Teachers Must Introspect And Lead A Change In Society
Teacher imparts guidance to the students not simply by classroom sermons but by actual living to his credo and transmitting his values to the pupils. India has great tradition of learning and teaching. Our five-thousand-year-old scriptures speak for it as Upanishad and Gita are dialogues between teachers and the taught
Recently we have celebrated Teachers’ Day with great fanfare and gaiety. I got a few dozen greetings from the students who remembered me but was it the only spirit of the day? To celebrate a day once a year is the western tradition but it certainly is reminder of people who we tend to forget. Once my boss in Montreal, where I was working with UN agency, said while laughing: “These people celebrate mother’s day once in a year but when I go to Punjab and I do not meet my mother even for a day she gets angry and when I meet her next time she says in Panjabi: ‘main kya mar gayen hain’.” For Indians everyday is mother’s day. It is truer for a teacher as his teaching is constant.
Teacher imparts guidance to the students not simply by classroom sermons but by actual living to his credo and transmitting his values to the pupils. India had great tradition of learning and teaching. Our five-thousand-years-old scriptures speak for it as Upanishad and Gita are dialogues between teachers and the taught. When I wrote my book ‘Dialogues with Yeti’ I chose to adopt dialogues as the essence of imparting the core of my thinking and learning in that form. Book starts with the story of Nachiketa, who, when asked by his father to go to Yama, undergoes penance. After fasting for long that pleases God of death who asks him what does he want. Nachiketa says he wants to learn the secret of life and death. Yama offers him pleasures and wealth of the world but the young man rejects all to choose knowledge of Brahman. Yama accepts to teach him. It is in the form of his dialogues with Nachitketa.
I was invited two years back by Benaras Hindu University to deliver a key-note address in one of the international seminars. On the dais I realised that speakers from different countries of the world had power point presentations but I was, as usual, going to deliver extempore presentation. I began my presentation with a brief observation that I have not brought any power point presentation but I have some power full points. The house burst into a spontaneous applause. I adopted dialogues and extempore presentation to delineate my thinking. Next day, it was prominently covered in the Press. I always maintain and also tell other teaching community that a teacher must speak from heart and not only mind. You can speak from heart only when you have abundantly learnt the lessons of life and absorbed your research within you. Buddha and Shankarachya did not carry notes and power point with them yet they could change the world. I still remember my Professor of Philosophy, who made great impact on us sometime by dramatically presenting ideas.
A teacher must know what his approach to teaching and care for the participants by ensuring good transfer of knowledge and attitudes. I asked my granddaughter Diva in Delhi to tell me what she considers the most important quality of a teacher. Shem promptly said: “A teacher must understand the students.” A ninth class student enlightened me and I found this the key element. Understanding involves empathy which makes a teacher to place himself in the place students and go deep in knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the taught it is not sympathy that is simple feeling for someone. For, the child feels that teachers do not give adequate time to listen to the students and their problems. A good teacher knows himself and the students. I, therefore, advocate and practice participative teaching and not simply reading and assigning home work as it was told many teachers do. A teacher must build the students as creative makers of future India. Narendra Modi is one PM who is a great teacher and on Teacher’s Day he displayed his acumen. What he says is worth remembering that a teacher never retires as he continues to learn and teach. A teacher must take deep interest in acquiring and imparting knowledge and to understand a student he must know his aptitude and capacity to guide him for reaching his optimum achievement. A good teacher inspires his students and makes impact on their psyche as early age is best to acquire positive attitude.
By NK singh
(The author is former Chairman of AAI.)