Oh, to be a teacher!
A teacher is no longer just a tape recorder who reads something and rattles out some information to you. He or she is someone who is going to make a student’s life, by inspiring their life to be in a certain way
In Indian culture, we have always recognised a teacher as a very important part of one’s life, to the extent, we said: “Acharya Devo Bhava”, which means a teacher is like a god. Because generally, growing children spent more time with their teachers than with their parents. The idea of parents sending children to school is because somewhere they know that someone else could be a better influence upon their children than they could.
The importance of a teacher
People think there is no longer any significance to a teacher in today’s generation because everything that a teacher can say, the Internet can say. But a teacher has a significant role in the making of an individual human being, in the making of society, a nation and the world at large. In fact, I think the significance of teachers has gone up manifold because the burden of delivering information has been taken away from them.
A teacher’s job becomes mainly to inspire and enhance a student as a human being, which has always been the main task. A teacher is no longer just a tape recorder who reads something and rattles out some information to you. He or she is someone who is going to make a student’s life, by inspiring their life to be in a certain way.
Largely for many children, which teacher is teaching a particular subject determines whether they love or hate that subject. If a student identifies with the teacher, if the teacher is inspiring enough, the subject suddenly becomes interesting. A teacher definitely plays a big role in the process of enhancing capabilities and developing a child’s interest in a particular subject.
The qualities of a good teacher
If we have to build any nation into something worthwhile, the highest calibre of people should go into school teaching. What kind of influence the child comes under in those first 15 years determines many things about his/her life. The best quality of minds, the highest level of integrity and the liveliest levels of inspiration should go into the making of a teacher.
However, today, we have set up an economic and social situation where many people become schoolteachers only because they cannot go anywhere else. This is not true for all teachers of course, but this is happening with many teachers. This has to change. If this does not change, we will not build a society of any substance. We will build very low-quality human beings, low-quality society and low-quality nations.
Intelligence, integrity and inspiration
A teacher does not mean he has to have ten PHDs hanging from his head. A teacher does not mean children should just wait for the dole-out of what the teacher knows. A teacher means in that person’s presence, people should learn things that even the teacher does not know.
Children are humanity in the making. What a teacher makes of them when they are in their hands is one of the greatest responsibilities and privileges a human being can have. Any human activity is significant only if we are able to touch another life. That you can actually shape another life is a tremendous privilege. When such a privilege is being vested in someone’s hands, it is very important that the highest calibre of minds, and the highest integrity and inspiration goes into that.
Popularity is important for a teacher. By popularity, I do not mean populism and compromise. But if you are not popular, everyone will work against you and you will not be effective. You are very effective only when everyone cooperates willingly. If no one wants to cooperate with you, you are not going to be effective.