I wish to share with my readers, what I have learnt as a teacher from my six years of teaching experience. I have learnt that human beings perform either out of connection or out of separation. If we perform out of connection, we contribute and if we perform out of separation, we compete. We need to inspire our students to perform out of a sense of connection. The obvious question you would want to ask is what this connection and separation is all about.
When we connect with our inner self, we perform from within. We perform not to compete with someone but to contribute. We perform because we wish to share our wisdom, knowledge, and our potential and not because we want to show off the information and the ability we possess to the world. When we perform our best because we have to be better than someone else or because we have to secure a place in this competitive world, we perform out of separation. We separate ourselves from our friends and peers, because now they have become our rivals. Thus, even if we succeed, our success is out of separation, from our friends and peers. However, once we achieve that success, we then have no one to compete with. As they say, there is a crowd at the bottom of the ladder but ample space above. This space is not because we are the best, but because we are all alone. Now, consider the case when we perform not to compete, but to contribute to our surroundings. We work because we want everyone to gain from our efforts. We want to be successful in whatever we do because we know that others will benefit from our achievement. Performance out of connection inspires humility and selflessness. Performance out of separation will breed arrogance and selfishness.
Our aim as teachers must, therefore, be to help our students realize the difference between sharing and showing. The former brings connection, while the latter separation. Students need to perform not to disclose their talents, but to help others achieve their potential. This is only possible when we kindle the spirit in our students.
But, how do we instil this spirit in our students? The answer is quite simple. Acknowledge. Acknowledge and appreciate the students for what they are and not what you want them to be. Let them express their true selves. Let them do what they like and not like what you want them to do. Let their likes and interests become their work. Only then will their work become an act of service. Help them arouse their spirit by realizing their true self and their true interest in life. Encourage them to study each subject not because they have to compete with each other, but because every subject they study will awaken a spiritual layer in them. It will take them closer to their true selves. It is absolutely fine if a student seems disinterested in academic subjects and instead wishes to be a rock star. If it is his true self, he will contribute music to society. He will work to serve music lovers.
It is not an impossible task to achieve, all you have to do is to take off your glasses and instead wear theirs.
The author is a teacher in Rizvi College of Education, Maharashtra. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.