Does it make even a slight difference to the student when a teacher gives an encouraging nod or a helpful smile that gives him the courage and confidence to go on to complete the rest of his reply, however idiotic it may be, to a question, in front of the entire classroom? A class, I might add, of blood thirsty vampires, be it 5 year olds, twittery teenagers or the thirty- somethings at your Executive classes in University. Yes, it definitely does! Teachers can make or break you.
I have been on both side of this scenario, literally, I have taught toddlers, teenagers and recently classes that are so entirely heterogeneous that it boggles the mind. A sweet grandmother, a businessman, a college going woman, the quintessential rural landlord, they all make up a typical class at my work place now. What does it take for a teacher to be good? Being a successful teacher is absolutely and entirely a different ball game altogether. Your students could be scoring fantastically, off the charts in the tests, but that isn’t your doing. The score is not the name of the game, is it? Especially in such a distorted education system as ours. I have known brilliant students who have all the concepts and answers but it is an art when it comes to putting your thoughts in order. That is a dilemma faced by my very own sibling, who happens to be brilliant and very hard working, stays up nights and nights before his exams, works steadily all year long, but ends up with a mediocre result, painfully, time and time again. And then there is the obnoxious student who makes a mockery of the entire class and ends up acing at the end of the day. Well, it takes all kinds, doesn’t it?
But it is the job of a good teacher to find out her pupil’s strengths and shortcomings and to try and deal with them in whatever capacity they can. I distinctly remember my brilliant teacher, Mrs. Akhtar, way back in secondary school and the way she worked to help out the challenging cases in our class. It was fascinating how artfully she would cajole the poor kid to a much more focused attitude without any of them being none the wiser. She inspired the ones who wished to learn about Literature and made it seem like a labyrinth of heavenly and undiscovered fantasies that it actually is. And then there was a certain Maths teacher who literally crushed your soul back into its skeletal system even if you made a teeny tiny mistake. There was also a History teacher who didn’t even know the subject and just stood there like a zombie and droned on and on like that anchor from Geo TV, whats his name, on aik din geo ke saath.
The biggest and most crucial problem in the system is assigning teachers subjects that they have no knowledge or command over. The teacher is himself absolutely irritated as this isn’t what they want to do or be in life. Then again, there is the latest trend, due to the dwindling jobs in the market, where every Tom, Dick and Harry assumes he can be a teacher ‘till he gets something more appropriate’. It is easy money, after all. At what price? That is an opportunity cost that just doesn’t get analyzed.
So teach, not because its convenient, or because it doesn’t require much effort (MAJOR misconception, it’s the most difficult task to undertake), or because that’s what all the rage is nowadays; Teach- with passion, and a thirst to not just educate your students in some subject but also to provide them with a skill set that would be to their credit. Each word you speak, each step you take, each look you give, matters. Make it count.