When I started working in education domain, I used to wonder why there are no Maria Montessori, no Thorndike, and no Piaget ever coming from India. With the passage of time, I came across Gijubhai Badheka and then other stars who have been contributing in small pockets across the country.
If a child wants to become a scientist or a cricketer or an actor or a politician, he has someone to look up to. He can create an idea of the personality he wants to adopt and get influenced by.
What if I want to become a teacher?
How do I visualize? People will start mentioning Feynman or Dr S. Radhakrishnan or other leaders in the field but how many children have seen their work as teachers vis-à-vis other professions.
How often have you seen a teacher being interviewed on National television? How often do you come across an article on a teacher in a newspaper?
I see three major challenges due to which children are not adequately motivated about teaching as a profession:
Instruction is good for a child; but example is worth more. – Alexander Dumas
- Lack of focus of society on teaching as a career
There is a lot of talks about teaching as a job or role but not as a profession. In fact, most of such discussions are clouded by the assumption that less salary is an obstacle in attracting good teachers. Although there is no doubt those teachers should be paid adequately but so should be people in all professions. And as proven by many committed people and even research, salary is not the only variable which can get good teachers on board. Better qualified, better scores and better degrees will be fetched with better salaries but not necessarily the most motivated teachers.
- Abstraction caused due to sacred touch to the profession.
Anything which is rendered as sacred is mostly never touched by the masses and ceases to progress. Sadly, teaching was also defeated by the similar fate of being too scared. The metaphor of the teacher being as god and teaching a divine process, I think has done more evil than good for the teachers. It is so sacred that no one talks about it with such details as they would have spoken about any other profession. All it gets is some eulogy and praises owing to its’ divine morality involved, which obviously has failed to motivate many students across.
- Lack of impetus on quality aspects of a good teacher
With the notion that teachers are divine, they are mostly spoken about their commitment to the field or their love for children; qualities which are mostly abstract and largely qualitative. Sacred is similar and boring for children, and it is an archetype which misses the flavour of personalized styles and crafts which has motivated generations. Imagine an article about brush strokes of Van Gogh or voice modalities of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.
The irony is, an artist becomes virtuous with years of deliberate practice, a doctor an expert but a teacher is more or less usually seen only as a more experienced teacher. Unfortunately, the two closets of good teacher and not so good teachers have not been successful in motivating students to become one. It is high time we talk about individual genius good teachers have brought to their work and focus on excellence.
I think there is a need to bring out teaching as a profession which has its roots in antiquity but also cherishes the new age developments in the field.
Unfortunately, we do not see our teachers either as scientists or as artists; we see them as workers- sitting high on the moral pedestal. The real value is not delivered through obeisance to teachers but when children want to become one.
Till such time, we are not able to inspire a young generation about teaching as a profession; we will not be able to supplement this space with good teachers. It is not an interim solution but an investment in the field which will have its yield in time to come.
As a navigator to ascertain if we are on the right track, if we are able to draw a sketch of a good teacher or imagine one with closed eyes, we can be expecting more and more students to someday think of becoming teachers. If we all see our teachers caricatures- blackboard, chalks, ruler etc., we continue working.
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