24 January, 2009

Change and the Profession of Teaching

By C. Radhakrishnan

There is always a very close relationship between the concept of ‘change’ and the profession of teaching. Change is very essential for becoming a successful teacher. Teaching is a profession that needs up gradation on a daily basis. But in reality, we teachers have some kind of grudge towards new ideologies and methodologies. We always remain our self in a narrow shell and feel comfortable and think every thing is perfect. However we fail to understand the minds of children who are under our care. These children evaluate and observe things or facts from an entirely different angle. Once we fail to understand that angle, our teaching would not have any effect on these learners.

Let’s ponder over these questions – How many of us like to watch a 1970’s or 80’s action movie every day on a black and white television? I am sure; majority would answer in the negative. Why don’t we like to watch? We don’t want because in these movies we can’t find any variety, modernity, colour, pace or relevance. Now introspect your teaching, it would be very clear that our teaching also resembles for the children like 1970’s or 80’s movies on a black and white television. Really, you feel how these children bear with us every day, not for half an hour but for five to six hours.

Let me come to the point, many of our students actually want to learn, for a better future, but some how they are not able to. The reason is they are unmotivated through our traditional black and white classroom environment. Many educationists argue that it is the teachers’ attitude that effects their motivation. Teachers must understand that students cannot be motivated by the same old message of sit down, shut up and listen so that you can memorise facts to write on to the test paper. It seems obvious that they are not necessarily unmotivated or unwilling learners. They are simply uninvolved in the depersonalisation of the traditional classroom. They are ready to learn, but simply may not be able to cope up with the way they are taught.

Thus it is we, not the students have to change. Making a change requires a great deal of soul searching and rethinking by each one of us. Remember the words of Barrack Obama; if we want change, we have to change ourselves. If we wait for others it will never happen. So let’s take a pledge, “I will change my self into a most modern plasma television set which has clarity, brightness, modernity, variety, pace and all other features that the present generation of students are much fond off”.

As teachers/educators we should have a paradigm change to become a real ‘Guru’ from the status of a mere teacher. Evidently, according to the Indian tradition the Guru is not just a teacher but much more. A teacher teaches but a Guru dispels darkness. This indicates the close relationship between the teacher and the taught. So it is the responsibility of each one of us to make necessary changes in our mindset for dispelling darkness and to bring new rays of hope and light into the minds of children under our care. To conclude, ‘a teacher, who is attempting to teach without inspiring the students with a desire to learn, is hammering on a cold iron’.