What do you visualize when you think of a ‘teacher’?
Does the figure of a flamboyant, rich and pompous image appear in your imagination? For most of us, “Teacher” would mean a down to earth, well-grounded human being. A person who has knowledge as well as the ability to transform an individual’s life. A person whom you place at a very high echelon when it comes to respecting.
“Guru Govind dou khade, kake lagun pay”
“Balihari guru aapki, Govind diyo batay”
India has traditionally been known for its ‘guru-shishya” methodology of teaching-learning. Over time as our civilization grew further, somewhere on the way this evolved into a ‘teacher-student’ mechanism. When I was a school going kid, a teacher passing by in the school corridor was a moment of prayer for us students. We would immediately greet the teacher and experience the elixir. Today, one can see students leading a “teacher agnostic” social life.
The overall respect for this profession has been depleting over time. Once, I was conducting a day-long training programme on topic ‘career guidance’ for a group of principals. To begin with the session, I asked all of them to complete the following sentence:
“If I had not become a teacher, the alternate best career option for me would have been ….”
You will be surprised (or even shocked) to know that, only a handful of participants said they would have become a teacher under any circumstances. Majority of them actually used it as an opportunity to vent out their frustration and dissatisfaction with their profession!
Across the world, “Teaching” is undisputedly considered as the noblest of all professions. However, not everyone is usually keen to become a teacher, especially in India. As a career counsellor, when I advise students to opt for teaching as a career, ‘the first objection is usually raised by the parent’. The immediate response is, ‘No, not a teacher, please. Can you suggest any’better career option”?
There are several reasons for this situation. One significant factor is that ‘Teaching is a specialized skill and not everyone can teach”. To be a successful teacher, one does not only need to have a glorious academic degree. Many add on attributes are required like empathy, communication skills, engagement ability, serving attitude, kindness, being pious at heart, desire to positively impact other lives, a deep-rooted concern about others well-being etc. The biggest reward for a teacher is not when he/she receives a salary or increment. When a teacher comes to know of the success and growth of a disciple, it inflates his/her joy!
Think of that teacher who might have never been exposed to the digital world. A person who might be an expert in teaching say ‘Pythagoras Theorem’ to students but might be impaired with technology. Such a human being has taken not much time to adjust, adapt and evolve as an online teacher during these pandemic times! Yet, many such noble human beings are not able to get regular salaries. It is not just while this covid19 times, but even during the pre-corona phase, teaching has been the most underpaid profession.
On the one hand, we believe that “teachers are the nation builders”, but simultaneously they do not get the due regard which they deserve.
Regrettably, teachers are the most miscellaneously used professional in our nation today. There are a host of unrelated job roles which keeps an underpaid teacher engaged round the year. It ranges from the job of conducting elections to executing polio mission and also to collect population census data.
The world is gravitating towards a culture of instant gratification, receding tolerance levels and also a high rate of depression. These are, definitely not encouraging signals for us. The ever-increasing pace of suicide, frustration, unhappiness in the society is highly alarming. With parents, being over-indulged in making a living or into social media, the only hope to restore peace, prosperity and positivity in our nation lies with our revered teachers.
It is high time, we all made collective and conscious efforts to reinstate the glory of this profession called ‘teaching’. While there could be many strategies to do so, one idea I wish to propagate is to declare teaching as “The National Profession of India”. This shall definitely bring back the due respect and attention towards our “teachers.” They are the ones who can inculcate values in our future generations. They can rightfully lead this society.
When we have a national holiday, national game, national song, national animal, anthem, national emblem, the national language, etc., why not a National Profession?
I request the honourable Prime Minister of India, the education Minister of India and all esteemed dignitaries into education policymaking to think over this suggestion.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.