Teach to inspire…

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It was the period after interval. The music period, for which every kid eagerly awaited. “This boy punched me, that boy kicked me and I was called names…” would be the cacophony of complains that reverberated in Miss. Sircar’s class. Probably, we all loved renting out our anguish in her period simply because she loved hearing us out. And not just that, she, like some Panchayat sabha would even try to settle the matter by finding out who was right and wrong. The period ended with the culprits shaking hands with each other and all would be friends once again. But today, my daughter informs me that when she approached her teacher to discuss a small problem, the teacher said, “Sit down first. Come later with your problem.” And sadly, that never happened.

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Like it or not, let’s face the bitter fact that we have moved far ahead of the traditional guru shishya parampara, which was like a trademark of Indian educational methodology at one time. We have left behind the culture which emphasized that teachers are our second parents and school, a second home. Children wake up to a morning with the stress of travelling an hour to reach their schools, with the worry of not submitting a project which was to be done by their parents and with the heavy thought of coping with the assignments given by their coaching institutes which will give over at 8 pm, that they have forgotten to smilingly wish their parents a good morning. The long and boring school assemblies are further going to squash the little energy they groped with and perhaps put them off for the whole day. No wonder when the teacher wishes them, “Good morning,” there is no reply. In present times, where dummy schools are mushrooming and coaching institutes on the other hand are considered to be a hot spot for most kids who are aspiring to realize their big dreams in engineering and medicine, the role of a school as well as that of a teacher is getting constricted and strained. Very often, in school assemblies the Principal has to repeat his morning greetings after failing to get a response to a ‘Good morning’ said over the microphone.

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Teaching has become mundane just like any other profession. With small sized classrooms and overcrowded students, the teacher finds ‘less room’ ironically. A handful number of students show genuine interest and inquisitiveness towards learning. Contrary to this, today’s classrooms are grossly occupied with children less focused, easily prone to distraction and talkativeness resulting out of their restless and hyper sensitivity, finding the teachers’ lecture method highly outdated and senseless, compared to their updated knowledge and understanding they acquire from the internet.
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I heard this interesting story of the cap seller and monkeys, at a teachers’ training seminar conducted by Fr. Jose Philip. It is worth recalling this story which apparently has a sequel.

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The version we all grew listening to, has the hat seller waking up from his nap to find all his caps worn by monkeys atop trees. Despite all his abusive yelling and stoning, he was unable to retrieve his stock. Only when he flung his own cap on the ground, did all the monkeys throw their caps below. The cap seller gathered all his caps and smilingly continued his journey. He had learnt a lesson. Let us not undermine the lesson also learnt by the monkey clan alongside. Realizing they were tricked by the clever cap seller, they hoped he would return and pass by their forest another time. But the clever cap seller never made another similar mistake of carelessly napping. Years later, probably a generation later, the cap seller’s son traversed the same route and rested for an hour. Waking up, the young lad was taken aback to spot his bag empty. He remembered his father’s mistake and quickly found the remedy by flinging his cap on to the ground. Shockingly, not a single cap came down. He impatiently repeated his action over and over again in vain. Frustrated, he collapsed to the ground. Suddenly, a tiny little monkey tugged him and whispered, “Our parents informed us about a person like you who cleverly fooled them and got back all the caps from their heads. We are known for our ‘monkey tricks’. You should have known us by now!”

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Today, all of us are living in a world where everything is ‘smart’. From cellphones to televisions, from CCTV to net banking, from digital information to accessing the very latest, everyone is updated and smart. Students are surely not coming to school to receive a lesson being taught in lecture method. Smart kids of the 21st century probably have access to the very latest information and technology with which even a traditional teacher might not be aware of. The teaching fraternity today has a larger challenge to meet, a more scientific mind to deal with and probably a highly complex mind to nurture. The responsibility and accountability of a teacher is more inclined and crucial than it was ever before. The time has come for teachers to upgrade and match the ‘monkey tricks’ of the smart kids of this generation.

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Fr. Wilzbacher, an American teacher taught us English in Class XII. He took time to read every word of our answers which were soaked with sloppy grammar, incorrect spellings and poor expression. He also took pains to write in red ink what the correct word or sentence should be, facilitating us to understand our errors. Apparently today, notebooks of students have to be checked so speedily, else the teacher will never be able to finish off notebook corrections for the day. At times, to save time and mounting pressure, the teachers simply put their initials without even caring to read a word.

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A good teacher teaches, a better teacher illustrates while the best teacher inspires. Today’s league of students is not merely looking up to a teacher for sheer mentoring but is searching for a relatively practical, rational, logically intelligent and motivational personality in a teacher. Bookish knowledge is freely available online. Preparations for competitive examinations are being taken care of by coaching institutes. Schools and teachers are getting misty as dummy schools are running alongside.

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In such a bleak scenario, it becomes mandatory for teachers to self- evaluate themselves and take a peep into the features of becoming professionals who function graphically and vibrantly to transform their traditional teaching styles to more creative and illustrative methodologies.

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Arpan Singhal, of Class X was a brilliant student but hardly interacted with his teachers in class. The timid looking teenager, however, admired the diction of his English teacher and wished he could also have a fairly good command over the language. Motivated by his teacher, Arpan gradually became a voracious reader and two years later launched his novel, ‘Selection Heroes: Rise of the Dark Cult’ on Amazon.com.

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Gone are the days when kids showed fear and ultimate discipline before a teacher with ‘Hitler attributes’. Today, this trait will call for an FIR and police complaint as CBSE and other boards have banned corporal punishments. Knowing this, overall discipline management has become a concern. How does a teacher control indiscipline? How is misbehavior or disrespect addressed? How are issues like irregularity or poor performance dealt with? Such questions boggle school authorities. What is the new definition of strictness? A raised voice and glaring look can send a timid student into depression. Raising the hand is out of the question. Can the teacher still instill discipline or be authoritative among students without getting harsh and mean?

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The image of a teacher is grim. Just like a corrupt police officer who gets mauled in Bollywood, the teacher is a vulnerable being. Certain reports of physical and sexual abuse by teachers have undoubtedly tarnished the image of a teacher. It is shameful that on the one hand teachers are synonymous with parents and on the other, some of their deeds can be deplorable.

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Thousands of students graduate from their alma matar every year carrying the impressions of most of their teachers for the rest of their lives, which is quite common. At alumni meets, usually ‘teachers’ occupy the foreground of their discussions. They would jibe at the ones who made their lives miserable for good or bad reasons. But there will be small a mention of a good teacher in their conversation. They will be reminiscent of the forgiving teacher with a kind face who gave them another chance to make amends. They would regard the one who encouraged them or put them on stage even though they lacked self- confidence. They would express gratitude for that one teacher, who spoke to them outside class, in the corridor instead of demeaning them in front of their friends. They would remember the name of the teacher who taught them something besides the subject. They would recall the name of a friendly and sporty teacher who remembered their name much after passing out school.

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I had never been on stage till I had reached Class VI. I always wanted to participate in a play at school level. I was unable to take lead roles as I was not good at learning lengthy dialogues. My dad requested my class teacher to give me a small role, so that I just a chance to get on to stage. Mrs. Tankha was kind enough to lend me a small part. All my inhibitions faded away and I realized I could put up a decent act.

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Being a language teacher, I keep finding ways to ask children to submit projects innovatively. I realized most children are online these days. I shared in my class something about blogging. I was surprised to know that 75% of the class had never heard this term before. I encouraged them to write anything creative and original, never mind if it was a one liner, a two stanza poem that does not rhyme, an imaginary story or a weird experience. It seemed pretty motivating. One bright kid raised his hand inquisitively and darted out, “Sir, do you blog?” I was quite prepared for this query. I gave the class my blog address and invited them to read some of the contents. The following day, a few reported to me what they read in my blog while a few others mentioned that they were developing content to trigger their new blogs.

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The teacher today must acquire greater skills and tact besides simply imparting information or subject content. The teacher ought to be a leader who directs students into a world of independent thought, mindless of orthodox and stereotype learning. A new challenge must ignite a teacher to charge the brilliance of a kid with a fire that kindles other fires. Braced with youthful energy, the teacher needs to penetrate the young and questioning mind of the present generation with full supply of updated knowledge and information which will make classes more exciting and interactive.

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Students need collaborators who understand them better and not misunderstand them easily. Today’s toddlers will be post graduates and then professionals. The learning they received from their parents and later on from teachers at schools and colleges will certainly go a long way in defining their plan of action to fight for justice, for human equality and strive for excellence and success empowering every citizen to function towards nation building. Whether they become doctors, engineers, politicians, business or corporate heads, artists, bankers or philosophers, they will be mindful of the morals and values that went into making them righteous and responsible citizens of the country. Future leaders of India will emerge from the classrooms of today. If teachers claim to be stakeholders in the academic industry, then they can surely be referred to as LEADERS who are doing their bit, small or big, in shaping a country with bright minded and positive leadership. If a teacher has been able to inspire even one student, I am confident the job we do is fully justified and rewarding.12

Over the past 26 years that I have been  teaching, I feel that  I am learning everyday. The youthfulness of children and their vibrant inquisitiveness and effervescent smiles is a power filled fuel to energize any kind of monotony.

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25 thoughts on “Teach to inspire…

  1. Happy teacher’s day! Greetings and good wishes to you. Indeed a mind blowing article. It sums up all necessary details and gives a thought to us teachers to be inspirational all the time. We need to think of better enjoyable lessons too .

    Liked it!

    Love always. baby

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am left with no words after reading the whole story presented by Melven sir.
    Melven sir has once again shown that how open he is towards his stdents , whether passed out or being taught by
    What I have observed since the past three years that sir loves to live the moment. His work speaks volumes of hard work and affection towards his hobbies. I have never seen him ask What to do now?

    The meaning of his first name means *chief* in Irish & I think it suits him. Whatever he starts becomes a master of it . I list a few eg. below of his perfect work
    1)Calligraphy. Writting all the sports day certificates.
    2) Photography
    3) Painting
    If I start telling about his works I think ill write a book named :The Chief.

    Sir very rightly said that the students have started thinking that they are much more knowledgeable than the teacher standing in front of them. Sir I know what it feels like to a person like you who is so dedicated and open towards the students, I can guarantee that when these students graduate they will feel ashamed & regret what they did, leaving a few.
    As far as checking the notebook’s & answer sheets I agree with you but, yes some teachers follow the same old tradition , including you also if something takes time let it but it should be smooth and final. Sir I assure you one day all these students will come back to learn something which they missed when they were being taught.

    In the end I would say respect your teachers , anyone elder to you & not forgetting the small kids & be a person who works silently without anyone knowing about it.
    Tomorrow being Teacher’s day I wish sir happy teacher’s day and to all other teacher’s.

    Regards

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Braced with youthful energy, the teacher needs to penetrate the young and questioning mind of the present generation with full supply of updated knowledge and information which will make classes more exciting and interactive.”
    That’s where I was floored by your article.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am stunned to the point of speechlessness after reading this wonderful article….i loved it so much that I’ve forwarded the link to all my teachers…You are in many ways the most genuine teacher these kids could ever have….keep it going buddy…hats off….!!
    (wish their was “a thousand likes” button somewhere here)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A great article sir!
    Really liked this version of the story of the cap seller and the monkeys…
    The ease and class of your style and your versatility and talents have always inspired me. I want to be like you. The way you taught us English in class 10 propelled me to learn and understand more of it, eventually making me fall in love with it.
    A big thanks to you and all my teachers for helping me grow as a student and hence as a person. Happy teachers day to all!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your writings deeply inspire me Melven Sir. It is impossible to be not enraptured by the yieldings of your brimming instrinsic tallents. Your vagarious interest in various fields inspire your students to achieve greater heights. You have showered the stardust of lessons on the minds of your students that we may never forget. Often we have found ourselves awestruck by the eloquent personality which helps us in vivifying the incandescent beauty that hides beneath the blanket of reluctance. Our hearts leap in elation when we are graced with the knowledge that finally Melven Sir’s class is going to wake us up from the soporific drone of maths and science. You have taught me lessons not by prosaic lectures, but by vivifying it with an experience and it has, indeed, inculcated within me various qualities that I might never have earned. I am not ostentatious as its not in my nature, so I can assure you that anything I have written in not misted by unctuousness. On this note I would like to wish you Happy Teachers Day (although its a little late).
    Your sincere
    Saniya

    P.S.: Sir I would be very grateful if you pay a visit to my first blog. And I would like you to know that its inspired by the official trip to Nevta that we had for conducting the quiz. Please do judge it, for I’ve found no one who would not feel reluctant in telling me my mistakes. The link is below. Thank you.
    https://lostinpagesagain.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/betrayed/?preview=true

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thanks for the credits… may be i don’t deserve so much. And let me commend you at your amazing vocab which surely is very impressive. I surely will visit and read your blog and provide you with an unmisted feedback dear saniya ! best wishes to you for blogging !!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A very nice story sir, I really liked the way you express things, and ya, the blogging idea, well that was something really helpful!!!
    At the end I would just say that having a teacher like you with whom you can interact openly is a gift!!

    Happy teachers day to all!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Read ur article sir…..I haven’t met u personally…but follow u on fb!!Ur artwork and calligraphy skills are outstanding!!Very aptly said about the students of today.They need the guidance and support of teachers like u sir!!I feel what needs to be taught to today’s generation in schools is life skills and moral values,which are almost negligible.We need to enrich them with feelings of empathy…compassion…honesty…gratitude.
    Would love to enroll my son as ur student for enhancing his drawing skills.

    Like

  9. Congratulations for participating Mel. I have noticed you always participate in different things and give it a new creative outlook. God bless your talent. Liked the article which is so true.I learnt so much from you.
    Muaah!

    Like

  10. Melven,
    Sorry for not being able to respond on time. Just went through your poem -‘Falling Leaves’ and the write ups Charity.. and Teach to inspire.
    I tried to put myself in your shoes ( as a writer ). I don’t think I would have been able to match the ideas that you put across even by 10 percent. And the expression was as good as it could be. Pleasant surprise for me even after having known about your caliber before I read the above. See in terms of quantum , we must have had similar experiences, your learnings from them seem to have been more profound.
    More when I read the rest.
    And I’ll like to meet you after I am done with them.
    I don’t understand technicalities ( like metre, etc), so I actually do not know how to appreciate a poem, but ‘Falling..’ strikes an instant chord. And, I could relate to ‘Teach to….’ having been in the profession myself and also having taught my children. But I think, as I said earlier , your ideas framed through experiences are more profound.
    Great work Melven

    Like

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