From lecturing to mentoring

Amit Kumar Uppal

Teaching is a job that needs a high level of dedication, not because it keeps the fires in your house burning, but because it can give you a sense of fulfillment, a chance to change many young lives for the better. This profession is an incubator for all other professions – doctors, engineers, architects, designers and even teachers. In fact, a teacher holds a country’s future in his/her hands. Therefore, being a teacher doesn’t mean only being knowledgeable in select topics or subjects, it is much more than that. A teacher is meant to do more than merely deliver lectures in the classroom and correct answer sheets. This is why one has to be absolutely sure of the effort and commitment one can put in if one has decided to become a teacher. Dealing with students is just one side of this profession; a teacher also has to have the courage and tenacity to fight when necessary or take along at other times the other stakeholders of education – parents, management and sometimes even the government. Being a good teacher is not enough anymore. There’s no doubt that we need great teachers.

So what makes a good teacher, great? When I was six years old, my cousin taught me how to ride a bicycle. He removed the supporting wheels, asked me to sit and pushed the bicycle over and over. Gradually, after two or three days of this, I started riding on my own. But if riding a bicycle were taught in school, I am sure it would have been quite complicated. One would have begun with the history of the bicycle and then asked questions like what is the function of the pedals? What is the chain made of? How are the wheels assembled? Define friction through balancing. All the concepts of physics would have been applied to riding a bicycle. After this the student would have been asked to write a paper on the working of the bicycle and its logic in school. Only then would I be qualified to ride a bicycle. Guess what? As a six year old, I would have refused to learn to ride a bicycle if I had to go through all this. As teachers, we need to understand that there is a world outside the school. There are a lot of challenges and difficulties that children face outside the school. And we need to prepare them for it. Understanding the curriculum is only a small part of life. There is a lot to learn, explore and experience. In my opinion, a teacher should be a mentor and this is what will make a good teacher great. The idea behind mentoring is to be more empathetic towards children rather than judgmental. Every child is special and we need to understand this. Every child has some hidden talent that a mentor is always on the lookout for and once the mentor finds it, he/she begins nurturing it. This is how a mentor can be spotted in a crowd of teachers.

Mentors are agents of social transformation; they make the necessary changes in society by training their students to bring about a better society. It is now up to us to decide whether we are satisfied being teachers or we want to climb up a step and become mentors.

The author is the Vice Principal of Shanti Public Hr. Sec. School, Guna (M.P). He has been working in the field of education for 8 years and has the experience of teaching all age groups. He can be reached at uppal.it@gmail.com.