On the occasion of Teacher’s Day, I bow my head in deep reverence to all my Gurus. My salutations also to late Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, on his birth anniversary. The word ‘teacher’ has numerous connotations which stand true to this day.
Apart from being the giver of knowledge or a person who merely teaches or guides the shishyas, he or she epitomises the values that a student wishes to imbibe, whose wisdom is never in question, a wall of strength, and above all, a sculptor whose actions, thoughts and words mould a student.
A guru in the true sense is one whose teachings lend a definite culture and set of values to the student or shishya.
An ideal teacher’s teachings encompass all facets of life and imparts the universal principles, underlying all religions that are the very fabric of our existence.
The Guru-Shishya relationship equals total devotion, awe and respect in most people’s lexicon. This has been the most enduring of all relationships and continues to reign supreme, albeit with certain changes.
On this day, I fondly remember with reverence all my teachers who have contributed to my professional and personal achievements. I would like to particularly remember, two of my teachers, whose influence made an impact on my thinking and carved a career in teaching as my future. One of them was the teacher who taught Hindi as a second language.
Second language has always been a challenge for the first generation learners of a new language.
My teacher’s charismatic and magnetic personality, besides her innovative teaching abilities made her my mentor. What I learnt from her were invaluable lessons of tolerance, while dealing with slow and disinterested learners. Besides her knowledge on the subject and her subtle sense of humour made her classes lively. My first lessons on developing a positive mental attitude were imbibed from her. My science teacher’s pragmatic approach and methods of activity based learning, lent a novelty to the subject.
In an era, where electronic media and technology based teaching were non-existent, her endeavour to reinforce the concepts in her own creative way, enhanced my interest in science, which resulted in my pursuit of science as a special subject. Though the sanctity of the relationship between a teacher and a student has been maintained, the modern era has brought a few changes.
In the bygone era, the teacher was regarded as an infallible repository of knowledge and students never questioned the veracity of her explanations.
But today, the trappings of the modern world like the internet and the iPad have opened up wide vistas for the students to explore on their own and augment their knowledge, thus making the role of a teacher to be that of a facilitator rather than an agent of knowledge.
The vicissitudes of life often lead students to turn to their teacher for moral support, which in turns fosters a deep bond that borders on friendship. This is something the students of the bygone era would not have experienced.
The word ‘teacher’ continues to evoke a sense of awe and respect among students, but it is not tinged with fear unlike in the olden days where the word would conjure up images of a grim-faced person wielding a stick in hand. In the present era, the teacher-student relationship is much more personal.
The modern teaching community needs to blend the time-tested approaches of teaching of the past, while preparing to embrace the modern technology driven tools that has revolutionised classroom learning. The current scenario envisages a two-way learning process between the teachers and the taught unlike the unidirectional methods of the past.
As an educator, having spent three decades in this great activity at various levels, I must state that, mentoring young citizens of a nation such as ours is probably the most joyous and satisfying journey of my life.
I hope to give back something to the world, that has bestowed upon me this honourable profession of moulding young minds.
(The author is the Principal of Sishu Griha Montessori and High School, Bangalore)