Explore. Defend. Protect. Lead. Discover. Serve. These past few months have given us all an opportunity to see these words in action. We have read, and sometimes watched, our warriors venture forth into the unknown to turn a mere word (like the ones listed at the start) into an applause-worthy act. Our doctors and para-medical staff in their PPE Kits, research scientists running against time to find an answer to the Covid menace, soldiers protecting the borders, our police force, administrators and our work force spending sleepless nights ensuring anti-Covid measures are in place, a part of the media and the thousands of teachers who crossed over from offline to an online format without raising a hue and cry about lack of training, our concerned students and the aware citizen communicating responsibly… everyone contributed to transforming words into actions. This period of trials and errors, I believe, has more lessons in it than any other in the recent history of the world.
The student-teacher relationship, online vs offline teaching, and the way protests and acceptance levels vacillated, have been the topics for heated debates all around. Hundreds of articles have been written on these subjects and I must admit, most have also been read and discussed. Has all this led to changes on the ground?
However, despite all the assurances and all the steps in place, there is a distinct gap between what the theories suggest and the way the attitude of those directly involved the situation. There is still a perceptible reluctance to actually move out and go for apprenticeships and practical training sessions. If it isn’t the student who shows apprehension, it is the parents… and sometimes, even the faculty believes that the latter half of this year have no industrial interfaces.
The questions to be considered are: Is it logical to be afraid of moving out of secured environments into the real world? Let me cite the example of pharmacology and medical labs technology students… students of these courses who are in their penultimate semester and must work with hospitals and clinics have shown reluctance. To my mind, this is an opportunity to allow adverse situations to be their teacher. When else will they be in the field wearing PPE kits and assisting at a time when their professional knowledge is needed by a huge number of people? How else will they know the advantages of working under tremendous pressure? The learning here is immense and skipping this opportunity and opting to stay at home and play with theories may sound safe but is no match to validating their text-book information with the way things happen in real life.
Imagine what will happen if every new recruit in the armed forces expresses reluctance to move to the border at this time when the situation is volatile. Imagine if every doctor, every worker in a factory, every policeman, every administrator, and every retailer opt to just sit out until the Covid situation is absolutely under control? The entire system will collapse. All that I am trying to say is that sitting at home when conditions are adverse is NOT the right way to think. We all need to move out of our comfort zones and do whatever it is that we are doing… obviously, taking all security measures that have been recommended. This does not mean that we start inviting people to get-togethers and forget about social distancing, wearing of masks, and washing hands frequently. This does not mean that we stop the discipline enforced by queues and forget to be careful.
Be careful, yes. Follow rules, yes. But to take refuge behind fears and expect that everyone else will move out and work to keep the system afloat is a crime. A social crime that we must address. So go out and do whatever it is that you are doing. Fearlessly.
Note: This article was first published in The Education Post, June 2020 issue.
06 July 2020