Teach, but listen too...

In a few days’ time, the nation will celebrate Teacher’s Day. It’s that one day of the year, when most Indians get all sentimental and hit rewind modes, as they recall contributions made by teachers in their lives. The rest of the time, it’s back to their board rooms, as the blackboard days are all but forgotten.

As sane society is coming to terms and is grappling with shocking rulings and a lax system, where crimes against women make for daily column space in newspapers, it’s important that we take into account the pivotal role that teachers play in opinion building among individuals in those formative years. A teacher might have consciously or otherwise played a positive, significant role -- judgment calls, liberal thinking, gender sensitisation, and often, coming across as the out-of-the-box thinker amid a suppressed education system. Most of us, yours truly included, were lucky to have encountered at least one such teacher, who made that difference. Looking back, it might have been a simple chat, a no-holds barred debate or a refreshingly fair dialogue about the rights, wrongs and everything in between. It mattered, nevertheless and remained etched for life. At this point, one is reminded of two teacher-inspired films: To Sir with Love and Remember the Titans. While the former, a Sidney Poitier classic hit the right chord in a hopeless classroom scenario, the later, a Denzel Washington gem, used the sporting arena to drive home a point about creating a colour-less society in America. Both were able to portray the unbelievable extent to how a single individual could make a difference to society.

Now, more than ever before, with all that’s been unfolding in our society -- especially when the age for committing heinous acts including those against women gets lower, it becomes doubly crucial for today’s teachers to be in sync with this fast-changing socio-economic fabric. With every generation, and these days, even three years represents a shift, come diverse challenges, new questions, less patience and minds that are exposed to new things, and experiences in micro-seconds. It’s absolutely vital that teachers in this era come equipped with the right tools and skill sets to face this generation -- a generation that might not necessarily be in the mood to be ‘taught’ but one that needs to be heard.

It’s a generation that seems to be in a tearing hurry. Yet, if a teacher can help mould a student through words and actions during those vital hours spent in school or college, it might go a long way, in the bigger picture of his/her life span.

Good luck to this less-hailed band of individuals who have a tough task ahead to mould India’s young minds.

-- The writer is Features Editor, MiD DAY 

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