Thursday - 28 September 2023 - 4:07 PM

Day Special: The Lighthouse called Teacher

Anand P Srivastava

Every year we celebrate Teacher’s Day with enthusiasm and fanfare, honoring our best teachers. They deserve every bit of it, for teachers work hard with students to bring out their talent and nurture them. Teachers play the most important role in a student’s life. In Indian literature, a guru is ranked even higher than God – as evident from the famous couplet by poet Kabir: Guru Gobind doukhade – kake lagoon payen – balihari guru apne – Gobind diyobatayen. Teachers work with clay, they mould and transform this clay into potential doctors, engineers, scientists, bureaucrats, sportsmen, musicians, dancers and the like. The role of teachers goes beyond the classroom, well into the future.

The most important question a teacher faces – apart from the usual syllabus he has to teach – is – what qualities he should inculcate in his students which can make them successful in life. To my mind, there are 6 such qualities. Let us discuss them one by one.

The first is obviously the Hard Work. This is a no-brainer. We all know that hard work is the path to success. With persistent efforts we can bring out substantial change in our knowledge, our life and our career. No two views about that. Solets teach our students the power of persistent hard work. By doing just that, they can beat a lot of competition. Honeybees visit 2 million flowers and fly more than 55,000 miles to produce 1 pound of honey. Sweet results demand hard, persistent work.

The Second is Teamwork. When we work as a team, our performance multiplies. Individually, we can excel in our field. But at workplace we have to work as a team to reach collective goals. If a hockey player surrounded by opposite team’s players does not pass on the ball to a teammate who has a goal post open in front of him, he is hurting the chances of a team victory. A famous football coach once said: we can’t win the game if we have 5 best players in the world, but we can win the game if we have the best five. Note the difference. The five bests are still five, whereas the ‘best five’ play as one, as a team.

The third is Humility. Let us teach our students to be humble. Arrogance breeds contempt. Humility generates natural respect. Humility connects people at a much deeper level. I once received a SIDA scholarship from Linkoping University of Sweden. When I got the email, I called up another friend in Vietnam who had also applied for it. Her name was Thao. I proudly told her I was selected for the scholarship, and I asked about her. She very politely replied, “Yes, I have also been accepted”. Look at the difference – As Indians we often say we have been selected for NDA, or IIT, or IIM, and here is someone telling me that she has been ‘accepted’. And she is no small wonder, she has studied at the Asian Institute of Management, Manila, one of the most premier institutes of the world. But she says she has been ‘accepted’ by the Swedish International Development Agency. The difference of ‘selected’ and ‘accepted’ is what humility signifies. So lets us teach our students to be humble.

The 4th quality is Honesty. And when I say honesty, I do not just mean to be honest to others. I also mean being honest to one’s own self. When you are honest to yourself, your whole world transforms and you get amazing results.

There was a prisoner in New York, who was sentenced for capital punishment and to be hanged the next day. When soldiers passed in front of his cell, they saw him sitting with his head bowed down between his knees. They realized that he was so grim and sad because of his impending death. Next morning, they came and took him away. He was hanged. When they came back to clean up his cell, they saw something written on the wall. It was a small poem. The title of the poem was – Man in the Mirror. The last stanza of the poem read like this:

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,

And gets pats on the back as you pass

But your final reward will be heartache and tears

If you have cheated the man in the glass…

(Courtesy – Believe and Achieve, by Paul Hanna)

The ‘man in the glass’ here means our own reflection, so let’s teach our students to be honest to themselves.

The 5th quality is Confidence. Generally, every child is born the same. In the beginning he or she is confidant and fearless. Over a period, it is us who bring down his confidence. We reprimand children, make fun of children, punish children, dampening their confidence. Reprimand kills confidence. Encouragement builds confidence. We should take our children to a level where they are supremely confident of themselves, because confidence brings out the best in them.

When Professor Jagdish Chandra Bose discovered that there is life in plants, he was invited by universities across the globe to demonstrate this. One of his favorite stage demonstrations was to inject poison in a plant after which the plant would die. One of the scientists who was jealous of him, replaced the bottle of poison with a plain liquid of same color. When Dr Bose injected the liquid, nothing happened. This was a hugely embarrassing moment. Voices from audience started coming in, some people started laughing. Dr Bose picked up the poison bottle and drank all the liquid that was left. He said, if this poison cannot kill the plant, it can’t kill me either. He had so much confidence in his discovery. We need to create that level of confidence in our students.

The 6th quality is Resilience. Resilience means ability to bounce back from failure. We should teach our children how to handle failure. They will not always be successful. There will be moments of heartbreak, losses, falling short of expectations, defeats. We need to prepare them for such future shocks. We need to teach them how to stand up again on their feet, reorganize themselves and fight the battle of life with renewed vigour and energy. Remember, the most important ingredient of success is failure.

Also Read: Evaluation of Educational Institutes in India

Is it possible to create all these qualities in our students? Of course, it is. Is it easy to create all these qualities in our students? Of course Not. But nothing comes easy in life. We don’t value things we get easily. A famous Urdu poet Rahat Indori has said :

Safar ki had haiwahantak, ki kuchhnishanrahe / chalechalo ki jahantak ye aasmaanrahe/ ye kyauthaye kadam aur aa gai manzil, maza to tab hai ki pairon me kuchhthakaanrahe…

On this Teachers’ day, let us acknowledge all the teachers who make extra efforts to inculcate various qualities in their pupils. Agriculture is said to be the oldest profession. Teaching should be called the noblest one. Once again, let us salute the lighthouse called Teacher. Happy Teachers Day to one and all.

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