Teachers: Now and Then
Today is Teachers’ day, which is celebrated in India on the occasion of the birthday of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, who was the first Vice President of India.
Some unknown person made this quote which explains what the teaching profession is all about :
“Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions.”
I cannot write small posts so bear with me I, being a present generation person have seen good as well as bad teachers. I can only guess how the previous generation teachers were. I owe my deep interest in Physics to my physics teacher who made me realize how interesting Physics/Science is. I dedicate this post to him. He is one of the best Physics teachers our generation has seen.
The teaching materials and the resources that a teacher has access to contribute a lot to “what” is taught in the class. The present day teachers have access to Internet and all kinds of information databases which the previous generation teachers did not have. All they had access to, was a library (school or public). But today, to teach a lesson on Kepler’s laws of planetary systems, teachers can even refer to an online edition of the original book authored by Kepler from some library in Europe (I am just giving an example here). With such an ease of availability, cannot the information that a teacher provides be much more accurate and informative than those of the yesteryear’s? They can, if they are committed to and interested in what they are teaching. These days, teachers can show videos or movies to explain certain things like our teacher showed us a video of Volcano to explain what happens when a Volcano erupts. This was not possible in those days. They just had books to read and to explain. I wrote a small sketch to give an example of this information overload happening these days. This is my first sketch after these many years.. I used to draw a lot of such sketches when I was young.. I know it is not that great but I will improve with few more I guess
As a profession
We must not forget that teaching is a “profession”. People teach in order to earn bread and butter for themselves and their family. But is it just a profession? A teacher is a very important element in shaping a child’s future. Some people teach because they like teaching or they like to be with children and are dedicated towards their profession. But there are some people who teach just to make money. Though we find both kinds of people in either generation, the concentration of people who teach in order to make money is increasing these days. Many people teach just for the sake of it and this is reason in the declining standards of teaching. Also, the salary given to teachers is very less when you compare it with the salary of other professions. Hence, not many proficient people take up the teaching profession. Some people who fail to get a decent job end up teaching. But in the olden days, teaching profession used to be one of the decently paid jobs and hence used to draw a lot of intellectual people towards it.
Introduction of tuition is one of the worst things that could happen to this generation. Even a nursery kid goes to tuition in order to complete her homework or to prepare for exam. Is it not a shameful thing to happen? What are schools for? In the previous generation, tuitions were for dumb people, who were not proficient enough to understand in school and would end up failing in exams. But in this generation, it has become a fashion statement. The same person teaches well when you take tuitions under him/her but simply does not teach well at school/college. Even the parents are kind of responsible for this since they do not have time to help their child in finishing homework. Children hardly find time to enjoy or play, since there is hardly any time left after school and tuition. In those days, teacher used to give notes and make sure students learnt what he/she was teaching before proceeding. These days, some teachers are just concerned with completing the “portions” for the exam/test and are least bothered about the students. They dont care whether the students understood anything or not.
The teaching system also has a lot of effect on the way the teachers teach today. In the earlier days, there were less number of colleges, less number of teachers and students. There was less competition but these days the world is very competitive. Hence the teaching system is also quite competitive with plenty of subjects to study and a whole lot of exams and tests for students. It is difficult to teach since technology keeps advancing day by day. The courses keep getting outdated and have to be changed often. E.g: In Computer Science, a person had learnt COBOL when he was a student and later took teaching as a profession. After 2 years of teaching COBOL, nobody uses COBOL anymore and now the school introduces a new course on C++ instead. This teacher has to himself learn C++ first in order to continue teaching, which never used to happen in those days. So these days the teachers must keep updating themselves far more rapidly than those days. If the teacher is not quick enough in learning, students often are heard saying – “My teacher her/himself does not know what she/he is teaching”. That happens because she/he is not teaching what she/he learnt in her school/college.
In short, irrespective of the generation, this is how a teacher should be –
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – by William Arthur Ward
“Don’t try to fix the students, fix ourselves first. The good teacher makes the poor student good and the good student superior. When our students fail, we, as teachers, too, have failed.” – by Marva Collins
Please Note: This post is based on my personal experiences and observations and in no way, is about teachers in general or refers to any particular teacher, living or dead.
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton are Vipul, Rajalakshmi, Dhiman, Ranee, , , Indian Pundit, Sojo, Aneet, Pramathesh, Aativas, Sid, Pra, Ajinkya, Lakshmi, Govind, Shilpa, Bharathi, Shankar, Mytuppence, Azad, Pawan, Pankaja, Saimanohar, Guria, Shruti, Vishnu, Nasrajan and Richa. Click on their respective names to read their posts on Teachers : Aaj Kal. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.