There is no dispute that the teachers are the cornerstone of the society and they hold the key to India’s future and achieving Sustainable Development Goals. We must recognise the ability of the teachers to clear the potential bottlenecks in the pipelines of India’s well-rounded progress. On August 15, 1947, as freedom dawned on India, Dr Radhkrishnan, India’s most eminent teacher, alerted the fellow citizens, “Our opportunities are great, but let me warn you that when power strips ability, we will fall upon evil days. We should, therefore, develop competence and ability that will help us to utilise the opportunities open to us”. Teachers, therefore, should be the best minds. The job of an educator is born out of moral beliefs and ethical practices aligned with the fabric of India and societal sanctions.
A teacher is not equivalent to teaching. Teaching is of no consequence if the learner is not inspired and transformed. In the genuine spirit of Indian philosophy, the teachers’ relationship with the students, is intertwined in their elevation together. The Upanishadic mantra, Om Shaha Naav(au)- Avatu/Saha Nau Bhunaktu/ Saha Viiryam Kkarvaavahai/ Tejasvi Naav(au)- Adhitam Astu Maa Vidissaavahai, speaks volumes about this unique bonding between the two. Teacher and students under the Supreme protection acquire the spring of knowledge and enlightenment together. They elevate themselves from the mundane and shine without any constrictions.
The technology-heavy 21st century has pushed the teacher-student geniality to a new territory. It’s a commonplace to believe that teachers are no longer the only receptacle of all knowledge. Today, there is a less-than-rosy picture to report about the teachers’ orbit in the society. A recalibration of their position and reconfiguration of their teaching style, with all the resources rooted in our ancient wisdom, and modern technology, is the only redeeming possibility. With the expansion of educational reach its time for the society to ensure quality education for all the children irrespective of their socio-economic background.
How can this be done? Complete devotion to work with the students, the spirit of servanthood and an unwavering commitment to life-long learning are the core values of a teacher’s duty. HH Dalai Lama prescribes that a teacher must be disciplined, compassionate and at peace with herself. An unconditional, undiminishing and indiscriminate love for the students is the hallmark of an ideal teacher. The Students’ perception that teachers respect them and care about their success is a catalyst in forging a lasting trust and relationship with the teacher.
The society must accord the highest respect to the teachers; governments should keep them out of the inadequacies of life and resource crunch, and they should allow them a free hand to innovate. The nation has underinvested in the teachers. The best-performing countries in school education have taken good care of their teachers according to them respect, compensation, pre and in-service education, research, and technology. Having taken care, in return, teachers must also be in readiness for the hardship, sacrifice, and all that takes to raise the gross national character.
The writer is educationist and SDGs enthusiast
By Ashok Pandey