One of the thorniest questions before the country today is that of indiscipline among the students. Hardly a day passes when we do not hear students setting authority at naught and taking the law into their own hands. Strikes have become their normal tool. All this has led some people to believe that the student of today is not being handled properly. He is being humoured, flattered and even pampered, otherwise he should not have been as naughty and intractable as he is.
The absence of corporal punishment at the school stage has turned the students' head. The student of yesterday was subjected to a stern discipline for ten years. The rod was freely employed in cases of delinquency, and the fear of this effective weapon kept him in proper trim. He bowed to authority.
In fact he used to be beaten into shape. Today, however, the rod has been banned by orders of the educational authorities. The teachers and the headmasters feel quite helpless because they are now unarmed. The students do as they like. They may revere a teacher here and a teacher there put by a and large they are disrespectful and even defiant.
The student of yesterday gave all his time to studies. He was devoted to his books. The introduction of the cinema has distracted his attention. No concrete steps have been taken to wean him from this distracting entertainment. Rather, films are being shown in schools and colleges under the guise of audiovisual education. He is being pampered and petted whereas the need of the day is to restrain him from his wasteful and vicious habit.
The student of yesterday depended on his own efforts and resources. He studied several books for his examinations, and that helped him in understanding the subjects. The student of today has been provided with short cuts and guides, cribs and bazar-notes. Everything is presented to him, cut-and-dried, as if on a platter. He has grown mentally lethargic and nothing is being done to arrest this growing lethargy. All this and much more like the patronage of the students' Unions has given rise to the feeling that the modern student is being pampered to an undesirable and even dangerous extent.
But we cannot put the hands of the clock backward. Circumstances have changed and we cannot apply nineteenth-century methods to solve twentieth century problems. The rod has been dismissed as a relic of barbarous times. It negates human dignity. It is contrary to the basic principle of democracy. It should therefore go, lock, stock and barrel. The student should be handled with sympathy, understanding and affection and he is bound to respond. If an appeal is made to his dignity and self- respect it must have a greater and profounder and more lasting effect. Educational psychologists have tried these methods with remarkable success.
There is nothing wrong with the cinema as such. What is needed is a discriminating use of it. Cinema and the radio are powerful educators and their possibilities should be exploited to the full.
Everybody, however, agrees that the notes and guides should be discouraged and even tabooed. One way of eliminating them is that the question papers should be so framed as to render them useless.
The modern student is not pampered. He has developed his wings in the free atmosphere of democracy and naturally he is more conscious of his rights than the student of yesterday. We should encourage him in asserting his rights and obtaining them.