I can’t live a static life. I believe in new experiments. We always learn and unlearn once we move out of our comfort zones. I was in the last legs of Masters at University of Kashmir when the results of MANUU entrance test for B.Ed. programme were declared. I had secured All India Rank 25th. Due to other unavoidable engagements, I couldn’t join. But a year later, distance learning seemed a viable option. University of Kashmir’s 2018 notification took six months to complete the admission formalities. Fortnights dragged into a year and finally much-awaited classwork started in January 2020.
Cloud-bothered sky didn’t stop us to attend the teacher-training sessions. Even the slippery steep slope ahead of North campus of the varsity didn’t seem a bottleneck. But the unnecessary delay of precious one hour on the very first day was a bad impression. None dared to speak. Shivering souls couldn’t utter a word about the unavailability of heating arrangements. The liaison officer started clichéd introductory speech about Kashmir’s archaic education system. Without playing the blame-game, we were told that questioning is encouraged in this liberal mode of study but what followed in next three weeks was unbelievable, unexpected and unprofessional.
Subjects were not allotted to Counsellors and time-management was not framed. The day was a complete disappointment as bragging about achievements is what hit our ear drums. With no subject-expert available for pupil-teachers, we were left in the lurch. A teacher can’t go inside and order adults with authoritative tone. Teacher is a facilitator, not a policeman. Here, the counsellors recruited were mostly greenhorn, unguided. Classroom is a den of variety of potentials. No counsellor has right to treat aspiring teachers like prisoners. Let me elucidate and substantiate it with an argument. One ‘teacher’ started gender segregation, nobody knows on what capacity. It was unbecoming. A teacher is supposed to shape head, heart and hand. Our classroom was a totalitarian state where thought was controlled. Many a time, I was asked not to ask questions.
Banking approach was encouraged and problem-posing approach was binned. Even God doesn’t dislike asking questions. God came up with practical demonstration to Abraham when he quizzed about how life can be revived hereafter. When I asked a creative question about guidance and counselling, I was asked to shut up. The counsellor shouted at me. I froze. I get goosebumps when I recall the moment. My intelligence was buried. I ceased to exist that day. I couldn’t turn up for next three days. Prophetic position has truly lost its sheen. God’s deputy on earth has stooped too low to be looked up to. Our teachers are biased and discriminate on likings and linkages.
In a welfare state, talent is considered an asset and a teacher must know how to groom leadership qualities in an individual. But most of our teachers rebuke, humiliate and hurt the sentiments of students in class without any remorse. Good teaching forces the learner to constantly adjust and assimilate their own values, structure, thought, pattern and total configuration of what they know. I don’t understand the yardstick or the selection criteria. Why should a ‘resource-person’ intrude in trainee’s religious privacy? Is it the key parameter set by KU’s Distance cell? Our ‘counsellor’ shouted at us and addressed us as “hanglan hend peth chu wechan.” Another inflammatory remark is not printable. Teachers must earn respect, once they demand it, they are gone as ‘nation builders’. When a teacher quips and becomes a source of discontentment, there is nothing haunting than this. Novel ideas were stopped. Our ‘counsellor’ yelled when asked to introduce herself. Not letting your students ask questions is the betrayal of the idea and imagination of the university.
The obsolete system of discussing perks and promotions, increments and incentives etc. is still in vogue. Our teachers don’t generate interest, they always blame yahan kay haalat when they have nothing substantial to offer. Imagine a teacher supposed to provide environmental awareness hiding chits behind the podium and compelling us to take notes, spending remaining minutes with attendance register and the story is over. If this is the approach in our higher education, then we are left with Socratian choice: “Gulp hemlock or opt exile.” Dictation method is for kindergarten. We expect impromptu interactions.
‘Teacher’ forced R.B.Tagore to reject traditional schooling when his creative corner was not acknowledged. It was a blessing in disguise. He travelled places, met Einstein. The Himalayan figure was shaken and bowed in front of equally towering Tagore. Arrogant teachers never respect talent. Genius lives in a bubble – a dreamy world of innocence where ideal thoughts are nurtured. But our schools are kill curiosity. We need to stop telling to shut up and learn. When a teachers lack the subject-matter, they gets confused, deviate and annoy the class. This is what happened in our case. A teacher must know the pulse. I believe in taking mental notes. Let us store the lecture in our brains. Why paste it on paper. What for? The incompetent teacher will never understand this logic. In Educational Psychology, we try to study students’ learning abilities and churn the best out of them, but when teacher sermons and suggests to go for rot learning, it hurts. “Aap sirf chaap do” is how we were trained. John Davy’s Project method and unconventional approach was discarded. Froebel’s play way method was out of fashion. Our ‘teachers’ were naïve to the idea of how intrinsic motivation is increased? Not even once was any audiovisual method adopted. Mandatory micro-teaching sessions were skipped. Instead, would-be teachers were crammed in a classroom (on the final day of the training) like a herd of cattle where they jostled for space. I sat on the cold floor. It was a scripted ‘seminar’.
A teacher must be an aquarium of knowledge. Students try different dips to quench their thirst but our ‘teachers’ are the driest lot. In environmental education paper, contemporary political discussion of a particular news channel is discussed. It is ridiculously shameful. Why impose your views when it is none of your business. A student is teacher’s baby. Infants babbling and tantrums is part of parenting. Our teachers are armed with piles of degrees but lack teaching skills.
In any decent society, collective character assassination of students will never be accepted but our ‘teachers’ conspire in classes. Our ‘teachers’ fan the flames and instigate. It may sound unpalatable but it is a harsh truth. Our teachers think whatever they vomit in class is a gospel truth. They still teach English language in mother tongue or in second language. Teachers kill our potential by not respecting our space for dissent. No theory is complete. I may have reservations with certain formulas. Why am I being evaluated on a set code? Why can’t I come up with my own explanations? Learning is not a permanent change since we quickly unlearn things through experience. The level of positive transfer of learning in our teachers is almost zero. A teacher can’t pass crude comments. We must celebrate similarities and appreciate differences. Like a mason, a teacher digs, ditches and drains, but what is wrong with ‘spiritual parents’ in this part of the globe?
Effective learning happens in a flexible environment. Rigidity harms growth and development of a student. When was the last time any teacher used token economy trick? Every student is creative in their own ways. Need of the hour is to find the real self of a student. Undoubtedly, some good teachers do exist but the rotten fish have contaminated the pond. The image of noble pedestal is tarnished beyond repair.
Now, I have decided to switch the gear and do prove my mettle somewhere else. The contemporary status and stature of a teacher reminds me of sub-continent’s greatest storyteller, Saadat Hassan Manto, “Jab taleem ka buniyadi maqsad naukri ka husuul ho, tou ma’ashre mein naukar hi paida hote hai, rehnuma nahi.”