The teachers at Ishaan’s old school are disciplinarians, and they offer
no adaptation of their teaching methods for the struggling student. In
one of his classes, the teacher asks Ishaan to read aloud a passage to
which he responds, “The letters are dancing.” Aggressively, the teacher
replies, “Trying to be funny? Read the sentence loud and proper!
LOUD AND PROPER!” before she kicks him out of the class. Ishaan
is simply telling her why he is unable to read the sentence, a symptom
of his dyslexia, but instead of trying to understand his struggle, she
refuses to teach him.
Once at boarding school, Ishaan faces more bad teachers. His
poetry teacher denies his intricate interpretation of a poem because it
does not follow his model. Ishaan’s English teacher speedily recites the
material he needs to know and expects him to retain it. The old art
teacher throws a piece of chalk at Ishaan’s head for staring out the
window and then proceeds to slap his knuckles with a ruler when he
does not respond to a question. Not one teacher picks up on the
obvious signs of Ishaan’s dyslexia nor do they care to personalize the
curriculum to meet the needs of any student, let alone Ishaan.
The film makes a blatant statement about how Indian society
and the education system view learning disabilities as an excuse to be
lazy and disobedient rather than as a student’s inability to excel
academically without accommodations. According to an article by
Sanjukta Ghosh, “Taare Zameen Par succeeds in deconstructing the
discourses of pity and deviance so prevalent in filmic representations of
disability” (Ghosh 63). The movie displays how not only educators
overlook disabilities but also parents’ denial of their children’s
disabilities due to the negative social stigma attached to them. Ishaan’s
stern father exclaims, “She thinks my son is a retard” when the principal
of his old school recommends a school for special needs children.
Similarly, when Nikumbh explains dyslexia to Ishaan’s parents, his
father says the disability is “an excuse to avoid studying.” While both
Ishaan’s parents eventually come to realize the impact of his disability,
their initial reaction to its symptoms accurately portrays how Indian