If I asked you a question “Who is a good teacher” the answers I get will vary from idealistic expressions like “someone who makes a difference in the lives of children” to to “ones who teach the world”.
To get clarity for myself I did a small exercise during my travel to 17 Indian cities of in the past 2 months as part of the Horlicks Wizkids event. I made it a point to visit schools, to every principal I met I asked them a question – “How many good teachers do you have in your school?” I got varied responses – very few, not many, difficult to say, infact in one school a principal believed that he did not have a single good teacher apart from himself!
I followed up this question with my next one “Who according to you is a good teacher?” Most of the responses were now real, not like the idealistic one I thought that I would get. A good teacher according to most principals is one who
– is meticulous, dedicated and completes academic portions on time
– ensure that the children get good marks
– punctual, regular and is willing to take up responsibilities beyond teaching
I tried looking at a teachers job closely and found it very boring. Here is one real example to clarify my point. A teacher in Kolkata who teaches physics to about 300 high school students told me that her school has weekly tests, monthly tests, 2 terminal exams and 1 final exam. Considering that she evaluates 30 test and exams every year spending 10 minutes per paper. She spends approximately 1500 hours each year on evaluation, 2 months of her life every year!
“Who is a good teacher?” I asked my friend and mentor Dilip Patel, he has his own way of giving answers and came up with an ancient Indian understanding that describes the various levels of teachers.
Adhyapak – one who gives information
Upadhyay – one who uses information and converts it to knowledge
Acharya – one who teaches skills
Pandit – one who gives insight, a deeper meaning understating
Drishta – one who has foresight and enables us to see things from a future perspective
Guru – one who gives wisdom
Well it may sound idealistic on my part but I guess if we have to elevate the level of our teachers we need to elevate the levels of our expectations from them. I am referring to the few dedicated souls who teach in your school, give them a bigger role to play in the lives of children rather than just decimate information to get grades. The issues which children face in today’s world are very difficult, information is not enough to handle them. What is required is wisdom, and what your school requires is Guru’s not Adhyapak’s.
September 5th is Teachers Day and September 21st is World Gratitude Day, what better month to identify and elevate the moral of your teachers. Remember you do not need all but just one Guru in each school!