– Asit Mantry
Teacher plays the key role in any educational system. Education without a teacher is just like a body without a soul, skeleton without flesh and blood, a shadow without substance. As social engineers, the teachers also socialize the youngsters by their human qualities. The teacher is the yardstick by which the achievement and aspirations of the nation can be measured. It is said that the people of a country are replicas of their teachers. Teachers are the real nation-builders.
Teachers in ancient India had a distinguished position in society. In the Vedic and Post-Vedic period, the position of the teacher was second to the God. He was addressed as ‘Guru’. He commanded more respect than the King in society. The ancient Indian schools were known as Gurukulas (the family of the teacher) and the Guru was regarded as the Rishi (Sage or Acharya one who practices what he professes). In the Gurukulas both the teacher and student live together for learning. People believed that without Guru it was not possible to attain knowledge. The Guru was the guide and used to bring the light wherever there was darkness. The teacher-student relationships in Gurukulas were like parents and children.
During ancient times, teaching was considered as the highest and noble service to the society or God. Teachers in ancient India were ready to sacrifice their time, energy, and resources in educating people. They considered their work as moral and useful events. They worked with a sense of self-fulfillment and a sense of self-realization. They were expected to lead a life of Penance, free from worldly things. They had to follow the life of strict discipline, which were also prescribed for the students.
Teacher plays a vital role in the development of society and nation. In Indian history, many teachers played significant role in making the country great. Some of them are – Vashishtha, Valmiki, Bharadwaj, Agastya, Kapila, Panini, Dronacharya, Sandeepani, Chanakya and so on. Not only in India, but also at the global level, some great teachers influenced the society in many respects like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and many others, who played a vital role in creating the social and national revolutions for establishing a peaceful and prosperous society.
Moreover, the role of a teacher in the present Indian context is very pivotal for social reconstruction and nation-building. Children are the potential wealth of a nation. They are always exposed to the influence of the teacher. A teacher is not only a custodian of national values but also an architect par excellence of new values. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan rightly remarked that teacher’s place in society is of vital importance. The teacher transmits the intellectual tradition and technical skills from generation to generation and helps to keep the lamp of civilization burning.
However, it is very unfortunate that the dignity of teachers is degrading these days. Teachers, who consider teaching job as a profession, work only for a pay cheque. They work for their own sake. It is also seen that many people join the teaching profession just because of less work-load with more salary. In this way, many people have already entered the profession and occupied the position and now they try for their good, at the cost of others. Research says that the majority of the teachers entered into the teaching profession not by choice but by chance. This is a great threat to the nation. It is really painful when some teachers are found in doing unethical practices. Many such teachers are involved in private coaching centers just to make money. For them, teaching is not a service rather a profession for money-making business. Maybe there are certain reasons, but this is not a good indication for the education as well for the nation. However, some good teachers are there who are dedicated to their profession. The government has recently taken some constructive initiatives to bring some improvements in the quality of teaching and teacher-education so that the bright and committed scholars supposed to be attracted to the teaching profession.
“The former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam appropriately said that teaching is not a profession; it is a calling, a voice of moral demand that asks us to become someone we are not yet – someone different, someone better, and someone just beyond our reach. A career for teaching is not for achievement but is a gift to be achieved. The voice of vocation is not ‘out there’ but within us calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given to me at birth by God. The authentic call to teach “comes from the voice of the teacher within, the voice that calls me to honor the nature of my true self.”
An eminent philosopher and educationist, Kireet Joshi very appropriately said that a new orientation in the teachers’ training programs has become inevitable. The role of the teacher is undergoing a process of rapid change. The teacher is also expected to contribute significantly to the task of integrating education with development. He is required to become an innovator and a leading agent of change. Major changes need to be introduced in the aims, methods, and contents of programs of teacher-education. Appropriate to the new and heavy demands on the teacher, the working conditions of the teacher should be improved, and measures should be taken to raise the status of the teacher. At the same time, the teacher should be expected to set a high standard of performance and discharge of responsibilities.
(Author has Assistant Professor in School of Education, Central University of Jammu – J&K)
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