It was the class of 2007. I vividly remember the picture of a tall, lean man over-powering the class of around 60, not only with his loud and clear voice but also with a teaching technique that got us wide-eyed.
It was a pleasant surprise to learn politics with the help of Bob Dylan songs played on an old tape-recorder. Such was the genius of Sudhakar Sir from Wilson College, Mumbai that we always had something interesting to learn in every lecture he conducted. That was the day I had my first brush with a class where a simple form of technology could be used in such an innovative way.
I was fortunate enough, to further meet Cynthia Ma’am from Pushpanjali college, Vasai. I realised what being a teacher truly meant, and she always motivated me to the core with her well-organised, detailed and creative teaching. She explicitly portrayed true love for her profession and her role as a teacher.Had I not met Satish Sir, my literature professor, I would never have realised how much I loved literature. I can never forget our lengthy, mentally-stimulating discussions on the intricacies of life which needed nothing more than a nudge from a line picked out of Burnt Norton or the incomplete ending of Calcutta Chromosomes. Learning was at its best during these interactions and thanks to Sir, I discovered that I could write too.
These teachers have hugely impacted my life, not only as a student but also as a teacher and most importantly, as a human being. I smile when I think about how those small words of inspiration coming from them, served to majorly impact my life’s important decisions. What these teachers have in common is not only their genius but also their passion and love for teaching, which automatically inculcates in them the qualities of an ideal teacher. I am sure you all must have had the fortune of being blessed by at least one such impactful teacher in your student days.
On this occasion of Teachers’ Day, I dedicate this article to all those wonderful souls that have affected the life of many students around the world. I have constantly wondered and tried to note down the qualities that go behind the making of a great teacher. Let me tell you that it’s no science! You don’t need to be a gutsy John Keating from ‘Dead Poets Society’ urging the students to rip off their book pages. But you do need certain qualities that make you stand apart from the usual image of a traditional and stern teacher. Let me note down three main qualities that I have observed in these teachers.
1. Love for students – If you look at the situation today, the maxim ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ no longer holds true. With the rising cases of teacher arrests for imparting corporal punishment, I can vouch for one thing – Teaching is only meant for you if you genuinely love kids and can respect them, irrespective of their age. I have always seen my motivating teachers respect students and treat them as adults. Their friendly nature makes them easily approachable. Students don’t mind staying in contact with them even long after they pass out and leave the institution.
2. Quest for knowledge – Rabindranath Tagore has compared a teacher with a burning lamp that ignites other lamps. Unless teachers ignite themselves with knowledge first, they can never ignite other minds. They have to constantly keep themselves abreast with knowledge. I have to specifically mention Cynthia Ma’am here, who always makes it a point to learn various online courses for professional development and also makes all her students aware of it. It’s only because of her that I became aware of MOOC ( Massive Open Online Course) and could successfully complete one. Sudhakar Sir, on the other hand was jocularly termed as a ‘Human Encyclopedia’ shooting us with interesting titbits of information, every once in a while during his lectures and Satish Sir can discuss at lengths about literature. It’s only because of them, I could grasp the importance of going beyond the text while teaching. Teachers like them prove W.B.Yeats correct, when he opines that, “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”
3. Following Teacher’s Ethics – It’s only more than obvious now that the teaching profession is getting a bad name due to some of the miscreants with doubtful intentions. Hence, a teacher necessarily has to be a person with powerful integrity who wins the trust of students as well as parents. Only then can he/she rightly teach values to the students. I have always found my teachers to be impartial, upright and encouraging, thus constantly inspiring me to adopt the same in my personality. This makes the honesty of a quote ring loud in my mind, “As a general rule, teachers teach more by what they are, than by what they say.”
Given today’s rat race, teachers have to struggle hard to fit in. Teaching has strongly evolved today with the new generation getting increasingly smarter. So, as John Dewey says, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” We have to be constantly on our toes, trying to catch up with the fast paced young minds. The profession has only become more demanding. But what has not changed is the nobility of this profession. Teaching was, is and always will be noble. If we as teachers stand true to our hearts and profession, we will stand tall against the tests of time and have many professions thanking us for creating them. We’ll have many likes of Newtons and Shakespeares thanking us for that little prod we gave them which made them jump to the skies, in Frost’s words.
I will conclusively commemorate Teachers’ Day with a quote from a heart-touching story by an acclaimed Marathi author ‘Pu.La. Deshpande’, titled ‘Mala Dhadawnare Shikshak’ (Teachers who moulded my personality), where he mentions various teachers who worked for the overall development of their students in spite of earning a meagre salary. He states that, “When I remember my teachers, I revisit my school days as a student and feel extremely grateful for them.” I have been lucky enough to encounter many teachers as such in my life and it’s only because of them I too want to be a student again. ‘Happy Teachers’ Day’ to all the amazing teachers in the world, influencing minds for eternity.
Tripti Saun is an English and Social Studies teacher. She has completed her Masters in English literature. She loves to read and write. She also has a very interesting edublog of her own at http://theignitinglamp.wordpress.com/
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