By Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
Sarvepalli Radhakrishn was born on 5th September, 1888, at Tiruttani 40 miles to the northwest of Madras. His early life was spent in Tiruttani and Tirupoti, both places of pilgrimage. Because of that possibly he was attracted to religion from early life. He had his education in Christian missiory institutions. Gradually he became well-versed in both religion and philosophy of Hinduism and Christianity. Afterwards he tried to reconcile the thoughts of the eastern and western thinkers and he was aptly called the a bridge-builder between the East and the West.
Radhakrishn was a great philosopher, writer of repute and a man of deep insight. His first book, “Ethics of Vedanta” was published in 1908, when he was only twenty. His life can be cited as a grand success story. In 1909 he was appointed a teacher of philosophy in Madras Presidenery College. In 1918 he was appointed professor of philosophy in the new University of Mysore. In 1921 he was offered the most important chair of philosophy in India, which is king George V chair of mental and moral philosophy in the University of Calcutta. In 1926 he was invited to Oxford to deliver Upton Lectures on Hindu View of Life. After that many teaching and lecture assignments abroad came to him one after the other. He was given the Spaulding chair of the Oxford University and because of his power of oration, his reputation spread far and wide. All kinds of honour were showered on him in quick succession. He took over the responsibilities of a professor, a Vice Chancellor, an Ambassador, the Vice- president of India and filly the responsibilities of the highest office that India could offer, that of the President of the Indian Union.
Above all Radhakrishn was one of the greatest teachers India has ever produced and it is only right that his birth day should be celebrated as “Teachers Day”. So on September 5 each year a grateful tion pays homage to the builders of the tion. But unfortutely the gratitude lasts for a day only and for the rest of the year they remain a forgotten species. On this very important day gifts, flowers and other titbits are showered on them like confetti and they are over whelmed by all these bursts of affection and admiration. Actually the teachers are more used to brickbats than bouquets of flowers. Only on the “Teachers Day” the teachers are put on a pedestral and turally it is extremely exciting and gratifying to be recognized in such a big way. In various educatiol institutes they are felicitated; but the bonhomie lasts only for that day and then they are back where they were before. May be, that is the way things go in the present era, when superficiality reigns without an iota of sincerity and for that we cannot blame anybody. But stll that one day’s adulation is worth a lifetime of drudgery.
In actual fact the teachers are a controversial lot; they are eulogized as the builders of the tion and they are also condemned as a bunch opportunists, grabbing money at the cost of innocent students. Society is a chockfull of contradictions when it comes to the role teachers play in the educatiol scerio. They are glorified as the noble people, who have keys to the windows of the mind and at the same time they are looked down with contempt and dismissed as another breed of merchants, who sell their knowledge (not often good quality) at an enormous price and who play havoc with the lives of students. They are respected, feared, loved and hated.
Broadly speaking the teachers are the builders of the tion and they shape the character of the future citizens. Hence in an important sense the teachers may be called the destiny- makers. They help in bring out the potential of the children by giving them a nudge here and there. A good teacher relates to the student and helps him to achieve his goal through thick and thin. His role is not confined to the class room, but it spreads beyond school hours. A teacher is born and not made. So he remains a teacher throughout his life, even after his retirement. Undeniably his profession is one of the best; without his guidance the children would forever live in darkness, deprived of even a gleam of light.
Society recognizes the importance and value of the teaching profession, yet few want their children to grow up and take the teaching profession. And to be fair, even the teachers do not ever want their own children to take up their profession. On the ‘Teachers Day’ society eulogize the teachers, get lyrical about their wonderful performance, but at the same do not have the least interest in them.
Once in India, the teachers or ‘gurus’ as they were called, were venerated by all sections of people from the lowest to the highest. They were regarded as the founts of wisdom, kindness and spirituality. They had simple life style, dedicated to the welfare of humanity. After some time the venerated teachers fell down from the pedestral, and being bogged down by poverty it was only tural that they became demoralized. They were treated with veiled contempt and indifference by society. No wonder that the teachers became frustrated and disillusioned. Of course the situation has changed for much better in the present age. They draw a handsome salary. Yet in this age of inflation they may think that the salary is not enough to keep them in luxury. They have realized that it is money that rules the society and consequently some of them are trying to supplement their income by private tuition, which has been regarded as indispensable for the success of the students by most of the parents. Many people frown upon this money-grabbing instinct of the teachers and castigate them. But can you wonder at it? The teachers have tasted proverty and have realized that society measures you by the yardstick of your bank balance. They have also realized that it does not really help to “keep high aspirations, moderate expectations and small needs”. They have to make hay while the sun shines. For them “simple living and high thinking” is a myth.
It is nice and refreshing to think that one takes up teaching for the nobility of the profession and you feel quite proud of the fact that there are still people who want to do the noble work in a world obsessed with social status and material gains. But many of those who are already in the profession regard the choice as a kind of achronic decision. That is why they never encourage or want their children to go for the profession, as they know that society only lends lip service and they have very little opinion of a teacher. Hence most of the teachers regard the job as entirely thankless.
Very brilliant students never want to take up teaching as a profession; even mediocre students opt for it as a last resort and they keep their options open. turally, you cannot expect dedication from such ‘temporary’ teachers, who use the profession as a stopgap.
The teacher’s job, contrary to popular belief, is not an easy one. A good teacher is expected to put lots of hard work into study. Teaching in over-populated class room is an unhappy and hard task. Woeful lack of educatiol facilities in certain schools have pushed the teachers to desperation. turally those teachers, who want to give their best to the students, feel frustrated. In some schools the magement do not give even a globe or an atlas to supplement geography lessons. The science teacher has to give theoretical lessons without any equipment to generate even a spark of interest the students. The dream of a teacher to get more effective educatiol equipment is rarely fulfilled. Little kids are not taught alphabets and numbers through games, which are fun. Instead they have to struggle with books and lessons, which bore them to tears. Due to the absence of adequate facilities the teacher’s performance gets lackluster, which does not impress the students in the least. But we cannot blame the teachers for their limitations, since they do not get the proper environment to demonstrate their skill.
The teaching career is considered to be uttractive and not even a whit of glamour is attached to it. Such an attitude has been nourished by the government’s consistently myopic education policy. In its plans for education it has never had any notion of attracting brilliant people to the teaching profession in its agenda. That is why most of the men are looking for jobs with status, money and glamour, leaving the teaching profession to women.
Whatever may be the defects in the educatiol system, we cannot blame the teachers for that. Rather it is the fault of the society, which can not look beyond its nose. We all know that money-spinning and manipulation have become the me of the game. It is the fault of the age we live in which quality has been ignored and society has gone for the extreme form of gross hedonism. It is only tural that under such circumstances the teachers lost some where their high ideals. But we must not forget that even in this age you may find some teachers, who are still thriving to achieve their ideals and have been making sincere attempts to shape the future generation of our great country, and make them worthy citizens. We should remain eterlly grateful to these dedicated teachers with small purses, but large hearts.
In the modern kind of education we notice that teachers hardly know their students. In fact some of them do not even know the mes of half of their students. And the students forget all about them the moment they step out of their class rooms. But without a close and intimate relationship the teacher cannot bring out the best in the students. If they consider the matter, the teacher- student relationship is one of the closest relations that can be conceived. Hence it is very important for the teacher to get persolly (and not only officially) acquainted with his students. He should not be an object of fear, but a person to love.
We must acknowledge our debt to the teachers, who have done their utmost to build up a strong and great tion. It is for their untiring efforts that the country has made such enormous progress in every field. On this auspicious occasion of “Teachers Day”. We pay our homage to the builders of the tion and to that great intellectual and philosopher, Radhakrishn.