Inspiration from a multitude

C. Rama Devi

Debashish Chatterjee says, “Teachers go on to teach a subject with very little knowledge of the real subject – the ‘student’”.

This ‘Teacher’s Day’ I want to ponder on this idea. When I go back to identify that one soul who transformed my learning into wisdom, it is quite difficult. Not that I never had inspiring teachers, yet it will be too much for me to give the whole and sole credit to one person. I owe my life to my parents as they were my first teachers, but in the formal world of education I had undoubtedly many educators who played a vital role in shaping me into what I am today. Math, science, languages, social science – all these subjects were taught but what I wish to know is who was that lighthouse in the vast ocean?

I don’t remember my first sports class or my first hobby class. But today when I am an educator myself, I try to find a good sportsperson in every child. I try to see if the individual is able to work more in the fields than in the classroom. My intention is that no child is left out to identify his/her own talent. I bow my head in reverence to that teacher who instilled this life skill in me where I can identify talent and mould it accordingly. I strongly feel that my educators had always given importance to the curriculum but I have a realization that the curriculum can only become important when the child is prepared to face it. What is more important is to discover the child and nurture his/her desire to discover himself/herself. Every Vivekananda needs a Ramakrishna, every Helen Keller needs an Anne Sullivan. A teacher can quench his/her student’s thirst for knowledge and bring a sheen to his/her character.

An educator becomes a ‘guru’ when s/he gives vision to his/her students, when s/he takes you on the journey from your head to your heart, when s/he brings awareness and awakens the dormant human possibilities. A teacher is not the one who teaches ‘what’ but the one who explains ‘how’. S/he does not give examples but takes his/her pupil on an exploration. S/he does not preach but tries to reach. A learned man can never be a teacher but a man of learning can change the world for the better because he has immersed himself in learning. I bow my head in reverence to that teacher who brought this realization in me!

Today’s education has set itself in the frame of professionalism for the wrong reasons. An institution of learning can never be the means of earning. Learning is a journey and knowledge is its destination. Both can be achieved and possessed but not sold. Educators will have to know this simple truth. I sought this truth with the help of my teachers and am grateful to them!

A teacher is like the invisible roots of trees. She nurtures a sense of responsibility in her learners and keeps nurturing. They are not seen but they exist. At the same time as an educator, I appeal to everyone to spot that invisible potential in your learners so that the world is full of human resources. Our first commitment as educators of the 21st century would be to preserve our humanity. We are not destined to become extinct. Surely we have to evolve! Thanks to my teachers who brought this understanding in me!

Teaching is a passionate pursuit. It has the strength to get into the DNA of the next generation. It can be transferred from one generation to another. Teaching is like craftsmanship. An artist is always passionate to create a masterpiece and once he is done, he is not satisfied. He moves on. Teachers too are like artists and they keep striving for a masterpiece and when they are done with one, they search for more. A learner is that rock on which his/her teacher finds a beautiful piece of art. It was my teachers who sculpted a statue out of clay.

One of the most crucial roles of teachers is to transform instincts into intellect. An ordinary teacher diverts but an extraordinary teacher transforms. A learner has intentions, intense emotions and numerous motives. It is the duty of his/her teacher to transform these into concrete and fruitful results. The power of concentration can easily separate a good learner from an average one. This realization is possible only because of my revered teachers.

Is the content of the subject important or the state of mind of the learner? An obsessed teacher may race to finish the curriculum. But a committed teacher will give the learner his/her time to reach and surpass the hurdles of learning. A teacher must wait to watch his/her learner stand upright at the top. I thank my teachers for providing me with such insight.

A good teacher explains but a great teacher enlivens. It is quite simple to understand. The function of computers must be explained as it is a manmade object. But a butterfly need not always be explained. It must be observed. The ability to distinguish what should be explained and what should be observed makes a good teacher great. Thank you teachers for identifying such an ‘observer’ in me.

Out in the world, it is a hostage situation for students. They find themselves in the clutches of parental pressure, teacher’s pressure, peer pressure and sometime self-pressure too. Not only pace but also space must be given to the learners. A gentle touch, a pleasant smile, a kind comment, a listening ear and an honest feedback will not only increase the teacher’s likeability (but also the learners will like the course).

There is a difference between a qualified teacher and a quality teacher. In the initial stage of my career I had always prioritized my degrees but time and again I felt that qualitative learning comes only when a teacher sharpens his/her ‘edge’. Quality teachers evolve through constant practice and self-reflection. When they learn from their blunders, errors and mistakes, they master the craft of teaching. I thank all my inspiring mentors for enabling me to understand the meaning of a quality teacher.

Finally, I want to say to all the educators, ‘Give your love and care to your learners, not your thoughts; your wisdom, not your preaching; your insight, not your compulsions. Give them your ‘I can’ attitude and not ‘I may’ attitude. After all, it is attitude which matters. I thank my teachers for giving me this attitude.

This is why I have come to this one conclusion – ‘Think of one, none! But inspired by everyone!!’.

The author is Senior Principal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Public School, Hyderabad. She can be reached at [email protected].

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