For most of us, perhaps the best place of learning has been the classroom. The place where teachers dissected everything to brasstacks and made us imbibe unknown and invisible truths; enhancing critical thinking skills. The glory of classroom revolved around the teacher who shoved the whole class into new realms of knowledge and wisdom.
But times have changed. They say so. How much and whence—it’s an arduous question. The pace of life has accelerated, leaving out many things behind. Fastness has crept into every sphere. Fast results, fast bucks and fast success: the mantra of Fast Age has generally eroded the value-concepts and rendered them anachronistic.
One of the causes for relegating the role of a teacher is the introduction of new methods of teaching which are self-instructive and self-explanatory. The use of innovative technology like Internet and other electronic sources has also contributed in minimizing the importance of classroom. To some extent, the deluge of information available (a kind of Information Overload or Infodemic) has robbed the status of a teacher as a ‘knowledge guru’. The decisive element, once the teacher, has now got reduced to e-vanity by creating a monologue and not a real dialogue. Especially in times of pandemic when education system stands utterly disrupted, and is fast leading to digital divide between those from privileged and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Besides, the vast exposure to real life experiences brings the finest lessons home. Learners are more receptive to practical happenings than the pedagogic credo, something known as ‘Outside Learning’ that helps them to frame their learning methodologies based on the things they witness. It holds more water in present times than the good olden days when life was less edgy and, consequently, experiences were usually humanizing and not sharply penetrating.
In a way, it can be supposed that the best classroom today is the World. Maybe that’s why famous American author E.E.Cummings, known for defying structural conformity, wrote–‘the hardest battle is to be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else.’
In an uncertain world that conspires every moment to kill your individuality and tease you to hell, the serious lessons dawn gradually. The criminal killings make you a well-informed hater. The brutal and dogged survival of the powerless makes every minute a tutoring moment. Harsh face of life and ugly side of death makes learning an “effortless” effort! Pupils go past their teacher in terms of practicalities of training. All that is bookish and quite “ideal” simmers down to matter-of-fact routine realities.
In a changed scenario, teacher can at best make his pupil aware that they are the actual agents of change, and have the capability to make a difference in the society they live in. Time has come to go beyond ‘preach/teach style’ of pedagogy. Inspiring self-distrust, a ‘true teacher has to even defend his pupils against his own personal influence…he will have no disciple.’
Of course, none is ready to be a ‘disciple’ and none around qualifies as ‘disciple-able.’ The best classroom, the World, has also brought the rawness of minds in bulk. Little knowledge and misplaced self-assessment has wreaked havoc with the learning spirit.
Moreover, teachers too have lost the real zing. Majority of them are there just by the stroke of chance. Lack of dedication and solemn sense of commitment seems a thing of yore. Teachers seem to have forgotten the aura in teaching and the honour of being a teacher. With little insight of their job, and more into getting fat salaries and other privileges, they are making teaching a mockery. Perhaps they reflect the general malady of the society they belong to. They cannot be expected to work wonders, after all.
Given this repulsive dynamic, the World remains the best place to self-learn and self-explore the authenticity of life and its living.