22 Nov 2007

The Gloomy future of teaching profession in India

"The Indian academic profession has suffered from having been born under three unlucky stars. It was unable, because of the poverty of the country, an unfortunately chosen constitutional model and an uncongenial cultural tradition, to develop vitality as an intellectual community with a variety of overlapping, more specialised intellectual sub-communities.

Coming into existence in a society which was not a civil society, it could not develop a sense of affinity with the other sectors of the elites – alien and Indian –which ruled the Indian polity, economy and culture. And being more advanced in the scale on which it was carried on than the economic and social structure of the country, it could not function as an effective training stage for the central and lesser elites of the country.

These latter two misfortunes accentuated the first. The attrition of civility and superfluity in the performance of its function in the Indian economy has inhibited intellectual ardour and hampered the growth of academic intellectual traditions."

In my view, this analysis by Edward Shils is perhaps it is one of the very erudite summation of the reasons for the woeful position of the teaching profession in India. This problem is not unique but, similar to many other problems in India, a part and parcel of the the vicious circle of poverty, over-population and all. Keeping aside the historical reasons, the huge competition in the sector, lack of monetary incentives and the cultural attitude towards teaching being considered a noble but last option [heard anyone saying 'those who can't teach, preach'].

Research has shown that "there is evidence of inefficient incentive structures for teachers, with teacher characteristics that produce improved student achievement commanding only weakly higher pay, while other teacher traits that have few discernible learning benefits for the pupils having strong salary payoffs for the teachers." Then there are other reasons as well. But whatever may be the reasons, the country as a whole is suffering. Those who are bright don't need a teacher and those who are not-interested cannot be helped by a teacher. But what about those who are average and really need a committed individual to inspire in them the zeal to dream, think and grow.

A teacher is very important for the growth and development of the pupil. The personality of students is sharpened highly by the teacher they have, especially in their formative years. They learn, know and understand the meaning of respect and millions of other things in life, which they cannot be expected to realize all at home or work. We all need a playground and an instructor to find out what are potentials really are and the field we are best in or belong to or should aspire to me. And that is what a teacher is for.

Here I do not mean to offend or show dis-respect to all those teachers who have shown the golden path of "knowledge is empowerment" to me and that "there is not success without hardwork" and those who continue to inspire the zeal in me to keep myself directed to the chosen goal, but what I am essentially trying to say is that the number of such self-motivated, inspiring and selfless beings is dwindling rapidly and the system needs to be reworked if the future for tomorrow is to be ensured as being a good one.

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