Being a teacher is no joke. It may not be high paying or allowing us the luxuries to travel business class or getting the school more profits. But it’s where the future of our children is getting shaped. And especially in the present context, being a teacher is tough.
They get up early so they can finish the housework before they head out to manage the school work. They work extra because they know it matters – it matters what their children learn, it matters what the students need and it has to be provided at all costs. Dealing with minor crises comes as easily to them as breathing.
They may be sitting across the screen, appearing to be far away, yet they know what each child is feeling – reaching out to them, encouraging them and wiping away their fears. They may have fears of their own – about how to manage the online class or falling short in their teaching as its beyond their comfort zone or dealing with the sometimes unrealistic expectations of the parents. Yet they are there, always. The transition from ‘my students’ to ‘my children’ happens so seamlessly that it is almost overlooked.
The teacher to the child is the first source of the vast knowledge (note – I said knowledge, not information) that he is being exposed to. Under the prevalent education system, importance is paid more to the academic subjects and the contents of those subjects. Merit is based on their performance during the examinations, which in other words means the ability of the student to reproduce the printed text of the redundant syllabus of his books. Especially in India, we tend to completely ignore the personality development of the student by not encouraging him to think differently. It is the teacher who moulds his mind to either become the narrow intellectual, whose knowledge is restricted to the subject-specific, or the dilettante, whose knowledge is inadequate and shallow.
The teaching profession has been a profession that has had it’s fair share of critics. The sequencing, balance, content and organization of general and specialist academic work, professional studies and teaching experience have always been an integral part of every discussion on this profession. But how do we know what or who is the ideal teacher? A teacher is someone who must adjust to the new developments of the educational technology, the growth of the human knowledge, and deal with the ubiquitous problem of making an appropriate and relevant curriculum of the enormous range of material available. They need to have a new understanding of how children develop and learn in this changing environment. The growing range of the empirical data and speculation generated by the burgeoning social sciences, philosophy and history provide a rich ore for the preparation of the ideal teacher.
During the last few years there has been a tendency by whichever is the Govt. at the Centre to influence the contents of the curriculums. The idea is not so fresh, and the outcome certainly isn’t. The whole point of giving more freedom in choosing ones’ subjects of study is once again ignored. The students need to be treated as individual assets for us to benefit from in the future. India has a young demography and for us to tap into this advantage, importance needs to be given to what is being taught. New and relevant subjects, innovative teaching techniques and open minds are the need of the hour. And it is likely there will be a greater recognition of the importance of moral and personal education in this world of pluralistic values and goals.
Teaching is not a profession but a part of social responsibility. It’s not a career but a service.