Thursday, November 26, 2020

Losing relevance

For most of us, the best place of learning was the classroom. The one where teachers dissected everything to brasstacks and made us imbibe unknown and invisible truths. The glory of classroom revolved around the teacher who shoved the whole class into new realms of knowledge and wisdom. The person whose insight unraveled the best lessons of life to his pupils! Henry Adams wrote, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Incredibly true! However, the once decisive element in the classroom seems reduced to irrelevance. Times have changed. They say so. How much and whence — it’s an arduous question. The pace of life has accelerated, leaving out many things behind. Fastness has crept into every sphere. Fast results, fast bucks and fast success: the mantra of fast age has generally eroded the value-concepts and rendered them anachronistic. Today teachers have lost their grace, charm and reverence. He is no longer considered mighty as it used to be. Every now and then people are seen gossiping about the teachers. Every discussion revolves round a teacher. They have become the target; they are being mocked and ridiculed for not taking their profession seriously. It is even said that teachers themselves don’t have enough knowledge to impart to the students. May be, in some cases it can be true. Not all, but there can be few who may not be able to do justice to their job. But who is responsible? Is it the teacher? One of the particular causes for relegating the role of a teacher to triviality is the introduction of new methods of teaching which are self-instructive and self-explanatory. The use of innovative technology like Internet and other electronic sources has also contributed in minimizing the importance of classroom. To some extent, the deluge of information available (a kind of information explosion) has robbed the status of a teacher as a ‘knowledge bank’. And then, the vast exposure to real life experiences brings the finest lessons home. Learners are more receptive to practical happenings than the pedagogic credo. It holds more water in present times than the good olden days when life was less fallacious and fidgety, and consequently, experiences were usually humanizing and not sharply hurting. In a way, it can be supposed that the best classroom today is the world. Maybe that’s why innovative American poet Cummings remarked that the ‘hardest battle is to be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else.’ In a world that conspires every moment to kill your individuality and tease you to hell, the serious lessons dawn gradually. The brutal pretence of competition and the dogged survival of the fittest makes every minute a tutoring moment. The self-promotional exercises and the self-seeking associations mature you to rationality. Harsh face of humankind and ugly side of affairs make our learning an “effortless” effort! Pupils go past their teacher in terms of practicalities of training. All, which is bookish and “ideal”, simmers down to matter-of-fact routine realities. In a changed scenario, teacher can at best make his pupil aware that they are the actual agents of change, and have the potential to make a difference in the society they live in. The times have come to go beyond ‘teach style’ of pedagogy. Inspiring self-distrust, a true teacher has to even defend his pupils against his own personal influence. Moreover, the real zing is wearing off. Teachers have lost it. They are there just by the stroke of chance. Lack of dedication and solemn sense of commitment is a thing of yore, remotely belonging to them. They have badly treated the honour of being a teacher and the aura of teaching. Rare exceptions apart, a whole lot of present teachers hardly deserve to be ‘teachers’. With little understanding of their job, they criminally play with the future of the nation: their pupil. More into getting fat salaries and other privileges, they do not update themselves in tune with the changing trends of instructional methods. The honesty of purpose is possibly at the root of this malaise inflicting many teachers. Perhaps, they reflect the general malady of the society they belong to. They can’t be expected to work wonders, after all!