With Teachers’ Day round the corner, we ponder over the question ‘why isn’t teaching an attractive career option?’ especially with all the perks that PRASANNA SRINIVASAN seems to have enjoyed.
“What the teacher is is more important than what he teaches,” said American psychiatrist Karl Augustus Menninger. Rather true isn’t it? Thinking back about our own school days, we might not remember those lessons that were taught, but most of us might remember that one teacher who had been an inspiration, a role model, a source of kindness and love. And now, Teachers’ Day is round the corner and it is time again to remember all those teachers who helped us build confidence in ourselves and in some ways helped us realise our dreams.
It is September 5, Dr. Radhakrishnan’s birthday, that is being celebrated as Teachers’ Day. So, what is it about teaching that most countries have a day dedicated for teachers and not for many other professions? It is not just about teaching the subjects, but it is about the values one imparts along with the subject that makes teaching so special. A good teacher is almost a second mommy for a kindergartener, a role model for an elementary child, a friend and a guide for a higher secondary student. American President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Teach the children so that it is not necessary to teach the adults.”
True to every word isn’t it? That’s what drew me towards teaching and the Montessori way of teaching to be very specific. Being a journalist before becoming a teacher, I was able to reach out to people through words, but teaching gave me the opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life in more direct yet subtle manner. For me, teaching was my way of offering something back to society.It was indeed an honour when a four-year-old in my class came and gave a scrap of paper with a drawing of something resembling me and her and a “hapiteechersde” (Happy Teachers’ Day) written on it. It was one of her first written work. Of course, it took me a while to decipher but that was my first year of teaching and it made me think of the effort that went into it.
Being a Montessori elementary teacher, I teach all the subjects, and so I had taken a lesson on types of angles for a group of eight-year-olds and the following week the same group had a lesson on arrangement of leaves in a plant. We were looking at the plants in the garden and classifying the arrangements, while a child from the group came and told me, “This is alternate arrangement of leaves just like the alternate angles” — for me that moment when she connected geometry to botany was one of the proudest moments of my teaching career. There will be similar instances for many teachers like me that make them feel every day and every effort is worth it.
Yet, it is not every day that you find a recent graduate wanting to pursue teaching, what with the entire emotional quotient added to it; it is still not a attractive career. But being a teacher means each day is a new day and each year is a fresh start. So you never get those mid career blues or into the “what am I doing with my life” syndrome. When I am reading a book or doing a simple math, I sometimes stop by to thank my teacher who taught me to count and to read, which, to be frank, I never did during my school days nor do I remember the teacher. Now that’s one of the downside of teaching. A good teacher seldom gets thanked at the right time. Especially if you are a primary teacher, you will have to shed a lot of ego, when a six-year-old comes up and says, “I learnt it all by myself”, when all along you know that you were the one running behind him to get the concept into his head. But there is pride in it too.
Apart from the oft heard drawback of plummeting pay scales, the work pressure, ensuring the students perform well, ever present correction of homework and answer sheets, tolerating those dear back benchers who always seem to think they are smarter, makes it a less attractive career option. At the end of the day, however, it is all about passion and job satisfaction. May be a better pay scale will make all the difference and put teaching high on the career map. Having something like exchange programme wherein teachers also get to travel like software engineers might attract more youngsters.
Also, giving an identity called educators and offering discounts in education-related places might be an added incentive to consider teaching. But looking at the brighter side of it all, not many professions offer a month of paid holiday, weekends off and a shut shop by 4.00 p.m., isn’t it?
We asked celebrities about their favourite teachers and a few youngsters on their career choices. Here’s what they had to say.
There were two teachers who made a huge difference in my life. The first being Devaki ,a teacher in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Wellington, Tamil Nadu. And the second was Maureen Guy, a teacher at International School Lusaka, Zambia. Co-incidentally they were both my maths teachers. And the way they taught the subject made me love math. I went on to graduate in maths! - GUL PANAG, actor
There are two of them actually. One was my English teacher Ms. Soans. Most of the students were fond of her because she was pretty and she carried herself so well and made studying fun. I felt I learnt a lot about self confidence and to be completely uninhibited on stage. And another was my math teacher Grace. I was just in awe of her because of her intelligence and I actually took a big liking for math. I learnt how to maintain a balance between academics and having a good time. - TRISHA, actor
Uma Prabhakar from The Hindu Senior Secondary School is the teacher who has inspired me the most. She was our English teacher. Draped in crisp cotton saris, her teaching methods were creative. If she was teaching in the next classroom and our class made noise she would come stand at the door and just look. We’d be quiet in a couple of seconds. She was also fun and she spoke excellent English, had gravitas and bearing. She would lead us well and was strict. I think everyone in my school who was fortunate to be in her class were definitely positively influenced by her. - CHINMAYEE, singer
The teacher who has inspired me most is Augustine Paul. He was unlike other teachers and would never discourage me. I can never forget all that he has taught me. He always said that to reach the top you will have to fall and to reach there you will have to overcome all obstacles in life. I use to be very nervous and scared but he taught me the art of being confident and how it’s a team that makes you click. - TANVI SHAH, singer
Teaching is a unique art. It is very easy to learn something but difficult to transfer your knowledge to others. A teacher is a person who possesses this art. I also admire this profession for yet another noble cause. A teacher is not only responsible for the upliftment of an invidual but for the country as a whole. A teacher is one of the most responsible citizens of the country. I truly wish I would be one at least for a day in the future. - GEETHA BHARATHI K., working professional
I would not even consider taking up teaching because of all the tedious things it involves like correcting notebooks and answer sheets, handling students with different aptitudes, it takes a lot of mental strength. There are famous names in every profession like sports, politics and medicine. But when it comes to teaching, there is hardly anyone. The only thing we know about Dr. S. Radhakrishnan is that we get a day off in his name. This shows to youngsters like us that teaching doesn’t earn us much reward or fame. And moreover, the pay is nothing compared to what the corporates pay. - ARUN VIVEK, pursuing CA
Yes, I would take up teaching. I would step into a profession only if I am convinced I am good at it and I can make a positive impact on the student. This is because a teacher has a big impact on the choices a student makes throughout his/her life. As a choice of profession it is not popular because teachers are not paid well in schools and colleges, and also parents pressurise their kids to pursue a professional course which promises a high paying job. Teaching is a noble profession which requires a great amount of dedication, commitment and thorough knowledge of the subject. A person should only take up teaching if he/she is genuinely interested. They contribute a great deal to a student’s likes/dislikes and to an extent, his career choices. So teachers need to be equipped well with all the necessary skills to be good at their job and make a difference. A better pay will also encourage people to take up teaching as a profession. - K. NIVEDITA KRISHNA, pursuing Company Secretaryship
Having studied abroad, I realised the dearth of information and sources of such information in India. This prompted me to actually think about teaching but at a more professional level. Being a graduate in architecture, I would like to impart more technical information that I have gained. At a school level, yes, maybe I would teach but not full-time. I would love to take it up part-time. I think schools should think about roping in industry professionals to actually teach different subjects to help students understand the value of what they are learning in the real world. But if teaching as a profession is not popular, I feel it is because of the pay scale. If the pay is good, I would definitely be tempted to consider it. - SHANMUGA RAJ, architect
Popularity: 1% [?]