He who can, does
He who cannot, teaches.
G.B Shaw mocked the time-honored profession of teaching. In the era of globalization when every asset is valued in terms of its marketability we are bound to think of the credibility of the thought. What is it that has made the venerable bond of seeker and imparter of knowledge fall from its pedestal? I came to think of it only when I chose academics/teaching as a profession. On the first day of my lecture a student asked me why I have chosen teaching as a profession when there are other better options available to me. I smiled with a ready consecutive question: why not teaching? Why compare it? Yet, the truth remains. I did not have an answer to the question and if there was any, I chose to leave it unresolved.
Teaching as profession remains unattractive to many. It engages either those especially women who are looking for an easily manageable, part time jobs or to senior citizens, the great men of intellect, who wish to share their life long experience and knowledge with the younger generation.
It is often taken for granted that teachers are failed individuals. The mushrooming coaching centers that have made education a business have added fuel to the fire. When the best of Government colleges boast of IIT/IIM alumni teaching at their universities you’ll hear students ask “what on earth are they doing here?” Students often have an ‘I know better’ attitude towards their professors/teachers. No harm in that if one genuinely thinks so, it may happen at times, but the problem is they apply it everywhere, to everyone, all the time. They are prejudiced to begin with.
The challenges put forward by teaching profession are known to few. Teaching is not, as many believe, preparing students for exams but preparing them for life. It is not helping students making them aware of rights and wrongs, dos and don’ts but inculcating in them the faculty to be able to do it themselves. It is not a propaganda where beliefs, tradition, facts are made to be accepted unanimously, be it science, religion or a political opinion but a freedom of development. It is not cloistering individuals in the panorama of the canonical texts without giving purposeful insight to their usefulness but helping them make their own canons. It is not binding a student to the clutches of tangible knowledge but raising him to self-enlightenment, a blessing (atma dipav bhava) sages gave to their choicest students. It is not a rigorous practice to make individuals mimicking parrots but what Emerson called Thinking Individuals.
No doubt the standard of education is deteriorating in our country. People today are in search of more productive professions leaving the chairs in many universities/colleges vacant. The Government is doing little to fill the vacant seats at the state and central universities. So much so that many government, private and government aided colleges are run solely on the basis of part time lecturers/guest faculties who are not even qualified enough for the post they hold.
What is Government doing to combat the problem? Opening more and more universities? But where are the resources? Where are the teachers? Emphasis should be first paid to qualitative education. Even if we are able to have 100 percent literacy, how many of the educated lot are actually competent enough to change their own lives? What use is such education if it only teaches you to earn a living, rest all gone to the garbage?
When I talk to the villagers, the so called uneducated, illiterate lot, i discover every time how they are so much better in IQ, reasoning though they may not know how to read and write. I discover every time how our education system is failing us.