“What makes a good teacher? How do we cultivate and nurture these characteristics in society? How can students be motivated by teachers, good and bad?”
I’d like to start with the heading tag – Gurudevobhava, which is a sanskrit line that means Teacher equals God.
What makes a good teacher? A good teacher’s good qualities are reflected not only in the teacher, but also in his/her students. How the students were when they joined the teacher, and how they are when they leave the teacher’s sharan, basically sums up how successful a teacher has been in his job.
As such, the most important quality that is universally required by a teacher is Patience. Since a teacher is always expected to teach a lot of children and every child is different, the teacher has to handle each in his own different way. Some students learn fast, while some trail behind.
It is most important for a teacher to respect the needs of every child and try to adapt with him/her. Children are taught to respect their teachers but it is also very important for the teachers to respect the feelings, the thinking process and the needs of the child. A teacher does not get permission by virtue of his position, to insult a child infront of his classmates for low marks or misbehavior or tantrums, that is what I mean by respect for each child, as an individual in his own right.
A teacher should refrain from playing favourites because it affects the mind of students in a very bad way. Every student is equal, and no matter what the caste, creed or intelligence level a student may possess, teachers are duty-bound to treat everyone in the same way. Favoritism is an existing evil, but very few indulge in it. Most teachers are morally sound and do not play favorites.
A teacher should alienate his/her personal problems the moment he enters his class. Taking a bad mood to the class is not right. Similarly, losing temper should also be avoided at all costs. It is a well-known fact that a child’s psyche responds better to kind words than to harsh orders. In fact, the more you try to reign a child, the more he goes out of control. Nothing beats kindness in getting a child to listen.
Enforcing discipline is an important task of a teacher, and probably, the most difficult one too. But discipline does not entail spanking kids. Corporal punishment is no more an accepted disciplinary procedure and it should not, infact be resorted to. Non-violent, non-intrusive methods should be adopted for enforcing discipline.
I would say that, every single person born on earth is intrinsically two things:
1. A learner
2. A teacher
A child starts learning (how to cry, how to smile, how to move his hands, etc) the very moment he is born. We all are learners at every stage in life. Not only during our college days, but also during work hours. Even when we become old, we learn to walk with support, we learn to accept the zenith decades of life with dignity… learning continues until the soul finds freedom.
And each one of us will agree that we always have something to teach everyone around us. You may teach a friend how to play an i-pod, Rahul may teach his Grand-dad how to use the computer to read world-news, Nisha may teach her grandmom how to use the cell phone so that she doesnot worry when she’s in the call-center on duty. Basically, everyone of us has a teacher inside us.
How does a teacher contribute to the betterment of the society? I would like to include all teachers (all people) in the debate, without restricting to school/college teachers. Starting from the home, parents are a kid’s first teachers. Discipline starts from there. When a child is at home, it is relatively easier to enforce discipline. At home, most parents face tantrums from children and they have to deal with them first. Imagine, the same child going to a school, and is being faced with a new environment where he sees 20 more kids like him, frolicking around in the kindergarten… he has two options, he may either turn bossy and demand that the slide is his own to use, or he may find a corner and sulk. Some may just go with the flow, and some may simply enjoy life.
When students start progressing to greater classes, they experience a lot of changes within themselves. In fact, the period from 6th standard to 10th standard is the period in which a child is moulded into a good person. It is easier to mould a child during this period. Because his values are not yet determined, his character has not yet been built, his mind-set is still in the child-ego, almost on the threshold of later teenage years, it’s relatively easier for the teachers to influence/motivate children.
How can teachers influence children?
1. By example (of people who have done well in life, icons like Mother Teresa, Gandhi etc)
2. By following what they preach (Always be gentle, speak good words, etc)
3. By organizing mock dramas that end in morals
4. By clubbing real-world events with moral values and encouraging debates/discussions among students (Charity for earthquake victims)
5. By allowing each student to play ‘teacher’ turn by turn to let them understand what effort it takes to teach a class.
These exercises should be made mandatory in every standard.
A teacher takes up a big responsibility when he/she is allotted a class. So, it is the duty of the co-ordinators & Principal to ensure that each teacher may not be allotted more than 30 students. Since every student trusts his development upon his teacher, the school has to understand what a responsibility that would be, and see to it that the 1:30 ratio is not flouted under any circumstance. This brings up the issue of commercialization because of which, schools are admitting more students than their capacity. Until the system of education is trapped in the throes of commercialization and profit-making, it has fewer hopes of reform.
Although counselling is required in every school, very few provide it. So a teacher must also serve as a counseller to his students and just be there whenever students run to him for any kind of solutions.
I think a teacher must always try to aim at developing the personality of his students. To teach them how to talk to elders, how to respond when people speak to them, how to maintain eye-contact, how to learn proper and positive body language, should all be intrinsically taught by teachers. Encouraging students to read good books such as Shiv Khera’s You Can Win, Robin Sharma’s Family Wisdom etc is mandatory. In fact, it would do good to arrange book-reading and subsequent discussions in the class to encourage productive reading.
Since it is not possible to personally take care of all the weaker students, one practical solution is to club weak students with brilliant students and encourage the smarter ones to teach their counterparts. Here, it is very important to make students realize the purpose of education as not just gaining more marks but also gaining more knowledge. Knowledge must be dispersed to make it useful.
Finally, teachers have the power to mould a child. And that power is a very kind God-given gift that a teacher can use to mould a child into a better person, a responsible individual.
(This is not the end, the discussion has just started.)
© Punam J R., all rights reserved.