In my eleven summers as a school kid, I witnessed the diminished stature of teachers in our society not financially, but intellectually, socially and I blame teachers for this self-destruction.
You are nation builders as we are told but are you living up to the expectations of nation? Are students and their parents satisfied with your role and conduct?
No they aren't.
During my school life, I got to hear a common advice from every teacher saying:
"Child, take your studies seriously, otherwise, you will end up as a teacher and you'd regret it for your entire life!"
"Beta, padhai kia karo, warna hamari tarah teacher ki naukri karni padegi. Phir umar bar pashtaogey phir!"
This was usual uninvited career advice from our school teachers, across private and public schools, where an "educator" claims to be a failure in front of students. A student looks upon the teacher for inspiration, ends up identifying the teacher as a failed person, and failures don't create winners.
Certainly such teachers lose respect from students and there are thousands of such teachers in our society who are failing our students, society, and overall education.
May I ask you, why:
Why is it that in the 21st century teachers still tend to command respect through stick and high voice tone.
Why is it that teachers' bias towards position holders and first benchers is strengthening and not reducing.
Why is it that a teacher teaches democratic values but in class he holds the role of an autocratic individual who can't be questioned.
Why is it that teachers are not accommodative towards non arts students.
Why is it that private school teachers are interested in private home tutoring and not school teaching.
Why is it that public school teachers are not sending their sons and daughters to their own school i.e., govt school and not private school.
In September 2019 at the United Nations summit, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg in her emotional speech called out world leaders by saying, 'We are at the beginning of mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of economic growth. How dare you?'.
Her speech was celebrated all over the world but the point which we are missing is her right to say 'How dare you' to world leaders. Imagine Greta Thunberg in our classroom, will the class teacher liberate her against authorities by saying 'How dare you?' The answer is a big No.
Can teachers across Kashmir tolerate a Malala Yusufzai student at school who is unapologetically critical of teaching methods?
Why is it that, teachers, students, educational institutions will take action against her and she will hear comments like "Your parents have failed you!
Why is it that a student commits a mistake in school, he is made to sit on floor of the staff room and not on chair?
Isn't this strengthening the colonial mindset?
Why is asking a question to teachers considered disobedience or indiscipline!
Why not appreciate such a student for his or her critical thinking and see it as a teacher's achievement?
Let's be honest. YouTube videos, Education apps, websites are better teachers than all of us. Cultural teaching techniques are a thing of past and rote learning is non effective and intellectually disabling.
So in today's world what's the role of teacher?
Answer is, to inspire students, teaching is about inspiration and not information.
Take the example of Maths, I don't know why I studied trigonometry in school. Maths teachers could never explain to us what's the importance of trigonometry in real life. Perhaps the maths teacher was more ignorant than his students.
When a teacher is teacher by compulsion and not by choice, education becomes compulsion and students its casualty.
Why is it that students of top private schools and their teachers in Kashmir are listening to private tutors and not school teachers.
Why is it that students of Govt schools are hopeless individuals with no academic ambitions.
Yes, private teachers are not paid adequately; yes, you face difficulties dealing with students, their parents, good grades, students can be rude and least thankful. But imparting learning, inspiring students and performing duty as a teacher is selfless. It deserves more devotion, dedication and vision.
Dear teachers, teaching is a service - a selfless sacred service, a duty or a contribution, where producing future beings equipped with wisdom and intellect should be your motive in life.
Let's not forget a successful teacher is not the one with money but the one who produced influential beings who contributed towards betterment of this world.
Badrul Duja is a practicing advocate.