It is a herculean task indeed to write about the system you are a product of. I tried myself to persuade myself to pen down my personal thoughts for years and today is the first day, at last I am taking the plunge. The gods might get angry as I am going to swim against the current.
In education, they say, there are four important elements that are Teacher, student, syllabi and school (system of education). At first I will share my views about the teacher. In the olden days, teachers were considered the torch bearers of the nation. Those days are faded and now they are considered as managers, facilitators and so on. There used to be the days when teachers’ premium responsibility was to be a role model and we, the generation of early 80s to late 90s, still nourish the memories of such shining characters. Albeit, nowadays, teachers are behaving like mere traders who consider their students mere consumers or customers and we all know traders worry about their profits rather than prophets.
I still remember my teachers at a government school. They used to take zero periods and all students were bound to attend these classes, which were not part of the official timetables. Such classes were an extra burden on teachers; nonetheless, they willingly used to take such classes for the sole benefit of their pupils. High school students of my generation, who mostly studied at government schools, had many such teachers. One of my colleagues usually tells many stories of his teachers who used to teach him extra classes at his home without taking any financial benefits.
I still remember, our high school teachers who used to teach students just a night before the final board exams. They used to teach the students for the whole night and students used to come back after the exam to discuss the answers they had written in the exam. One of my teachers, when I had almost left my studies for I had joined an institute as a teacher, came to me and forcefully made me study to be prepared for the final university exam. Today, I am able to do what I am doing only because of such teachers.
Such teachers can be found even today. They are definitely there but unfortunately they were overshadowed by the McDonald system we have implemented in our schools especially. I believe all my class fellows still remember names of their primary schoolteachers.
Why do we still have them in our minds? Why are we not able to get rid of their memories and selfless attitude?
The answer is simple because they were our teachers then and they are teaching us now in a way. They did not let us go away; they are guiding us even today. They taught us in the classrooms and they are teaching us now in our lives how to solve the riddles of life. Teachers don’t leave their students. If they leave you, they are not teachers. If you forget your teachers, you have never been their students at all. And if teachers forget you, means they were pseuds.
The crux of the matter is we are lacking such personalities in our schools at present and as a result we are not producing good human beings for our society. Rather, we are producing hollow men as T. S. Eliot rightly called us.
Honestly, we need to question our attitude towards our teachers. What are our intentions? What do we want to have for our future generation? Bondmen or Masters?
Take care of your teachers; they will take care of the entire society. How can we have such teachers? The answer is simple. Find learned people who have passion to teach. Give them liberty to teach to reach certain prescribed objectives. Take care of their bellies so that they can take care of the future brains of the society. Last but not least, give them the due respect, you will be respected in the world.
You cannot have Churchill, if you don’t have Mr. Somervell.
I give the example of a teacher of a society that we feel proud of following (by the way, their own system is on ventilator now). Islamic educational history, if you like to know, is surfeit of such teachers.
The writer is an educationist and teaches at a public sector university in Oman.