… out here, is to be predictable, 😀 and do an anticipated write on an honest-to-goodness-you’d-expect-me to-write day. When you’re finished reeling from that piece of hyphenated nonsense, you’d have figured out where you are, and where I’m still not. At. (Yes yes yes, I’ve heard that yada yada yada thingy about ending sentences with a preposition, but that doesn’t stop me from stretching that to acceptable vs unacceptable forms of language usage, you might have heard of. There. I tell ya, there is something immensely satisfying about thumbing one’s rather busybody nose at things. Sigh.)
So yes, we come to the anticipated part. A blog on teachers, teaching, learners, learning, on 5 September, each year, since we recognized the ultimate teacher in Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, statesman and scholar, and an ideal to live up to. (Dang! that preposition hands over the abyss again!)
It’s expected, yes. (Do take a look at the years paraded at the end of this blog. If you manage to wade through this riff raff of words. Better yet, hit Ctrl+End, and look at them years, 2010 – 2015 -no I don’t expect you to read anything more than the hatke blog titles – yet another predictable feature of this space 😛 ) I missed last year. So I’ve got to make up two years’ worth.
We’ve covered the anticipated, expected, the “day”, or rather the reason for it, and now to the honest-to-goodness part. I’ve been pretty much confessional in the 2015 wala post. I need to go a step beyond with this one. Something weighs heavy on this heart, and it needs sharing, to ease it. Or maybe, in the long run, add to it. It shall come, as it is meant to.
Teaching is a vocation. Duh. A noble profession. Double duh. A selfless service to humanity. Duh duh…cough cough cough. It’s been said enough times, that saying it anymore takes everything away from even the etymology of them words. When is the world going to look at teaching, “teaching”, if so, as a profession also? If indeed one looks at the entire idea of having “professional”qualification, and having to take endless tests at different levels to “qualify” to “teach”, then it also follows that one should try to look at the whole situation with the objectivity of other professions.
Yes, there is more of heart here, perhaps, and a delicacy to the process and progress both organic and linear, in teaching, since we deal in live material, but doesn’t that, in turn make the entire exercise more relevant, and therefore enforce the need to be more professional? Yes, you are now going to tell me about Doctors, Nurses, the Services, the …. do, please continue to enlighten me. Of the entire list you bring in, I hope you realize that “Teachers” are perhaps the most over-worked, and least recognized. Except of course, on Teachers’ Day. And I assure you, one is deeply thankful for it. I kid you not. I am. And I am not being sarcastic. I look forward to this day, because that is when the naughtiest child, as always, ups the most studious, in voicing them wishes. Every danged year. Trust me. 🙂 And I love that. Oopsie. I digress. This post isn’t about me, it is about what is expected.
When you work with live material, such as young hearts, young minds, passions unbridled, potential yet to discover, bushels hiding shining lights, can one even imagine the pressure brought to bear on this one individual, in a class of 30 +? I’m being Utopian here, for most classes in India, except for the exclusive schools, have 45+. I actually have a class this year with 60+. Forget the numbers though. In a class of even 10 children, this one individual in to monitor, administer, counsel, guide, grade, “discipline”, instruct, be a role model, recognizing each individual student’s unique set of gifts, burrowing and digging deep to discover it early enough in the teaching year and fan the gleaming embers to a fire by the end. What usually happens is that the teacher’s tale is on fire. I’ve been there. It’s a similar story in many places. (No, tale is spelt correctly 😛 )
And yet this individual soldiers on. There is this verse, so called by Henry Van Dyke, that is fished out at will each year to celebrate a true teacher. It goes like this:
The Unknown Teacher -Henry Van Dyke (1852 – 1933)
I sing the praise of the Unknown Teacher.
Great generals wins campaigns, but it is the unknown soldier who wins the war.
Famous educators plan new system of pedagogues, but it is the
Unknown Teacher who delivers and guides the young.
He lives in obscurity and contents with hardship. For him no trumpets blare, no chariots wait, no golden decorations are decreed.
He keeps the watch along the border of darkness and leads the attack on the trenches of ignorance and folly.
Patient in his duty. He strives to conquer the evil powers which are the enemies of youth. He awakes sleeping spirits.
He quicken the indolent, encourages the eager and steadies the unstable.
He communicates his own joy in learning and shares with boys and girls the best treasures of his mind.
He lights many candles which in later years will shines back to cheer him. This is his reward.
Knowledge may be gained from books, but the love of knowledge is transmitted only by personal contact.
No one has deserved better of Republic than the Unknown Teacher, No one is more worthy to be enrolled in a democratic aristocracy, ” King of himself and servant of mankind ”
We don’t have these “unknown” teachers much these days. In the times of social networking, the slowly crumbling walls of convention and the easeful way that both learners and teachers interact outside and inside the classrooms, thankfully this unknown soldier now has a platoon from within the peer group as well as from amongst the live culture she deals with. I sound like a broken record, I know, but I must say it – I know, I’ve been there too! 😛 With great crumbling of walls comes great glasnost, which in turn brings freshness of the spirit, but also blurs lines and either side, teacher and learner, overstep boundaries. Happens all the time. Some are “too friendly” or so they say, some are “too lenient”, or so they say. And those who have always been consistent, unchanging, get short changed. This is because change is the reason for progress. And change is needed. The acceptance and openness that change brings is what changes us for the better. Understanding this is perhaps the most difficult thing.
And finally, there has always been this thing that teachers have been, are and will always be a “partial” people. Partial to the studious, partial to the courteous, respectful of learners, the vocal, in terms of healthy interaction, maybe partial to those who speak, write, “behave” well. And once you are seen to prove this as true through your behaviour, as understood by a series of gaffes, misuderstandings, these come to stay and you get labelled. Duh. That’s one blemish that all the bleach in the world will not remove. No use saying, like Lady Macbeth, “out damned spot” – you have already become Lady Macbeth, who murdered the aspirations and dreams of some young ‘un, in the hope of seating your favourite as the chosen one. But then, that’s the thing about life too. It doesn’t stop, for either party. It goes on… maybe a bit more disillusioned by life, maybe, maybe, but nothing stops that relentless ticking onwards, no? 🙂 I’d be the first to admit that yes, such people do exist, and enough readers here would identify with it. However, there is this small detail of generalization, and most often we tend to throw the baby with the bathwater, in a manner of speaking.
So to all of you soldiers, in this game, The Game of Teaching, remember, if you get that Valar Morghulis, your response is, D.U.H. … Valar Dohaeris . That’s what is expected. That All men, read teachers, must serve, even at the cost of the inevitability of not being able to live.
But you know what? I’ve this anagram, deeply personal, that a friend had given as a life saving strategy. FTS. I love being where I am, profession-wise, and if I had to go over the years and be asked what I’d change, I’d still opt to be where I am. That, by itself, tells you, that learning, which is a part of teaching, and teaching itself, is all of the above, and some, and pretty much something I’d want to do again. Amen, is all I’d say. 🙂
That said, let me wish each member of the profession, the support staff, mentors, coaches, life gurus, every person who has touched your life in some way and helped you learn some danged lesson in life by commission or omission, a fruitful day 🙂 May you all touch more lives with the goodness of your being. May your learning never cease. May those who learn with you be guided by you onto paths that call to their hearts. May you instigate curiosity, temper their souls with a sense of adventure, shake the stupor out of their limbs, and make them want to scale their own aspirations with a zeal they never knew they had. Just show them that they can do it. They will. Then. That, you can be sure of! (yippeee, 1500+words, and a preposition to finish it off! 😛 )
5 September, 2017
Earlier posts on Teachers’ Day. Click on the year to be transported therewards 😀
P.S. References to GoT’s Valar Morghulis and Valar Dohaeris are universal in nature, and to be seen as a deliberate attempt to spice up a rather dreary blog. Thank you, if only you read it to pooh pooh it 😀