The honour of being a teacher

“Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of an individual. If the people remember me as a good teacher, that will be the biggest honor for me”- APJ Abdul Kalam

Rev Fr C Joseph, Counsellor
St Joseph’s College (Autonomous) Jakhama

While growing up, the only person we tend to respect after our parents, are our teachers because the greatest lessons are learnt in the classroom. Even though many times we feel that they are a waste, but somewhere after a decade, everything starts coming into practicality, and hence our bookish lessons come to life.

Chanakya, a minister in the Maurya dynasty and one of the greatest teachers off all times; spoke about the need for teachers in nation building. He said that this nation will become independent, liberal and forward, when the teachers it has guides it properly. A teacher will become successful when he will be able to build the character of a person more than anything. He went on to speak about how a teacher was unable to teach his students properly, if they did not understand the importance of nation building.

Dr Radhakrishnan, one of the most erudite Presidents of our country has had, preferred to be known as a teacher than as the President of the country, and the country today pays him the greatest tribute by celebrating his birthday as the Teachers’ Day! Teaching is primarily a mission and a commitment!  Moulding the mind of a child is a noble mission. We deal with human beings, and no two individuals are the same. We have to handle each of our students with the utmost care. Fragile, handle with care is the norm here. A teacher should be able to discipline his/her student with love and understanding, always helping the student to discover the hidden talents within, and develop them.

Abraham Lincoln wrote once to his son’s teacher “Most Respected 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, teaching him - but gently, if you can. 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. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero that for every crooked politician, there is a dedicated leader. Teach him if you can that 10 cents earned is of far more value than a dollar found. In school, teacher, it is far more honorable 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 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 to scoff at cynics. 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 own 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 filters all that he hears on a screen of truth and take only the good that comes through.

Teach him to sell his talents and brains to the highest bidder but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul. Let him have the courage to be impatient, let him have the patient to be brave. 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.”

Conclusion: Teaching is many things to many people, but to me, “noble” is laden with images of royalty, classism, and oppression. I prefer to think of teaching as an ethical profession in which the teacher makes choices for the betterment of their students. Good teaching is ethical, analytic, and reflective. The best teacher will tell you that as they teach their mind is constantly analyzing content, response, and pedagogical method. This ensures the growth of the students as well as the growth of the teacher.

Teachers, you are precious to us!