The status of the teacher in India has traditionally been even higher than that of God. It is not surprising, therefore, that there is much ritualistic acknowledgement of the Guru’s role. However, it would be better if society were to also understand the challenges faced by the Education Sector, in general, and teachers, in particular.
Education is, today, not so much communication of information from generation to generation as it was in the past. Information is available just a click away and in an abundance that no single teacher or even textbooks can match. However, the teacher’s job has become even more crucial and challenging as students have to learn how to shape that information for application purposes in life. There is no doubt that teaching even a basic understanding of this requires extraordinary ability. The job requires dedication and extreme selflessness, which is why it was so venerated in the past.
How able are present day teachers to deliver in this regard? The job is no longer a calling and is more of a profession. Too many are doing it simply because they could not qualify for the many careers that are so much higher on the social and economic scales these days. George Bernard Shaw has said, ‘Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach!’ This is too much the reality in the present. Unfortunately, these are the very persons tasked with the humungous responsibility of preparing the next generation for the unprecedentedly complicated present-day existence.
The powers that be need to realise, therefore, that it is no longer possible to depend on the inherent Guru like qualities of the teacher. There is a need to make it a genuine profession based on carefully worked out general policy regarding what education comprises today. This is particularly important in a world where much of society’s turmoil has reached the academic world. While teachers do retain some authority in the schools, it has been almost entirely abdicated by them in the institutions of higher learning. Political correctness has reached a point where students are actually deciding what and how they will learn, if they will learn at all. Increasingly, victimhood of one or the other kind is used to dictate terms to the establishment.
It is not a surprise, therefore, that in the real world of cutthroat competition – particularly at the global level – all such skills count for nothing. Competition in India has become mostly about getting a larger slice of what could well be a diminishing cake. It is no wonder that the philosophical end of all disciplines – higher thinking – is getting increasingly atrophied. India is suffering as a result.