Generally speaking, teachers are respectable people, and in India, we are trained to look at them as some sort of demi-gods (with 33 crores (330 million) Hindu gods and counting… this doesn’t seem to be a great pedestal to place them on, and yet, they are placed high above normal people like you and me.)
“Guru Gobind dou khade, kake laagoon paye?
Balihaari Guru aapne, Gobind diyo bataye!”
Translation: Teacher and God both stood in front of me and I wondered, whose feet should I touch first. I am grateful to you, my teacher, because you showed me the path to God.
(Read more of Kabir’s Couplets and their translations here.)
Like everyone else, I’ve had my share of cool and not-so-cool teachers. While I’ve been educated in private schools, my wife has studied in many different government schools, and so we hold diametrically opposite views on the importance of teachers. While I always think that having a teacher helps, she is of the opinion that when students don’t have teachers, they are usually enterprising enough to find a way out to learn.
Serious stuff aside, let me tell you about what makes teachers uncool!
THE UNCOOL TEACHERS – 5 CHARACTERISTICS!
Teacher-absenteesim is a terrible often contagious disease that afflicts some teachers of Indian government schools – I personally know a couple of teachers who go to work and put proxy attendance, then stay home rest of the week. All because they are wives of highly-placed officers, or because they want the students to turn up at their houses for private tuitions that give nose-bleeds to parents. Totally uncool; completely immoral and unethical…but it happens. Check out your ever-extending family’s periphery and you may find one or two such ones sticking around there.
We all have experienced this and we’ve mostly been on the wrong side. Favoritism a very common affliction among teachers, and a natural one too. It establishes that your teacher is a human and not a droid – and trust me, for the teacher’s favorites, this IS the cool stuff about them.
Corrective Feedback especially of the corporal punishment kind, which once was fondly remembered by our dads and granddads as murga banana or bench per khade hona (standing on the last bench in the classroom), and which is now in news for having turned into an outlet of anger for sadistic teachers. They all belong in the 9th ring of Dante’s hell…before you ask, I’ve just finished Dan Brown’s Inferno, and can now be considered a mini-authority on Dante’s works and his love affair with Beatrice.
For teachers, this is an occupational hazard. I am sure that when they first become teachers, they all have soft, melodious voices; but after years of screaming on errant pupils, some of them begin to sound like a banshee (chudail) who has just missed her train to hell.)
Some teachers, who don’t keep pace with the ever-expanding universe of knowledge become defensive when faced with a question that falls beyond the scope of the staple diet they provide to the students. Their defense usually begins with a stern-look followed by the tendency to punish the querier in one way or the other. Such teachers are supremely uncool.
and to those who don’t fall in any of the above categories, or in other words…
TO THE COOL TEACHERS of INDIA and the WORLD:
A VERY HAPPY TEACHER’s DAY!
(On September 5th, India celebrates the Birthday of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975), a distinguished scholar who was also the second President of Independent India, as Teacher’s Day.)