Akshath is a senior at FIS that has been at this school since the age of 5 and his mother, Mrs Gurtu, is a fellow member of the facultative community. She started as a substitute in 2013/14 and became an official teacher in 2015/16. She has been teaching computer science, especially for 6-9th grades, and is known in the community for her energetic teaching approach. Akshath has agreed to share his experiences and thoughts about having a mother as a teacher.
How do you feel about having Mrs Gurtu at school?
Well, I don’t see her that often. She is at school most of the time that I am here, but, funnily enough, I’ve never had a class with her and, since she is a teacher, she is in a classroom or her office most of the time. So, I don’t see her that often and we don’t really interact [with each other] that often or extensively. However, I do feel that sometimes it can be slightly awkward. Not really, awkward, but embarrassing. Sometimes she sees me at lunch and breaks, for example, and she comes up to me and can say some stuff, about me especially, (…) that can embarrass me slightly, but I don’t really care about that stuff.
How has this impacted your social life at school?
I don’t think this has affected my social life very much. My mom doesn’t get involved too much with my social life. Obviously most people know her, so I sometimes get associated with her. (…) My friends sometimes tease (…) me for it, which is mildly annoying, but again, I don’t really care about this too much. I remember once that I was in the library with my friends and other students from my grade and we were being really loud as usual. Then, all of a sudden, my mom stormed in through the door and started [scolding] us, which was kind of awkward for all of us – especially me. In the end, we quietened down and it wasn’t that bad for me because it was a rather funny experience and everyone had been scolded collectively.
Are there any benefits of having your mother at the school on a daily basis?
Yes, there are definitely benefits. In my opinion, it outweighs the downsides. It can be really helpful to just be able to find your mom at school and ask her for something. For example when I need money and I either forgot [my wallet] (…) I can just walk to her office or go find her at school and ask for some money. Or when I forget some work at home, she usually comes to school later, so I can just ask her to take it and bring it to me. So yeah, it’s quite useful overall.
How does her behaviour change at school compared to at home?
You would assume that she would change and be nicer right? Funnily enough, she barely changes at all. At school, she can be strict (…) and at home, this is the exact same. I would say that she tells me off the same [way] as she does to other people, even a bit more. I think that’s just how she is, and even if this isn’t really ideal for me, I deserve it most of the time. Also, she doesn’t really help me with schoolwork. My dad does that way more often. Her being a teacher makes her want me to learn as an independent student and figure stuff out by myself. For example in computer science, both my parents have the same background and are equally qualified, but my mom never helps me with assignments or studying, while my dad is usually willing to help me if I need it or ask for it.
How involved is your mom in your social and school life compared to your life at home?
My mom is equally involved in both. Maybe a bit more in my outside life, since at home we are closer and talk more often. The only time I can think of where she is involved in school life is when she knows more information about certain students and friends that I don’t know myself. She has the privilege of teacher connections and so she hears things about students that may be good or bad. However, even if I ask her to tell me something, she won’t, so that’s mildly annoying.
Is there any influence that your mother has on your teachers or does she try to influence them at all?
Well, firstly, my mom made it her rule of thumb since she started teaching that at school she would act strictly as a teacher and not as a parent. So she would never go up to a teacher and ask if I am doing well in that class. Unless I specifically ask her to talk to one of my teachers, she wouldn’t, because that’s not professional for the school environment. Also, teachers can always approach her and tell her things that I’ve been doing in class or where I should work on a bit more. So I never really get to hide a bad test score. Teachers also don’t treat me any differently knowing that I am one of their colleague’s sons. I don’t ever get any benefits compared to others, which is fair. Also, if I ever argue with one of my teachers [my mom] is likely to side with the teacher because she understands their perspective more than mine.
If you were in a class with her as your teacher, would you refer to her as Mrs Gurtu or mom and why?
I would for sure call her mom. But this is a hard question because you have to keep it professional at school, but personally I think it would just be weird to call her Mrs Gurtu. Like, imagine your mom being your teacher. Wouldn’t it be weird to not call her mom? At least that’s how I feel. I think that my mom would definitely prefer for me to call her Mrs Gurtu because she likes to keep it professional since it is her job after all, but I feel like I would stick to what I want to do anyway. Luckily, I haven’t had her as a teacher and never will, so I don’t have to worry about it.
Overall, according to Akshath’s experiences, having a teacher at the school is at worst only a mild inconvenience and in most cases an advantage. Akshath claims that having a parent at the school isn’t very different from any other student’s school experience, which is definitely understandable, especially if you don’t have any classes with them as your teacher. So, surprisingly, it’s more advantageous than many of us expected.