Do We Still Need to Celebrate Teacher’s Day?

In India, we celebrate September 5th as Teachers’ Day. The day also commemorates birthday of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, our first Vice President of India, and second President of India. Radhakrishnan believed that ‘teachers should be the best minds in the country’, a philosophy I for one, would have been extremely grateful to accept, had it been still a truth today.  But things have changed since then.

Who Are Teachers Today

The teachers I know personally and have met over the years, and interacted with socially, I have come across one single trait, not many of them ever wanted to be a teacher. They are simply in this profession because they didn’t have anything better to do, any better job options were not available to them, and they made do with the first opportunity they got to earn a decent salary. Women I know, who are teachers, and there is quite a few of them, are in this profession for a different reason. They wanted to work only the hours their children are out of the homes, and be around them once they are back. Jobs in corporate sector are unlikely to cater to this requirement. Hence they all went for a certification in Education and/or Teacher’s Training, and became teachers.

Teachers and Children

My Teachers Never Impressed Me

It has always been a worrisome thought for me that I was never impressed with my teachers, not in school, nor in college. It amazed me how I could always look at them as human beings in all their frailties, than someone on a higher platform. In these days, if I have to ever talk of a teacher I was most impressed with, I will not be able to name even one. My teachers never impressed me.  Yes, they taught, assigned submissions, took exams, I did complied with everything too. But even as a child I got the impression that they are doing their jobs, and I am doing mine; and the impression stuck. Nope, I didn’t feel inspired. Not even once. And on hindsight, I really don’t think they were ‘the best minds in the country’ either.

Looking At a Teacher from a Parental Perspective

My daughter was only 8-years-old, when her teacher has told her that she is in the list of School Prefects, when she was not. It was the first time I had to tell her, yes, teachers lie. They are also as human as you and me, and not someone to follow blindly. It broke her heart and it broke mine to say that.  

A friend of mine, who was one of the few people I have seen who was truly interested in children and their welfare, had once confided in me that one should never become a teacher if one do not have a love for children, and if one is not oriented towards welfare of the children. I totally agree. We often pick up a profession where we can get a job easily, but we can only excel in it if we have a passion for the job. Not all teachers like children, or have a passion for teaching. For a whole lot of them, it’s just another job. That too is the one, which pays almost pittance. Not that I blame them. We need to do everything we can to survive, I get that. But as a parent that makes me sceptical. How can I handover my child’s welfare to someone, who is not sensitive to her needs, or to an institution which is filled with such human beings, for whom my child is just a number, a small piece in the whole system, and whose welfare need not be their priority?

As a parent I realise how my child idolized her teachers when she was younger, and how the image crashed on hard reality as she turned into a teenager. These children no longer believe in their teachers, they are faded and jaded so far as their teachers are concerned. And this is because none of their teachers have been able to create a favourable impression in their mind. Yes, teachers are no longer revered, or respected even.

One has to earn the respect, and not demand it. A teacher has to go beyond his syllabus and assignments to bond with the children, to learn and relearn what language children talk these days, what gadgets they use and why, and what morals they value. Yes exactly the same way as we parents try to understand them. If they miss all that, it’s highly likely that even our children will remain unimpressed, uninspired, and mistrustful of their teachers. In the circumstances, why celebrate Teachers’ Day? Why not treat it as any other profession and remove this burden of nobility thrust on them? I do think it’s time we think about it seriously, and not follow something blindly.

What do you say?


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