Why are teachers not paid more than traders?

Dubai - Let’s raise the bar on rewarding work of the heart

By Kavita Srinivasan

Published: Wed 1 Dec 2021, 7:22 PM

I had a heart-to-heart at my parent-teacher meeting today. It was a very different conversation than the ones I have had before. My son’s teacher, Miss Ranjeeta, had noticed things about my son that only someone who knows him deeply does. This is not our first conversation. She is always available, ready to help me help my son. It is a privilege I do not take lightly. Her heart is in what she does. Her heart is in these children she spends all day with. I have used the word ‘heart’ several times already and it is done on purpose. Why is it that we don’t put our hearts into our children? Why is the focus the mind?

I found myself in the midst of a conversation a few weeks ago. A group of parents were speaking about how advanced or not their children were in math and writing. They were concerned that they weren’t up-to-speed. It was a cerebral concern. I am going to say this again. I know I have before but I will reiterate because it is that important. We are heart before we are mind; we are feelings before we are anything at all; our right brain, responsible for emotion and instinct, forms much before the left, which is responsible for logic. So why, instead of asking about empathy and imagination, are we focusing on writing, reading and counting? Why are we not paying heed to our foundation?

We did not discuss my son’s writing during my PTA. He attends a Waldorf Steiner school, where we follow the cycle of the brain’s development. It is rooted in neurology; in science and in developing the whole person. The brain is not supposed to write and read at this stage. There is a time for that. For the first seven years of life, children are building their foundational skills, most especially their imaginations, their relationship with the world and their emotional intelligence. Yes, they learn to read and write but that is not the measure of their worth as the left-brain doesn’t come into being till after seven. We are prodding what is not formed yet and ignoring what is supposed to flourish.

My son was in a British School before Covid-19. The best thing I have done is to move him into the Steiner way. I have given him his innocence back. He comes home now with a fist full of pebbles and sticks and calls them his ‘treasures’. There is no talk of robots and toys. He hasn’t asked. He is too concerned with finding shells and building a fairy garden in our backyard. There is wonder now that wasn’t there. There is reverence for the beauty of a branch. His greatest goal is to climb a tree. My conversation with Miss Ranjeeta was this: How easily does he give up? How can we teach him to persist? How can we make failure more acceptable? How empathetic is he with his friends? How can we develop his confidence? She is concerned with his foundation and the building blocks of his unique personality. How can we make him more himself? How can we allow him to slow down, observe the natural world and interpret it with his unique ways of absorbing and knowing?

To have a conversation like the one I did requires a teacher who engages children with his/her heart. A true teacher sees a child for who he or she is, not who the world wants them to be. So why is it that one of the most difficult jobs in the world is not rewarded the way it should be? Why are we prioritising our heads over our hearts? When we learn what matters and who matters, we will finally build a sturdy sense of self that is rooted in spirit. The precious spirit of our children is the responsibility of not only us parents, but of our teachers. The world will be a better place when we reward them more than professions that are only concerned with amassing wealth. It is in service that there is meaning. Thank you from the bottom of this grateful heart for the work you do, teachers. I see you.


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