RAJENDRA CHANDORKAR
Consultant And Soft Skills Trainer
KS Rao
Soft Skills Training

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The definition of a teacher is given as ‘One who teaches, especially one hired to teach.’ Mark the word hired and many things become quite clear.

The Guru and its meaning from the Upanishad:

The part- ‘gu’ means shadows

The part- ‘ru’, he who disperses them

Because of the power to disperse darkness

the guru is thus named.

– Advayataraka Upanishad 14—18, verse

Right from the earliest known times teaching is always considered as a noble profession.

Sadly, today this very statement needs verification. Now the statement would be like teaching was considered to be a noble profession. In the past few decades many things at many levels are altered either knowingly or otherwise, which have contributed to a significant degeneration of the image of a teacher and teaching. There is a saying in Hindi, which tells us that there is darkness below the lamp. Similar situation is present in the case of teachers. When most of the times he himself is groping in darkness of ignorance, indecision and confusion what enlightenment can be expected of him? Another meaning is the teachers are those who by realization of knowledge can distinguish between the individual and the supreme consciousness and lead to the ultimate liberation.

I consider myself very lucky and I express my gratitude to many my teachers who were excellent. The list would be a long one so I do not mention any names. One common factor in all these teachers was that they had a genuine passion for teaching. Secondly, they made the subjects very interesting. Later in the management institute a different class of teachers taught us – the visiting faculties. Each of their visits to our classroom was a sort of guided tour of the particular subject. The ease with which we learnt about many intricacies was due to the ability of these teachers to create a picture and give details about our roles in the same. Mind you, very few of these persons had any special qualifications such as B.Ed.

Today, there are D.Ed., B.Ed., M.Ed., M.Phil.and Ph.D. As if this is not enough there is a SET and a NET. The effect of all these well-meaning measures can be seen in the empty class rooms and over crowded coaching classes. Our policy makers think that the persons with qualifications automatically know how to teach. The concept in itself has a folly. We do not have to belittle the importance of the qualifications but at the same time we have to see as to how these qualifications were acquired. The relationship between the qualifications and the ability to teach is quite complex. When it was found that the qualified persons were lacking in teaching skills, the think tank of the administration added more exams. The problem remains as it is.

Teaching is much more than the accumulation of knowledge. A person may be is qualified, has passed the required tests and yet he may turn out as a miserable failure in teaching. Teaching is a comprehensive process. The optimal mix of various essential factors in one person is a rarity. Even if it is found it has to survive and sustain over a span of say 25 years. The qualifications can at the most take him to the door of the classroom. What he does inside and in front of the students is a big question. What he knows is important but how he transfers what he knows to the students is absolutely vital. The expression, the enthusiasm and the interest in the students are some of the requisites, which are conspicuous by their absence. May be these teachers are also products of the same lousy system, which does not allow the development of thinking, depends heavily on question banks culture.

The teachers are supposed to be in a continuous quest for knowledge. The Sanskrit word is “Vyasanga” when roughly translated would mean ‘deep all-round study’. The teachers in the primary schools may not need to be very scholarly but then they need other qualities such as immense patience and sympathy.

In the PG classes the teachers must have:

a) Absolute command over the domain knowledge. Any compromise here is fatal.

b) Absolute command over the instruction language, which in most cases is English.

c) Excellent reading habits and research inclinations

d) Empathy towards the students rather than sympathy

The actual picture is not what it should be. The blame game goes on and on. The teachers blame the students, management blames the teachers, the society blames the process, and the employers blame their employees for the poor quality. What does the concerned department do? It starts a brand new education policy. The experimentation is unending. They talk of job-oriented education, which actually means the dilution of the subjects. Most states have ministers who have very little to do with education. Whatever degrees they may have they hardly look educated.

In a country where The Guru is placed even before the Lord himself the whole system of education is degenerating very fast. The results of the decay are now visible in the society. Present day system at best of the times is producing hollow cored, empty minded students. Most students have very little self-esteem and openly endorse corruption both money and moral levels. In fact, I find they are eager to join the corrupt system. The state of the entire education system is so damaged that people have literally stopped respecting any degree unless verified in the field. Majority of the vice chancellors, the principals and the professors, have shown a distinct lack of vision and their helplessness shows in their behavior and performance. All these people probably know that they occupy the chairs for the reasons other than their academics. Again I am not talking of their degrees; they usually have half a dozen of them. The earlier generations of all the categories above were very rarely political appointees; they commanded respect because of their knowledge rather than their contacts. They used to be excellent orators, researchers and generally more active in academics than politics.

Let us look at the genesis of a typical teacher in our country. If we do a sort of backward integration we may find that most teachers are teachers because they could not do any thing else. They are bitter due to this fact and they teach when they actually do not want to. This reflects in their attitude. They cannot control the class; or impress the students. Moreover very few of these can effectively speak for the duration of the lecture, the content is almost non-existent and the students are least interested in such lectures. Not surprisingly one of the largest audiences of the FM radios is at the backbenches of the classrooms. Such teachers totally depend upon the internal evaluation as the control tool. What goes on in the name of this activity is absolutely rubbish and I am sure it should be scrapped as it has outlived its utility.

As you travel towards the interior India the picture is even gloomier. The teachers are usually treated very badly; the students are unaware what it takes to be successful. In most schools and colleges copying is rampant. In some extreme cases the teachers even dictate the answers to the students. In spite of this the students fail because the teachers themselves are not good enough.

I know that people would be uncomfortable while they read this article but then that is the whole idea.

Are the teachers only to be blamed? No certainly not. The entire set up is wretched. The teachers are the lowest paid employees in the country. That too if they are paid their total salary! On one hand they are supposed to teach and train the students to get a good job with a handsome salary package and on the other, they get less salary than the initial salary of their worst students. They are supposed to motivate the students when they themselves are de-motivated. The last priority in any education college is the faculty. The infrastructure, the library, the labs, the sports complex, the gym are promoted as the USPs. Many times I am confused when I see the advertisements. Are they promoting an educational institution or a five star hotel? Very rarely, people talk about the intellectual infrastructure, which I feel should be the first thing.

Is there any remedy? Yes! There is one. It is very simple and hence no body wants to talk about it. The answer is to go back to merit basis. Both for the teachers and the students! The compromises arising out of various compulsions and because people tend to run teaching as an industry would never result in the required quality of the teachers. There is no direct proportion of inputs to outputs in teaching. So, as long as we keep on compromising the discussion is on. The farce of training, the search for additional qualifications can never bring in the desired results unless the teachers take teaching as their preferred careers. In the present scenario this seems to be a distant, improbable reality and may be a case of wishful thinking.

The author is a soft skills trainer at the INC, Nagpur.

Rajendra Chandorkar

Aabha, 53 Vasant Nagar

Nagpur: 440022.

Tel: 09423102543/

Email:

From India, Nagpur
Dear Sir
Ex-termly good piece of information. It is said that knowledge fly's on the wing of education and the fact the 21st century is knowledge learning society, even tough learners can't differentiate between the learning actions & thought.

From India, Mumbai
Hello Mr. Rajendra,

Good to know your views on this subject. I think, Mr. Rajendra, the picture is not all that gloom. Like any other commodity, even the price of faculty is a function of demand and supply. You take any faculty from any branch of discipline, there are highly paid and low paid ones. I spent around 23 years in sales career; after that resorted to training. During this period, one college took me on their pay rolls as a soft skills trainer paying 30k as salary. After I left, they had another guy in my place for half of this salary.

Another thing I want to make to you clear is what kind of faculty do we have today? (this is not to blame the faculty; but let us look at realities) Do they have the same values as your teachers or my teachers have? Yesteryear final year student is tomorrow's faculties, especially in most Engg Colleges. What is this faculty to today's final year? will they not call each one 'yar'. If there are 30% of this kind of faculty, don't the students generalise their values and degenerate?

As you said correctly, commercialisation of education is the root cause for all this. Probably the solution is in "less profit and more values" kind of principle. Let us see other comments on this subject. Thanks and regards,

KS Rao

corporatefokus.com

09959129888.

From India, Hyderabad
dear mr. rao
I hv read ur comments long back but then now i am skightly free with end of final exams.
there are many smart explanations and reasons for the preesent state pf affairs in teaching. people have justifications for everty thing around them. that teachers are the last priority in the entire set of things is a foregone conclusion.
i hv written the piece not for fixing the culprits but for reminding us the teachers from KG to PG about what they can achieve. no compromises, no excuses can really help us and our students.
things are not all that gloomy has no reasons but they can turn darkest in the years to come if care is not taken.
regards
Rajendra

From India, Nagpur
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