Friday, 2 September 2011

Teacher’s Day and its significance today

Teachers' Day is celebrated in India and probably all over the world on the Fifth September. Students wait for this day especially as it  is a way of thanking their teachers for their dedication, patience and affection. As such, students of  senior most classes  mainly grades eleventh and twelfth wait eagerly fro a chance  to play the role of their favourite teachers. Usually, the school is handed over to the students who are responsible and good in studies. The selected students take over from the regular teaching duties right from assembly till the recess or the middle of the working day. Students conduct assembly and they take up their teaching duties assigned to them according to the time-table.
The day is specially important for the teacher-student fraternity because it falls on the birthday of Dr.S.Radhakrishnan the Ex-Educationist and President of India. Teacher’s Day symbolises a recognition of the invaluable services and contribution teachers  in a society which is more and more materialistic. Unfortunately for us, today, the value of a teacher is marked by the number of batches he has for tuition, and how much he earns apart from his salary! But then, it is not for his earning potential that a teacher viewed with respect, if you want to identify the qualities of a good teacher, then, think back to the times when you were a student, think about a teacher you admired the most, and still admire, and you will realise that the ideal teacher, your favourite teacher was a strict, but accessible teacher. He or she would be one who always had a word of encouragement for you, he always explained difficult things patiently, he was a person without ego or pride, he was always punctual, always ready to spare some time for you, he always had a way of controlling the class, not by shouting but through his charisma, or perhaps a rather exceptional grasp of the way a child thinks, when required, this same teacher could become as innocent as the children he taught!
It is unfortunate that in this rather commercial society, many think they can buy the services of a teacher, his heart and soul as well! You can't in any case do this, because he doesn’t part with knowledge and wisdom for a fees but for a love to make a difference! It is only when the student takes up the role of the teacher, albeit for a few classes,  that he realises what a difficult job it is to be a teacher. In the school where I previously served as a teacher for so many years, students always spoke about what a difficult time they had in controlling the students! Many of them even stated that they would never be teachers! Some, however became very firm in their resolve to become teachers when they grew up-God Bless Them! It saddens me greatly when I see that adults turn towards the teaching profession only after they have failed to pass the prelims of the Civil Service exams! By the time they complete their professional training, they are well past that prime age for entering into this rather noble and challenging profession! It goes without saying that not everyone can become an ideal teacher today! You have to have a passion for teaching, you should have an aptitude for teaching, and when you have all these qualities, you should have the eagerness to learn new things,the readiness learn from your students. After this you should have a passion for innovation, research, experimentation and the desire to rise above the narrow confines of the syllabus, text-book, and the narrow confines of the walls of your class-room.
For me Teacher’s Day signifies an affirmation of the qualities of the ideal teacher, whether it was Mahatma Gandhi, Dr.S.Radhakrishnan, Jesus Christ, or even that favourite teacher that you remember! Teacher's day is a tribute to the teacher, the second parent, the Nation-builder, the builder of character or the builder of careers. I remember a story that the Manager of my previous school once sent me, and I would like to summarise it as follows:
There was a get-together of some families of top executives. Each one of the men boasted. The director of a firm boasted about the profits he had brought to the firm, the other, an engineer boasted about the bridges and dams he had built…and so on. Finally everyone turned towards a lady in the group, a teacher by profession, and they asked her, teacher, teacher, what do you make? This rather modest woman then turned to them and smilingly replied, that she made engineers who made bridges and dams, she made lawyers who fought difficult cases, she made directors of firms who raked in so much profit and so on! There was a rather guilty and hushed silence in the room as all those who had boasted about themselves realised that this humble and demure lady was the greatest of them all! She had made all of them!
It is therefore, very important to understand and value and cherish the qualities of the ideal teacher! We need to build respect for our teachers as in the times when we had the Guru-Shishya tradition in India, and Eklavya didn’t hesitate in giving his thumb as Guru-Dakshina ( well I don’t mean that you give your thumb to your favourite teacher, all I suggest is that you give your respect and tribute to the teacher who is building you!)
Happy Teacher’s Day!

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