It is part of the duty of a teacher to impart knowledge to the student so that he may have a job when the time comes, and may also, perhaps, help to bring about a better social structure. The student must be prepared to face life. Has the teacher no greater significance? ‘He can be an example. By his conduct, attitude and outlook, he can influence and inspire the student.’
Is it the function of a teacher to be an example to the student? Are there not enough examples already, heroes, leaders, without adding another to the long list? If the teacher becomes an example, does not that very example mould and twist the life of the student, and are you not then encouraging the everlasting conflict between what he is and what he should be?
‘A teacher must guide the student towards a nobler life.’ To guide, you must know; but do you? What do you know? You know only what you have learnt through your prejudices, which is your conditioning as a Hindu, a Christian, or a communist; and this form of guidance only leads to greater misery and bloodshed, as is being seen throughout the world. Is it not the function of a teacher to help the student to free himself intelligently from all these influences so that he will be able to meet life fully without fear, without aggressive discontent? ‘But if the teacher is not to be either an inspirer, an example, or a guide, then what is his true function?’ You were the teacher and he was the pupil; you influenced and moulded him in your own image.
But if you cease to act upon him, then he becomes important in himself, which means that you have to understand him and not demand that he should understand your ideals which are phoney anyway. Then you have to deal with ‘what is’ and not with ‘what should be’.