The term ‘leader’ is defined as the person who leads or commands a group or organization. A teacher is a leader who leads the class on a mission of gaining knowledge beyond the classroom. As a leader, a teacher demonstrates passion. He/she illustrates just how much it means to follow dreams, to visualize a better future, to live life to its fullest and to enjoy the daily adventures. That dedication is contagious and encourages others to do the same.
When teachers take it upon themselves to trail a pursuit with their inherent passion, they unearth a treasure of endless possibilities and achievements.
Teachers are bestowed with strength of determination and integrity of emotional attachment. They are decisive, gritty, observant and perceptive. When they choose to flaunt their talents, magic happens.
I was 23 years old, a post graduate in history, when I rejected the lucrative prospects of new corporatizing India and the enchantment of the civil services in the 1980’s.
What charmed me was the idea of stimulating young minds, excited about knowledge. I became a teacher. I turn 57 this year, a year away from my retirement. I want to share the lived meaning of the choice I had made and what it means in the present context.
A teacher can help make the decisions, set the goals, participate in the causes – in short create a loyalty that makes the school a family. This type of commitment makes a teacher a valuable employee, and it instills a sense of being a part of something bigger.
This definition looks meaningful on the surface but the reality is much more layered and complex in the present scenario .The zeal with which I had entered this profession does not infect young minds anymore. Teaching is not the primary option students want to exercise in 2017.With this statement , I want to highlight why teachers’ cannot aspire to become leaders in the present Indian milieu.
While the situation of schools in urban areas is better in terms of infrastructure, the system is on the brink of collapse in state- run government schools in rural areas. Teacher absenteeism is rampant and the student teacher ratio remains awry.
In cities, the effect of indifference in school education is visible in several ways. Over-crowding in class, saturated minds burdened with a vast syllabus, digital distractions and boring chalk and talk method teaching do not excite young minds, seduced by the Internet, smart phone etc.
Parental pressure, peer pressure, cumbersome coaching institutes have added to the woes of the students. The teachers are dealing with cynical minds who have lost faith not only in the system of education but also in educators as well.
The Latin word ‘Educare’ means to draw out. A good educator’s mission is to draw out the best from learners yet teachers receive flak for many reasons. Some teachers are a part of the coaching mafia, to augment their income. Some teachers are not qualified enough. Some may not be teaching the subject in an engaging manner while some may be forced by the school management to teach a subject the teacher is not well versed in. In such a scenario who is leading whom?
Quality teaching exists, inspite of the system, not because of it. There are committed school teachers in this chaotic system who do make a difference despite all odds.
Recently the Chief Justice of India cried for the missing judges in the courts. Nobody will shed tears for the missing school teachers. As long as teaching remains the last option among the youth in this present day market driven society, teachers cannot make any impact leave alone transform the society.
The central Government, the secondary school education and various school boards should look into the malaise in the school system, check and restore prestige of the pedagogy. As a teacher, I feel we should move away from tokenism, of ritualized demonstration of affection on a certain day of the year but do something concrete. Resources, rewards, improved working conditions along with a better pay package should be ensured to make teaching a respectable vocation not as a last option, when all options fails.
To conclude, I would like to quote favourite lines from Guru dev Rabindranath Tagore’s poem-
“Where the mind is without fear
And the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Into that heaven of freedom, My father, let my country awake!"