Months have passed ever since the pandemic hit the world. While capitalists are finding different ways to continue making profits, educational institutions are busy extracting the very maximum teachers in their employ can possibly give. News of bullying and harassing teachers during online classes has become a new normal. Experienced teachers have found themselves unable to cope with fast-growing technology while being expected to transition smoothly despite no real infrastructure being provided.
More so, educational institutions have been quick to lay off teachers whose services have been deemed to be no longer significant. In the fallout, it’s been made clear that art and sports are viewed as irrelevant by many such institutions.
Over the past four months, not a day has gone by when my mother hasn’t woken up feeling extremely anxious and stressed – not because of the ongoing crisis, but because she is required to conduct her classes online.
Growing up, I saw my mother work as hard as one humanly could: effortlessly maintaining the balance between doing household chores and igniting the thirst for learning among young children. It was only through her did I learn the importance of maintaining a disciplined work ethic. Making art, writing speeches, doing Zumba, and even gardening every now and then – there was absolutely nothing she wasn’t good at. But then the pandemic happened, and she was asked to teach her students online.
My mother’s technological knowledge had always been limited to using WhatsApp and sharing documents on email every now and then. Of course, she would find her way to YouTube if she was in the mood for a new recipe. Earlier this year, I also taught her to use Amazon Prime so she could watch some movies and relax.
But professional databases? Well, I never thought the world would take such a massive turn.
I will be honest. It has been quite a struggle. Not only for her, but also for me. Just as my mother’s phone rings around a certain time for a work call, my heart starts pounding. Because over time, all her work has become my work too. Because every time she is required to make any changes in her study material, it automatically means that I immediately stop doing whatever it is that I’m doing – no matter how important – and do her task within the given deadline.
As a student and part-time working professional, my schedule has been in shambles as a result. It is not only my deadlines that worry me, but also my mother’s. And as much as I would like to be unconditionally supportive of my mother and her work, I find it difficult to make it through the day without feeling resentful and angry.
Spiteful words rise up in my throat when I am interrupted – often inadvertently – during an important work call only to help my mother set a question paper for an exam to happen a week later. Often times, this sort of a situation ends up in me helping my mother while also trying to calm myself down from the anger that clouds my head. But other times, it is me saying hurtful words to her only for her to apologise for something she has absolutely no control over.
My mother is an ambitious woman. She has been nothing but honest with her work for the last 23 years. And she absolutely hates asking for favours. But when it comes to technology, she just simply has no other choice. I see the look on her face when she asks me for help and it just breaks my heart to see her struggle over something that is hardly a measure of her worth.
For the first time in my life, I have seen my mother question herself and her teaching. All those thoughts of not being a “tech-savvy” have fogged her lens – which has not only been detrimental to her teaching, but has also impacted her mental well-being.
She can no longer call herself a good teacher because she’s convinced that not being “tech-savvy” implies not being a good educator. The confidence with which she would carry herself in the professional spheres no longer reflects in her face. For some reason, she’s now always apologetic and hesitant. And it absolutely breaks my heart. There is nothing more painful than seeing someone you look up to question their self-worth.
This pandemic has taken many, many lives. It has also worsened the lives of those who wanted nothing but to improve and change the world. My mother is in her forties and is definitely trying to learn more about technology so she can take care of her work by herself.
To survive and help each other should be the ultimate motto for all this year. After all, what is the point of education when it is convenient for you to ignore humanity?
Rakshika Aphale is a final year law student who hopes to explore the domains of policy making, education, and gender studies.
Featured image credit: Christina/Unsplash