Redefining the role of new-age teachers
HEART OVER HEAD
One of the most prominent dichotomies we confront in our daily life is that of head and heart. We now live in an age where the head invariably enjoys a higher status than the latter. People are generally assessed based on the qualities of head and those who give priority to the qualities of heart are often rated as misfits or failures. We have come to a level where maintaining the qualities of both head and heart simultaneously has become more or less impractical or even undesirable due to the pressures of modern life style.
World is tending to be more and more materialistic and the last word for everything is money and profit. Hence youngsters choose high-fetching professions. In recent years, we have observed a considerable increase in the number of IT professionals involved in crimes related to adjustment problems in the families. Though these people were immensely rich and they enjoyed covetable positions in the society, they all lacked an essential quality - Emotional Quotient.†
During the long period of education, the subjects these people preferred and the attitude of the teachers who taught them gave maximum priority to the Intelligence Quotient which is solely related to the head or the brain. They were all obsessed with the mark they scored in subjects and thus they were followers of the principles of cut-throat competition, which did not allow an atom of sympathy towards the fellow beings. Thus unknowingly they led a life where human values enjoyed a secondary status.
Consequently there was no much difference between the attitudes of those who were educated and those who remained in the outskirts of life, following the path of crime, treachery and superstition.
Inculcating a value system
Hence it is time for us to redefine the purpose of education and formulate new ways and means to achieve the newly set goals. It seems that we have to stop being crazy about the Intelligent Quotient because it is not mere intelligence that makes a man perfect.
Youngsters should be prompted to leave aside their slogan of easy money and embrace a new ideal which would help them understand their fellow beings and thus emerge as better enlightened individuals.
A plausible answer is compulsory value education. There are schools where a few periods are set aside for value education every week. But this is almost impractical in government school set up. Most educators confine themselves to a few well-known and thus boring moral stories borrowed from the Panchatantra or The Ramayana or The Bible. Naturally, children remain passive in the class or use that time to solve mathematical or scientific problems. Besides, it is not something that can be learned the way in which one learns C++ or Java. Values are to be imbibed by individuals. This takes place primarily in families.
But these days, children do not derive the required support and guidance from their home because of the characteristic social set up. Hence it becomes one of the most important responsibilities of the educational institutions to inculcate an effective value system as part of the formal education in addition to enabling the students secure a seat for the professional course.
Head to head interaction
Teachers handling science subjects are more engrossed in activities in a specific direction meant for those subjects which have nothing to do with the real self of the individual. Thus it becomes very difficult for them to interact with the soul of the student. Between them and the students 99% of the communication is taking place from head to head.
There is no question of subjectivity in the case of learning facts and scientific principles. They exercise principles of cold logic for which warmth of the heart is undesirable. Objectivity, the highly acclaimed parameter advocated by science makes people dry and detached. Avoiding subjectivity indirectly advocates avoiding individuals and the inherent qualities and emotions of the individuals. But human character always prefers to be subjective while we loath the repulsion generated by objectivity.
Role of language teachers
It is observed that the language teachers are given a secondary position in the teaching community. Languages appear to be apparently easy. To some extent it is true too. To study languages, students need not spend more time as in the case of Mathematics or Science. Language teachers take advantage of the passive tendency of students and by ad by they begin to explore avenues other than teaching.
It is rightly said that attitude and ideology of the future generation is being decided in the class rooms. So to say, whether a society which blindly follows the principles of hollow materialism is to be evolved or not is decided by the teachers. Let the science teachers continue with their experiments ensuring material prosperity for the coming generations. But the language teachers have to take care of more serious questions of life. Mere material prosperity will not gratify the finest desires inherent in us.
The thirst of the soul can be quenched only by deep rooted values of love, kindness and understanding. The vocation of the language teachers thus become that of a spiritual master for the students. It is a pity that language teachers who are at liberty to talk about human life forgets (is compelled to forget?) this great responsibility s/he can take up more effectively than anyone else.
Purpose of language
The business appeal of English language has reached its peak these days. Study of English has deteriorated to the level of functional or business English now-a-days. The lessons selected for the text books show that their purpose is something else other than developing a creative sensibility of the language. Experts behind the curriculum frame work may argue that the text is merely a medium to exercise and develop the various skills in language learning. Thus more and more translations and dry and boring works of very ordinary writers are finding place in the prescribed text books followed by the CBSE, universities and other boards. Naturally these lessons put out the spark of interest in the young minds and gradually they detest text books.
On the contrary study of language should provide ample chance for exploration of human life from various angles. In other words, it should be a search for one’s own identity in the back drop of a world view. It should help the student become a balanced individual capable of maintaining stability at the odd moments of life.
Challenge past solutions
Science has explored the world outside to a considerable extent, but the world within still remains as an enigma. Religion and spirituality may help one in revealing the intricacies of this world within, but one should be so inclined. It remains a challenge beyond solutions before the educationists. Here springs up the role of the language teacher who can easily and effectively handle the said challenge because for him/her the material consists of human life in all its possible forms. Ours is an age of unrest and insecurity and the youth lacks in proper guidance and orientation in this regard since the formal education system has not yet ventured to address this problem in a systematic manner.
Actually this lack of orientation and the resultant unawareness of one’s own self is the root cause of all political and sociological problems ranging from corruption to nuclear war. We see young boys and girls run blindly after material pleasures and thereby lose their life itself. They have now forgotten to be angry young men who used to burst out at the sight of injustice. Instead they easily become prey to injustice everywhere.
A new morality and sensibility are to be evolved and the language teachers should happily take up the responsibility. It is not merely the quality of pronunciation or the accent that a language teacher should concentrate upon as most of us do these days. Teaching and learning of languages in schools and colleges should transform into a sublime process through which the student understand and redefine himself / herself.
(The writer is an English teacher at JNV Mysore.)