Should any child be told repeatedly that he/she is ‘Hopeless’?

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Do you think any person on this Earth can be ‘hopeless’?

Do you think anyone has the right to tell you that you’re ‘hopeless’?

Is it right to tell 4 year-old kids that they are ‘hopeless’?

I was amazed to hear Shreya (name changed), a friend of Anu and Lil Love, utter the word ‘Hopeless’ repeatedly while playing Teacher Teacher.

The first time I heard, I didn’t bother much. The second time I heard it, I  ignored it as I was rushing to pick up the clothes from the roof-top coz it started raining heavily.

The third time I heard ‘Hopeless’, I couldn’t resist. I went up to her Mom and told her what Shreya was repeating. She too was shocked. I understood that the poor child hasn’t picked it up from home. We then inquired with her as to who taught her this word.

To our shock, we realized that she has picked it up from a teacher in her school.

Her mother would be going to the school tomorrow itself.


Imagine, a teacher who has a strange longing for this particular word, so much that she repeats it so often that just days into the school, a fresher child learns the word. The class must be having at least 20-25 children. And what is she teaching them….that they’re hopeless? Crazy it is!

We all know that not all of us are blessed with all kinds of talent. Someone’s good at something and someone else is good at something else. Someone’s extremely poor with some thing and someone is so very creative with that work.

Doesn’t it work for the kids too?

I can understand that it is very very very difficult, really tough, to handle kids and that too freshers aged between 3 and 4. Some of them will be crying whole day long because they still haven’t settled down into the school routine, some will be so very naughty that you feel like running away and some might be the pranksters spoiling the entire show. But with all this too, does it give any human being on Earth to address them as ‘Hopeless’? Sorry, I don’t agree to this.

Children are like blooming buds. Pour in good amount of water, give it necessary amount of nutrients, pluck a few leaves that are decaying, and they’ll bloom into beautiful flowers that delights your eyes, fills your surroundings with its fragrance and they add a magical ambiance to the whole world. Similarly a child will only blossom if he/she receives good education, creative feedback which helps him/her to improve further, a scolding or two when it is necessary. But of course, negativity passed on will only result in negative results.


Priya was a normal child and was good at studies too. She scored an A+, an A or a B+ in all the subjects, except Mathematics, where she would hardly score a C- or a D. It went on from standard 3 through standard 7. Slowly, she had started scoring lower grades in the other subjects too.

The reason, her Mathematics teacher, Ms. Ann.

Ms. Ann was a colleague of Priya’s mother, who was a Science teacher in the same school. Ms. Ann’s daughter too was in Priya’s class. Competition as is human tendency would not let Ms. Ann accept that Priya was as good as her own daughter. She would put a cross in all the correctly solved sums, tear the pages of her notebook, make her repeat problems for no reason and insult her in front of other kids. Ms. Ann kept repeating to Priya that she was useless and good for nothing. For five consecutive years, Priya had to go through this repeated insult and humiliation. She couldn’t complain to anyone except her own mother, who was such a peace-lover that she asked her to ignore. She might have done that knowing Ms. Ann’s competitive attitude, but the mistake she made was, she didn’t do anything else to boost Priya’s self-confidence. She was slowly loosing herself.

Ignorance is Bliss, but playing ignorant isn’t bliss at all.

Priya’s confidence in herself was being shattered day in and day out. She started loosing interest in even those subjects that she was good at.

Thanks to the tuition teacher her mother found for her in class 9th, who re-instilled confidence in Priya. She gave her extra time, gave her regular feedback on her performance, made her understand her strengths and weaknesses, taught her ways to improve her speed, logic and reasoning. From scoring a 46 out of 100 in class 8th final exams, Priya scored a 98 out of 100 in her 9th finals.

It was sheer luck that made Priya meet Ms. Murthy, who was such a wonderful human being and went that extra mile to help Priya. It is not necessary that every child goes through a similar situation and it is not necessary that every victimized child gets a Ms. Murthy for pulling her out of the darkness.

Priya now is a Software Engineer and makes it a point to meet Ms. Murthy whenever she travels back into India.


Here’s a beautiful portion from the best movie on child development, Tare Zameen Par by Aamir Khan…I have lost count of the number of times I have watched it. And trust me, every time I watch it I have cried for sure….out of sorrow, pride and happiness.


Help every child in whatever way you can.

The most convenient and economical way is to pass on a sweet smile every time you meet a child. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Try and boost their self-confidence in the smallest way possible.

Encourage them with whatever they are good at.

Motivate them to improve in areas they are lagging behind.

But never ever make them feel useless and good for nothing.

And never ever address anyone as “Hopeless”.

Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun.

~ Kent Nerburn


11 Replies to “Should any child be told repeatedly that he/she is ‘Hopeless’?”

  1. Yeah it is very important, that teachers should contorl their emotions and behave in way they remain role models..
    lot has to improved regarding,, our education system,,

    the problem is the teachers are paid very less,, which in turn leads to intellectuals not chhoosing this feild…

    things should change

    1. The government school teachers now are being paid well after the pay commission.
      And I don’t think pay should be a reason to call a child “Hopeless”.
      About the education system, I feel it has improved for good and it’ll only prove helpful if it’s a combined effort of the student, the teacher and the parent. Let’s hope for the best.

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

  2. Schools in India are like any other money minting institutions where they charge hefty from the parents and pay less to teachers who somehow manage BEd degrees. I feel , teachers India should learn many things beyond teaching. Having said that,it is also the responsibility of the parents to keep a proper check at where the kids go and who they meet with.As infants they learn from the cab guy who drops them home,the maid at our place,the non-teaching staff at school etc.I have seen parents who are never open to take criticisms of the child . They scold the teachers infront of the kids giving them a room to understand they can escape school complains easily.
    Hopeless may be just another regular word for the teachers but when the kid understands the meaning of it , he will start agreeing to it . I will be frank,alongwith Indian teachers even the parents need proper counselling !

    1. Well said, MySay! My mother is herself a teacher and having attended quite a few PTMs myself, I believe the change is required at both ends…parents as well as teachers. About the parents who are not open to criticism, there are a hell lot of them. These parents have closed their minds and do not expect to receive any negative comments about the child. In their perspective, their child can never be wrong. As they say, no all fingers are alike. We can only wish to see things improve in the coming days and that’ll not happen without our positive indulgence.

  3. Children are likr clay whichevr mould u put in thy will take those forms.every child is unique in his own way.every child is a blessing of god.let them bloom
    and spread fragrance

  4. Very pertinent post. I came back to this today, after a quick read a couple of day back. Many teachers are ‘teachers’ for the money that is there, esp. in the Government Schools. The pay scale is good. But just the opposite happens in the Private schools. And caught between the two are the real ones, and make no mistake they are there, in both kinds of schools. It is however more often that anything that is good which is not noticed, but taken for granted and the other shoddy and cruel acts tht get highlighted. Sadly, these things are on the increase, and being in the profession I get a ringside view of both kinds, and the trauma it causes.

    At the same time, parents must intervene and make certain that there is limit to which their kids take the nonsense. Instead of simply stepping in when it suits them, for all the wrong reasons. There is so much to improve, for both teachers and parents, truly. And calling a child ‘hopeless’, is not just cruel, it is criminal.

    1. I would never hold the Teachers alone responsible for a child’s behavior. But all I meant was it has to be a collective effort from both the parents as well as the teachers to help build a child’s career. I have myself seen parents who have left the child completely to the teacher. They find pride saying, “I don’t WASTE my time teaching the child. What for am I paying such a huge amount as fees?” My question is paying a huge fees and going and shouting at the teacher for unworthy and stupid situations during PTM and other time, does this justify your role as a parent? Isn’t it necessary for a parent to indulge in regular interactions with the child and ensure they are aware of the child’s well-being and also let the child know he is under healthy vigilance both at home and at school? Such parents behave as if the teachers are their bonded labors. I have seen parents coming and complaining to the teacher that she is not giving adequate attention to the child. “You did not check each and every line of the book.” The teacher simply asked which chapter and why didn’t they send a note, to which these people didn’t have anything to say. I salute the patience of the teacher, for I would have given left and right for such an irresponsible comment.

  5. Rekha, this is a very significant topic and I assume most of us would have encountered this in our own lives or at least in our near and dear one’s life.

    In this rat-race of being the best in every field, there is so much of un-healthy competition that a child is left with nothing but to undergo this trauma at every moment. As a parent or a teacher, it’s our responsibility that we create a path of self-confidence and self-respect in each child and make them understand “Failure is neither a catastrophe nor the end, but a beginning of new possibilities based on the past learning’s”.

    Can’t deny the truth, the job and role of a teacher is really difficult. It’s a very noble and appreciable effort. But, for a teacher, “The measurement of success is not only in the mere number of passes and fails, but in the number of pupil whom they helped in going beyond their own limitations to identify their own niche”.

    It’s important that a child grows up with self-esteem and confidence to face the world regardless of numbers. Though, these numbers do give the child critically-acclaimed educational opportunities and a career, it’s the skill of re-bouncing in tough situations that prepare them for the journey called ‘Life’. Life cannot be lived only based on text books and numbers.

    “Give the child the gift of HOPE and an opportunity to dream the impossible”.

  6. I’ve had a teacher like that . ..who mocked me …made fun of me and believed she was actually smart . And calling a child hopeless is not really about the salaries the teachers draw isn’t it ? Its about forcing your own personal failure upon the unsuspecting shoulders of the child . Parents or teachers have no right to call a child ‘hopeless” . Glad this little girl had Mrs Murthy to look upto and she could put the demons of past behind her 🙂

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