The truth of the matter

While offering an honest opinion may be the righteous thing to do, we sometimes hold back for fear that it may adversely affect the other party.

I SOMETIMES wonder what life would be like if everybody speaks the entire truth, or tells it like it really is all the time.

Imagine waking up one day and deciding that from that day on, every single thing you say, write, record, or calculate as a teacher would be the total unadulterated truth with no padding or omissions. No more half-truths, half-lies or exaggerations. From now on it is going to be 100% honesty in school even if it is going to hurt.

You soon discover that there’s more to honesty than speaking the entire truth all the time.

Some things like making sure what you do in the classroom and what you write in your teaching record are an exact match, though inconvenient, is not impossible. However, there seems to be a larger struggle when others are involved.

For instance, how do you give minimum competency grades in a certain field to students as has been “advised” by your superiors when you know that they don’t come anywhere near minimum competency.

How do you record a student’s conduct as “satisfactory” or even “good” in their school-leaving certificate when he has been disruptive, rude, ill-mannered and lazy.

If you had to be entirely truthful, then it may mean that only 10% of your co-curriculum society members actually showed up regularly for their club or society meetings. But some manipulation of meetings and dates allow for attendance numbers to be inflated in order to make school records look good and not subject the school to unwanted scrutiny from the powers that be.

Deep inside, you may feel uncomfortable with the way the truth is somewhat twisted, but in the end you shrug it off and succumb to instructions because there simply seems to be no other way.

After all, we rationalise, we are not the ones making these decisions. We merely carry out what has been directed by those above us. And yet at the end of it all, we are left with an uneasy feeling that this is not the way it should be.

Our written records should reflect what really has gone on and not what we may have desired them to be.

Still, there are times when the decision is a really tough one. When do we tell it like it is and when do we hold back?


For instance when you are asked to give a genuine appraisal of a colleague’s performance, it may be really difficult to write any response that reflects badly on her teaching competence no matter how true it is.

We know that any negative comment we give may jeopardise her chances of moving ahead and we don’t want to be the ones responsible for holding her back.

by Mallika Vasugi.

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