Everything that is around us steps onto the ladder of change with varying manifestations. The perils of embracing and accepting these changes observed throughout always define and represent the 'pulse of times’. The ticks of the time have been moulding the societies altogether as the aphorism of 'learning through history' resonates well.
Just wondering about the same, the exalted and highly revered profession of teaching has also been tested in the vicissitudes of time. A teacher that we imagined and saw is very different. A change in any phenomenon can be a catalyst or a slide down the regressive slumps depending upon the final form of what a change begets.
The teacher as a model of nation builder and an epitome of wisdom has seen a radical transformation when it comes to its contemporary positioning in society. Simply being said much can transpire through the meat of the debate about the status and relevance of teacher in a society. But one thing that is ominous and well delineated is the hybrid mode of teaching and the enforced or dicey nature of getting a government job. We hardly can see an urge or passion when it comes to teaching as a full time profession. A simple illustration of this can be well drawn when the comparative analysis is done vis-a-vis other professions that receive much traction in the career landscape specifically in Kashmir and generally in other parts of world as well.
Why is it like that, and how can we overcome this wedge that is deepening. Has the vice of capital crept in into this holy profession as well. How can we not compare a person whose dedication and gold standards of being a 'complete teacher' were seen in most of the phases in our life than now. Just picturise a teacher in your mind these days and what is the first word that comes up and I am afraid I can just see vividly 'scared and scarred'; is the visualisation my mind. Take any student, just a miniscule would be having a positive answer. And emotional and reverential aspect is important but facts value much higher. Sometimes radical acceptance takes us to the real feelers of the truth than the socially drawn markers that are far-fetched from the reality.
What we receive now is a content which was a spring of wisdom seasoned and laced with experiential and sustained lessons for way of life then. I hardly remember anything that has been with me when it comes to the pedagogical delivery which has given me a path of auto-didacticism which has been the beautiful phase of my life until now.
I am surprised by the common perception or in a way misperception of the fact that teacher being a figure that can be seen in a school only or some kind of a figurehead dealing in number crunching. In contrast I have learnt much about the life and the tumultuous struggles that become a part of it from the people who haven't read a word. Well they are largely bracketed as illiterate or unlettered which seems offensive to me. When it comes to learning and unlearning of things diversity chips in as opposed to the monopoly of social hierarchies.
During the Covid-19 times and post that too the role of a teacher has seen a paradigmatic shift. There is a situational adjustment and adaptation in vogue as the learner- teacher equation hazards new challenges. Much has been written and said about it but in any circumstance can the role of teacher be undermined, no matter how much technological progress is there.
A strange and rather emancipative lining can be discerned through the 'zoom culture' during pandemic times; that there was democratisation of knowledge as far as accessibility is concerned. I am sure most of the people may have been part of teaching/learning exercises across the world which was nearly impossible in the times with in-person mode.
The dialectics of teaching have been mostly disciplined to the codified regimens of a syllabus as the teacher who goes beyond that is considered a heretic. Why can't the teacher in the real sense of term has the agency of crafting a student according to his interests and psychological predispositions instead of a time bound haste of 'syllabus finishing' mindset as if he is slogging in the final overs of a cricket game.
The categories of teachers from a primary to higher education level is different and given the stress on higher education scenario in Kashmir, much needs to be done on primary/secondary level. As Ajaz-ul-Haque wisely wrote in one of his articles, "School Education is the foundation on which the Higher education rests. In public health policies infant mortality is a greater concern than standard of living. Only when children survive,they can avail the amenities of life when they are adults .Here same analogy also works. Better higher education is an ideal concept without a better school education. It's base first,face comes later".
From the observational evidence, there is to a large extent erosion and degradation of teaching environs in some instances which can be disastrous in the long run. There is an urgent need for the much required re-envisioning and re-designing of the values of what it means to be a teacher and how it can be either a creative or destructive pursuit. The urgency of moulding and shaping the students in both the specified knowledge and most importantly in the lessons of navigating the turbulent phases of the life.
In a more strange way of putting it, 'teacher' has always been there and has survived and stood test of times but has it remained the same is a question that will be answered in the times to come. The kind of contactless and virtual marathon we are in, there is a need to adapt to the changing modes of teaching and side by side imparting the moral and existential teaching as well. In a way we are humans first then the teachers/gurus/ustaad and once we have that spirit in ourselves we surely will be shaping up the future that pays back the humanity with the same values of humanity. And then someone said from the virtual dystopian 'Do we need a Teacher'.