Before The Journey – Part 1 – Corruption

India doesn’t need a definition for this word, still I like to include it for the sake of coherency. Making someone morally depraved. That strikes me most. Corruption is not specific to the people in position and power to act, it has become a character of the society. I was shocked when my mother said she demanded money in order to vote. The thing which seemed to be on the streets is finally at home. I wouldn’t take this as a indicator of how my parent has become corrupted and make the mistake of missing forest for the trees. It is an indicator of how the society, which had a name for truth and integrity, has come to a state where corruption is not recognized, even when present in its purest form. On what stand the society expects to see just use of power, from the most powerful in the country, when a housewife with merely a vote in millions, could misuse it for extortion? Laughable.

As with every social evil, the roots of corruption would be traced back to education. Not schooling. Education. I remember reading an analysis by Dr.Stephen R. Covey, about persuading his child to part with some toys in a birthday party and the child refusing to do so. Of the various tactics he analyses, I am struck by this one. He tells the child something like, “If you give the toy to that boy to play with, papa will buy you a candy”, and in the analysis he writes something like, “I tried to bribe her in order to persuade her”. It was a childish way of saying “Give the building contract to XYZ Constructions, I will get you a posh villa”. If the later is corruption, so is former. Talk about spoiled child. Unconsciously, in many a similar incidents, we are educating the children to be corrupt without a clue of what corruption is.

Taking it a few years forward in a child’s life, we come to the place where I would stand – in a 3rd or 4th standard classroom. I try to dig deep to understand how I might inadvertently corrupt students as I go about managing them. How would I convince them to do things? How would I persuade them to restrain from, say, shouting? Will I apply force? Or will I bribe them? Or will I let the hell break loose because, say, of my inability to keep them quiet? I presently just have these strategies at hand to keep them in order (I will use the example of keeping them quiet):

  • punish them if they shout
  • award them if they are quiet
  • make them understand that keeping quiet is one’s duty

Strategy 1 – Punishment

Punishment – in the physical form, by stressful exercising of teacher’s vocal chords or the students’ body muscles is the most common way of keeping things under control by the teachers. They are like the Lokpal Bills of India. Much has been discussed about their misuse and effectiveness or ineffectiveness, I should rather say.

Strategy 2 – Awards

Awards – or institutionalized corruption. I say this as corruption because keeping quiet is student’s duty inside a classroom. It is like value Zero in a negative to positive scale. Or like doing ones duty in a government office. It shouldn’t be done with a lookout for the incentive, which will in due course lead to a demand for incentives, that we call corruption. I can always appreciate or compliment a good work but never award them to do it.

Strategy 3 – Teaching

Teaching them that, it is ones duty to be quiet inside a classroom and listen to teacher’s words. Making them understand shouting, thus disrupting the class, is not a weapon against the teacher, and keeping quite is neither a service for which one should expect paybacks.

I feel, the difficulty level of the strategies is in the order listed above. The first one is the most popular, for it provides instant ratification and least effective, for it provides no lasting solution. The second one while seemingly positive enough, has the pitfall of succumbing to “moral corruption”. Still it has a delicate line to tread where one can avoid awarding to corrupt and take up complimenting to appreciate. The third is the most difficult of all and yet has a lasting impact.


As a teacher I will follow the third strategy to the extent possible and venture into the second strategy without crossing that delicate line between compliment and corruption. Can I get this basic right and never give even the remotest taste of corruption to my students of 3rd and 4th Graders? I hope I can. We will know the actual outcome at the end of two years.