciation of teachers, trust me, at most of the prestigious coaching institutions that teach our older children for IIT, JEE, NEET and other exams, most of the highly-sought teachers are not the ones with the best pronunciation. They are the ones who can make their concepts clear to the children. In fact, students prefer to listen to them because they are able to learn much faster. Even in my field, some doctors are terrible in their pronunciation and they may come across as rude as well, but their work is excellent. At the end of the day, it’s the result that matters, not the presentation. Am not saying that’s an excuse, but let us be patient, they are learning, let us look at the whole picture.”

Admitting there have been apprehensions over the presence of a member of the family through the online lessons, Padmavathi Rajashekaruni who teaches English for Senior Secondary college students at Meridian School, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, says, “I share a certain equation with my students in the classroom and I crack jokes that are seen as normal by my students. When the parents hear this, they may not get the true sense and may not approve of it and judge me wrongly. This was the apprehension most teachers had initially. We’ve set guidelines where parents or other family members will not be allowed near the student while the class is on. These are unprecedented times. We are able to do only 40 % of what we could in the physical classroom. Parents should understand, support and cooperate with us.”

Teachers are professionals

Calling for understanding, Dr Robert in his video reminds that teachers are professionals. “They are trained in the subject, trained in handling kids under their direct supervision, under one roof. They’ve not been trained in handling children from different homes at a distance. Working from home comes easily to software professionals, call centre employees, technical and finance professionals… it doesn’t adapt itself easily to schools or hospitals. I am struggling while doing online consultations; it’s really hard. All that I am asking is, please don’t put additional stress on these teachers who are learning; some of them are not young and have never held an online class before; let’s be patient.”

Jhansi L Shekhar, HoD, Commerce at Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet, is ready to retire subsequent month after 35 years of educating. She says, “I have the subject-related diagrams on my fingertips, and in the classroom, I put them all on a blackboard. What do I do now? I’ve been making endless power points to explain the same for online classes. For a three-hour class, I spend five hours in preparation,” she says and provides, “With no human connect, I feel there’s a wall between us and students. Virtual classroom teaching might be the future but I prefer the old method of classroom teaching where I’ll know the body language of my students. With online classes, the rapport is missing and I can’t gauge whether students are able to follow or not.”

Adds Dr Robert in his video, “During this lockdown period I’ve been watching a lot of videos on cooking; I’ve been enjoying them and learning. The videos look well-made and professional. Am sure they must be doing more than one take, to overcome a stammer here and a delay there. Even I practised twice to make this video. Teachers are handling many students in a completely new teaching environment. Am sure they’ll come up to the task.. please be patient. It’s a new digital world and all of us are learning. The future might well be homeschooling, because this might change the world of education completely and am sure those of us who attach a lot of importance to the concerns raised, will be able to do it in a far better environment. You are completely at liberty to choose this in the future. For now, don’t be in a hurry, don’t be harsh on the teachers.”

While addressing the difficulty of making an attempt to hyperlink the efficiency of teachers to excessive charges at college, Dr Robert says, “If you have a concern with the fees, take it up with the school management but please don’t drag teachers into it. They are not part of it. In fact in our country, teachers are not paid well and we have to hang our head in shame that compared to the western world, teachers don’t get treated well in this country. So to link the high fees to the teachers’ pronunciation is a bit harsh,” he says and concludes, “My honest suggestion is when your child is taking an online class, get them a headphone that shuts out the rest of the home environment. Let the child focus on the class. If you are next to the child, your child is not going to focus on the class. By looking at your expression and you shaking your head at something you don’t like, he will understand only that and he will not respect the teacher.”

While hoping his video will make a minimum of a small affect, Dr Robert says this can be a studying part for everybody and parents ought to give teachers an opportunity and their cooperation.

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