By JAVEID HASSAN MALIK
It is very hard to define a good teacher but going as per conventional definitions, “a good teacher is someone who inspires his/her students to aspire big in life, who increases the thirst in his students for learning new things. Now, in an era of ICT (Information, Communication and Technology) where smart classes have taken over traditional classrooms, black boards are getting replaced with projectors and books with eBooks and much more but the fact remains that unfortunately our teachers have not metamorphosed into smart teachers in an era when the role of teacher has been overshadowed by technology. Now students are no longer wholly dependent on their teachers for lessons; now everything is just a click away; one can simply click on the internet and it will open new horizons of knowledge around the globe for a person.
A student living in the remotest corner of Kashmir can listen to online lectures of a professor from MIT. But still, all this does not rule out the role of t the teacher in the learning process but it has simply modified his/her role in new dimensions . In the new era, teachers have to act like caretakers who need to nurture the talent of their students in a well desired manner just like a gardener in garden who nourishes and tends his seedlings by fertilizing and irrigating these at proper times and in an organised way till it reaches to stage of a sapling. In the same manner, our teachers need to turn this double-edged sword called technology into a tool for innovation and motivation in teaching learning process.
Courtesy technology, the gap between teachers and students has narrowed; now they don’t meet only in classroom but technology has made teacher accessible 24/7 for students. Therefore, our students and teachers are more familiar about each other’s private lives than ever in the history of teaching. This familiarity, however, breeds contempt and teachers don’t get the same respect from students what they desire. The gap of unfamiliarity which made teacher divine like characters has been overcome by technology; our teachers no longer have that charisma which made students frighten and change their ways on seeing a teacher passing by. Nowadays, teachers and students shake hands, share hugs and their share lunch, crack jokes virtually on Facebook and in reality.
Now take an example of our coaching centres; everyday is the day of festivity and celebrations. In our coaching centres especially, those meant for primary classes where our pampered kids study, our kids are no longer interested in celebrating their birthdays with their family members. Instead, a new trend has developed where our kids prefer to cut cakes in coaching centres in the presence of their teachers serving as chief guests who tastes the first bit of the cake like Bollywood movie stars and poor students are made to do clap on these occasions and then pictures are uploaded on social networking sites thus every private thing becomes public. Wrong precedents are being set wherein every student tries to follow it to avoid inferiority complex in class miss freebies in the form of gifts on such occasions.
The paradox is that while our teacher is preaching his/her students about the ill effects of social networking sites while he/she is himself advertising his Facebook (fakebook} id address on posters which are attached in every nook and cranny of a given locality. There are personal WhatsApp groups for selected and chosen students with the teacher as admin and every damn thing except knowledgeable things are discussed. Thus, the , next day students instead of discussing topics they had read yesterday gossip about what food their sir was having in the dinner, which movie sir was watching post dinner, it goes on and on.
Our classrooms have turned into newsrooms, teaching is no longer a dialogue between teacher and students to understand things but a monologue of teacher with students having morphed into robots who respond only when asked which often turns them into” yes sir yes sir” machines even if the teacher is wrong. The reason is that our teachers have become slaves of Google. If they encounter any question or issue in class, instead of searching books for answers, the teachers Google it. Now, our smart students know that their teachers are copy cats of Google so they find it convenient to ask Google than the teacher who is himself/ herself subservient to Google.
The time has come when our teachers need to change themselves as per the situation. Instead of banning and blaming technology like Smartphones, they have to turn this technology into a tool by using it judiciously and advising students to use this double-edged sword for good.
—The author holds a Master’s in Chemistry and NET/ SLET qualified. He can be reached at: [email protected]