The opening statement of ‘Education and National Development Report’ says, “The destiny of India is being shaped in her classrooms”. This one sentence clearly emphasises the role and responsibility of teachers in nation building. It puts great onus on the shoulders of teachers in terms of shaping and grooming the personalities of individual students which, in itself, is a gigantic task. One of my senior colleagues at Al-Falah University used to say that, “teaching is one of the most difficult professions in the world”. It is in this backdrop that the author wishes to discuss his idea of a good teacher.
The word ‘TEACHER’, when treated as an acronym, may stand for the following attributes or characteristics:
T?tolerant, talented, trained
C?compassionate, curious, creative
H?hopeful, hard worker, humourous
R?role model, resourceful
Let me share my own understanding about each and every attribute, as mentioned above, in the following paras:
A good teacher tolerates, or rather, accommodates the inter and intra-individual differences among students in terms of their strengths, weaknesses, language, religion, caste, gender etc. He believes that each and every child has the potential to perform up to everyone’s satisfaction, provided that each student enjoys equal educational opportunities at every stage of schooling. A good teacher believes that the primary goal of evaluation (of students) is not to differentiate performer from non-performer but to identify their unique strengths and weaknesses and accordingly school them to help them realise their unique and varied potentials. A good teacher is ready to tolerate the mistakes and other limitations in students because he is trying to capitalise on their individual strengths or abilities in order to help them find success and improvement.
It is generally believed that teaching is an art as well as science. A good teacher is equipped with talent or natural aptitude or skill to meet the challenges of the profession. The teacher polishes his talent through education and training. In other words, it can be stated that professional teacher training and education is one of the vital requirements for becoming a good teacher.
One of the essential characteristics of a good teacher is that he is eloquent or persuasive in expression or communication. By using good expression, he is able to convince the audience. In a multi linguistic classroom situation, a good teacher is multilingual or tries to express himself in the language of his students. Personally speaking, I have seen teachers who know so much about their subject but when it comes to sharing their knowledge with others, they usually struggle.
The elements of accountability, honesty and integrity have a major say in the contribution of teachers to nation building. Accountability is one of the major factors in determining and differentiating the performance of teachers working in public and private sectors in our country. Many surveys will tell you that private schools are performing better than their public counterparts despite the fact that govt teachers are having much better salaries and other incentives as compared to the private teachers. This is because of the fact that private teachers are made to behave or work more responsibly towards their line of duty than their govt counterparts.
Needless to mention here that a good teacher feels accountable towards his line of work. It is pertinent to mention here that unfortunately, the teacher recruiting agencies have not, so far, devised a teaching aptitude/attitude test which will really help them to predict the professional behaviour of teachers once they get recruited in govt schools.
A good teacher feels compassionate towards his students, subject and profession. This loving concern for students helps him to take every pain for the sake of his students in terms of preparing for teaching, for example, before entering the class. He tries his best to field the questions of his students, encourages them to question him back, and so on. A compassionate teacher ends up becoming a mentor for his students. In this context, allow me to talk about one of my own mentors who was my college Zoology teacher way back in 1997 at Amar Singh College, Srinagar, Kashmir.
It was the summer of 1997 when I was part of that Zoology class and I was sitting at the last row, clothed in shalwar kameez with a skull cap on my head. I was reticent and shy of many things around me. The teacher asked me to stand up and answer his question, but I failed to respond positively, or rather, I was completely silent. When the class was over, the teacher asked me to meet him outside the classroom. When I met him, he took me for a cup of tea at the college canteen and tried to know why I had chosen to dress the way I had. He also tried to know about my shy nature.
I found it reinforcing and rewarding that the teacher was giving me personal attention and time, and sometimes a cup of tea. I started opening up and expressing myself freely in front of him. On many occasions he invited me to his home and also visited my home a couple of times. He made me realise that there is something in me which, if properly addressed, can help me climb the ladder of success. He helped me believe in myself and motivated me to pursue further studies in places like AMU and JMI. Whatever I am today, the credit must also go to this compassionate teacher of mine—Dr Haye Sir.
A good teacher is curious and creative as well. He ends up as a life-long learner to upgrade his professional knowledge and also experiments with new teaching approaches and techniques.
A good teacher enjoys a significant degree of optimism, believes in hard work and perseverance, and employs an element of humour in order to make his act of teaching meaningful, interesting, entertaining and eventful. The humour, in fact, introduces an element of entertainment in his teaching which breaks the monotony of the process of teaching and learning. It refreshes the whole classroom environment.
A good teacher is a person of reason who believes in logical thinking, scientific temper and empirical methods of investigation to generate new knowledge and solve the pressing problems of his community. His overall conduct is not affected by the existing superstitions and his decisions reflect fairness, impartiality and justice.
A good teacher is resourceful in terms of meeting (or trying to meet) the academic and non-academic needs of his students and community in general. Last but not the least, a good teacher is a role model for his students especially in terms of inspiring their growth and promoting positive behaviour.
In the light of the above statements, it can be safely concluded that a good teacher stands for tolerance, talent, eloquence, accountability, compassion, curiousness, creativity, optimism, diligence, perseverance, humour, scientific temper, fairness, resourcefulness and inspiration for students.
—The writer is Assistant Professor at Department of Education, Central University of Kashmir. [email protected]