Teacher’s Day – C’est ma fête

Education starts at home but one cannot deny that it is the teacher who moulds the student into a proper adult and a good citizen

It used to be looked upon, not as one of the noblest, but the very noblest profession itself. What was it then, one wonders which renders it so special? What is it which sets teaching apart from the rest of other professions? Can it be that somehow, teachers have been endowed with a divine touch? According to the precepts of Hinduism the teacher, “guru”, to use its more precise term, ranks after God, before the parents.

In fact, the role of the teacher can never be overemphasised. It is true that Education starts at home but nevertheless one cannot deny that it is the teacher who moulds the student into a proper adult and subsequently shapes him into a good citizen. It therefore rests upon the former to impart not only knowledge, but a sound bearing as well to the students. Stories have come down to us and they abound with praise for the teacher. Among others, we recall Eclavya, who not for a second fluttered an eyelid, when his guru exacted his fee from him. He gladly sacrificed his thumb.

Perhaps this concept of due to the guru is largely exaggerated. Nevertheless, it essentially points out that the guru’s word is law and the idea of questioning it does not arise. When one sits and ponders, one comes to the realisation that the teacher is very much like an architect. Indeed he is the architect of the future of all his students. The responsibility lying on his shoulders is quite huge. Of course, he is not Atlas, made to bear the weight of the sky but nevertheless the responsibility remains immense. The teacher is often looked upon as a role model by his students. Thus, it becomes imperative for him not to go any step amiss, at least not in front of them and maintain an air of infallibility. Yet, being human after all, he has a deep sense of satisfaction, fulfilment and even pride when the learners, under his guidance, have achieved in life.

Unfortunately teaching is no longer what it used to be. The golden days mentioned above are sadly lost and they are irrevocably irretrievable. The initial response a teacher gets from someone to whom he has told his trade is one of envy. Teaching is a job where one is paid for not doing any work at all. In addition there are the holidays plus the bad weather conditions where school is closed. No one ever speaks of the endless marking, preparation of lesson notes, both of them thoroughly time consuming, back breaking and must be taken home for completion. The general opinion nowadays is that the teacher shuns his duty and saves up his energy for tuitions after school hours. For sure he is no longer held in respect and still less in awe.

Yet he is not at the end of his dilemma. His trials and tribulations reach epic and tragic dimensions when now in class. Only a few are in a mood to study, to learn anything. School has sadly become for many, merely a place to make merry and the teacher’s word no longer has any weight. Worse, he must reckon with all kinds of refractory attitudes. The student today is bold, fearless, insolent and defiant. He is willing to do anything except study. There is absolutely no limit to how far his fertile imagination can stretch. When he is ‘at his best’, he will only make paper balls or aeroplanes and throw them at his friends. He is also on his mobile, either listening music or playing games. He indulges in all kinds of sounds as a means of relieving the sheer boredom of explanation. At his worst, he can become so foul mouthed that it would perhaps be wiser for the teacher to turn a deaf ear.

In any case, the parents are forever present to shield their wards. It is the teacher who is incapable of classroom management and he is only blowing things out of proportion to cover up his own ineptitude. Sad indeed that what once was the noblest profession should have sunk into a drab one. Sublime is not a word with which we can associate teaching anymore. For the sake of each and every one, the time is no doubt now to do something about our wayward youth. Otherwise we shall be left to repent. Don’t let it be said again that the teacher is to blame.

 

  • Published in print edition on 6 October 2017

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