Time to Pause -Think – Teach – Repeat

Hi, if you have read my first blog, you all are aware of my accidental entry into the teaching world. However, in a couple of days, I learned that being a teacher demanded much more than teaching. Imparting textbook knowledge caters only to half of the job. Would like to quote Mr Abraham Lincoln here who has justly and briefly summed up the role of a teacher in a letter to his sons’ teacher.

“My son starts school today. It is all going to be strange and new to him for a while and I wish you would treat him gently. It is an adventure that might take him across continents. All adventures that probably include wars, tragedy and sorrow. To live this life will require faith, love and courage.

So dear Teacher, will you please take him by his hand and teach him things he will have to know. Teach him that for every enemy, there is a friend. He will have to know that all men are not just, that all men are not true. …

Teach him if you can that 10 cents earned are of far more value than a dollar found. In school, teacher, it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to learn how to gracefully lose, and enjoy winning when he does win.

Teach him to be gentle with gentle people, tough with tough people. Steer him away from envy if you can and teach him the secret of quiet laughter. Teach him if you can – how to laugh when he is sad, teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach him there can be glory in failure and despair in success.

Teach him if you can the wonders of books, but also give time to ponder the extreme mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on a green hill. Teach him to have faith in his ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong.

Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone else is doing it. Teach him to listen to everyone, but teach him also to filter all that he hears on a screen of truth and take only the good that comes through.

………. Teach him to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind, in God.

This is the order, teacher but see what best you can do. He is such a nice little boy and he is my son.”

Lincoln’s writing serves as a guiding star to all teachers. Here he urges to teach his son, the worthiness of life. What a teacher ought to do beyond the four walls of the classroom confined with textbooks is of paramount importance compared to what they do inside. But in recent times it is observed that most of the teachers limit their teaching only to textbook knowledge. In the mad pursuit of completion of syllabus, curriculum, competitions, assessments, schools and teacher forget to cater to the development of emotional intelligence and life skills of students.

Educational organisations have come a long way and achieved great heights in terms of infrastructure (some schools give one the look and feel of a five-star hotel) and technology-driven education. Technology continues to push educational capabilities to new levels. Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Cloud Computing for Education, 3D Printing, Social Media in Educational Institutions, The Use of Biometrics in Schools, are few to speak about. Kudos to them but do these schools guarantee a wholesome education for the child?

Don’t get me wrong I am not in contradiction to the use of technology but somewhere we need to PAUSE and THINK, are we instilling values, life skills, social skills, emotional management skills to students? Isn’t it a farce that we don’t have a well-developed curriculum to instil values and virtues in children?

The new fad among most schools is preparing learners to crack IIT. Recently I approached various schools to secure admission for my son. Seven out of ten schools tried to sell themselves by saying that they will train him to crack IIT exam.  Some schools even claimed to train students right from grade 3! Hilarious isn’t it! This is a marketing gimmick to which parents are falling prey to. It is a mesmerising source of attraction for them. We both as parents and educators are stripping the childhood from a child. Has anyone ever pondered, even if schools are efficacious in manufacturing IITians, will the market need the multitude of engineers that will be produced down the line? Will there be enough colleges for everyone to secure admission? Who will take responsibility for the career of those who fail to secure admission?

Educational Institutions need to incorporate some key modifications in the school curriculum framework so that school education can be a worthwhile alternative against the mad rush for preparing for IIT entrance exams. One of the most detrimental facets of the culture spawned by this IIT mania is the effective neglect of true education that inevitably brings joy, enlightenment and self-fulfilment. This seems to be the case not only within the IIT systems but also during the process of preparing for the IIT entrance examination.

Let’s not forget that the world also needs good teachers, doctors, musicians, painters, writers, dancers and most importantly compassionate human beings. Let’s introspect and strive together to create a world where people are empathetic, benevolent and humble. God has bestowed us(teachers) with this vital responsibility. With all our might we should strive to shoulder the same.

It’s high time that we PAUSE and THINK and then TEACH.

In my next blog, I will be listing down a few skills that should be reared and grown in learners along with the core curriculum.

*Disclaimer: Ideas present in this article is solely based on the writer’s personal experiences and observations. The writer doesn’t intend to belittle any organisation or people.

-Moumita Choudhury-

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