Sometimes there happen fireworks in the mind that take you up to the dazzling embers in the sky one moment and the next bring you down like a diffused damp cracker. These fireworks are of thoughts and more thoughts. I have had a chain of such pyrotechnic thoughts display lately. But I am pretty clueless of putting them into words at this point but since I enjoy it and it gives a kind of perspective to my intellect and emotions, I will attempt it nevertheless.
To begin with, my daughter started her new and mainstream school recently and as expected she and most of her peers in different sections were plunged into a roaring sea of insecurity and weeping sense of loss. The initial couple of days in school were utterly chaotic and overwhelming to say the least. And honestly it is still quite clamorous after two weeks. Howling kids dragged by determined parents isn’t entirely uncommon. But all the parents present there, immediately noticed that one particular class out of the four had settled rather well and with ease by the third day. Luckily, my daughter belongs to this class. So what was their secret? Of course the kids in this class are no more mature, independent or grown up than the rest. And there are no magic tricks. Then obviously it is most definitely the teachers’ credit. These two particular teachers could manage to calm and comfort their disconsolate wards rather effectively and make them listen as well. And it dawned on me that they are exemplary human resource managers with tremendous skills. It takes paramount patience, practice, trust and a gentle authority to rein in a class full of absolute rookie toddler students.
So then I wondered why is the profession of teaching always underscored? Let’s admit it we never look upon teachers as professionals in the same esteemed category as doctors, lawyers, engineers or MBA holders when their role is no less important. Talking of their role, I am reminded of my class XII English teacher, Sister Anita. We live in the Wikipedia age today where every iota of information is at our fingertips or command of our voice. But eighteen years ago, my world was not so savvy or informed. I was still flipping the dictionary and atlas, so back then when Sister Anita introduced us to the amazing compilation called Roget’s Thesaurus, I was simply astounded. I might sound oh so obtuse but I didn’t even know that such a thing existed. However, in my modest convent schooling of Jamnagar, Sister Anita and the thesaurus made a huge impact on me. She introduced me to the vastness, richness, preciseness and beauty of language. It motivated me to write differently with better vocabulary. And her appreciation of my every attempt was very gratifying and encouraging.
When I look back at my teachers, there are some who really mattered for their attitude and approach and they did make a difference. When I look ahead at my kids’ teachers, I am ever so concerned about how they will mould and influence the kids. We are constantly harping about how the children spend more time in proximity with their teachers than with us and how the teachers can ignite their minds with encouragement, guidance and enthusiasm. Of course all teachers, like in any profession, aren’t in the same calibre. Some are especially skilled and equipped at their job and we do admire them in our conversations feeling relieved that our kids are under their aegis. Yet, despite its significance teaching is not the champion of professions. I have forever heard parents coaxing their children to become tennis players or surgeons or anything but never by exception, especially in the upper middle class, have I heard any parent provide teaching as a preferred career option. It is the last resort for anybody, if nothing works out get your B.Ed and become a teacher. No wonder there is such a dearth of qualified and capable teachers because the experienced ones are retiring without a matching influx of competent younger ones. And it is not about money alone, it is much more about mindset. It is not elite enough for us.
We do not admire the fact that teaching as a profession requires intelligence and a very special mental aptitude and attitude to be able to deal with dozens of very different minds. They are the fountain heads through which springs of knowledge might sprout up and once up they might channel it into infinite possibilities. It is not about honoring or deifying the teachers, it is about giving them their due prestige as professionals. Realize it or not but proficient teachers do a lot of value addition not to corporate houses or products but real and living people.
Well, this was just one of my thought sparks which in the course of elaboration does make me respect the teachers more. But when I think of a profession which is incessantly physically demanding, emotionally draining and mentally challenging, there’s none other than Motherhood. It is absolutely one of its kinds. Hope to lengthen on it soon. Till then hats off to teachers and salutations to mothers.