Guru Saakshaat Parabrahma Tasmai Shri Gurave Namah!

Guru Saakshaat Parabrahma Tasmai Shri Gurave Namah!

Teachers’ Day is celebrated on 5th September

Guru is the God, say the scriptures. Indeed, Guru in the Vedic tradition is looked upon as one no less than a God. Guru is a personal spiritual teacher or guide. In the educational system of ancient India, knowledge of Vedas was personally transmitted through oral teachings from the Guru to his pupil. (Pupils were always male in that period). Classically the pupil lived at the home of his guru and served him with obedience and devotion irrespective of his status in the society.

The pupil was instructed to offer mind, body, and soul and sometimes property to the guru. The tradition of willing service and obedience to the guru is still observed even today even though it has undergone many changes, the essence remains the same. In the Vedic Scriptures sage Brihaspati's knowledge and character is revered and he is considered the Guru, teacher by all Devas.

The teacher along with the mother and the father, is the most venerable gurus of an individual. Over a period, the syllabus and the methodology gradually changed and adapted to the changing times. Gradually, the institution of Gurukul became a system in which, where the disciples learned at the feet of guru for long years. The great urban universities like Takshashila, Vikramshila, and Nalanda evolved from these gurukuls. These great universities and their teachers were as prestigious in their time as Oxford or MIT Universities are today.

Ancient scriptures and literary works make many references to gurus as well as their disciples. The most popular being the story of Ekalavya who taught himself the skill of archery with great devotion, practicing in front of the idol of Guru Dronacharya, who soon exceeded the skills of even the Guru himself. Such is the power of Guru at all times. We come across Karna who did not bat an eyelid while telling guru Parashuram that he belonged to a higher caste, just in order to obtain the Brahmastra, the supreme weapon. Gurus formed the axis of the ancient society, and have enriched various fields of learning and culture by their creative thinking. The Guru tradition has had a lasting significance in the betterment of mankind.

Education is not just a process of learning. Learning is a unique process and not merely a memory. Teaching requires the active involvement of the students in the process of transforming them into active learners. Most teachers are remembered for their love and understanding, teaching methods and for asking them thought provoking questions. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle the three ancient Greek philosophers are remembered for their teaching methods.

Socrates is remembered for not lecturing his students but for his method of asking difficult and thought provoking, questions in order to challenge their underlying assumptions-a method still used in modern day law schools. The thoughts and the ideas of these Philosophers still impact society. Modern educators still employ the patterns of thinking and exploration established by these Greek philosophers and pedagogues.

The aim and purpose of teaching is not only transmitting information and knowledge but also transforming students from passive recipients into active constructors of their own and others' knowledge. Broadly speaking the teachers facilitate the students to learn by imparting knowledge to them and create an atmosphere and situation in which students can and will learn effectively. But teachers perform multiple roles in the school and in the society.

The teacher is a parent substitute, disciplinarian, confidant of students, judge of achievements and organiser of curriculum. In difficult and problematic situations, the teacher displays problem solving skills to help students overcome their challenges. The child's physical safety is entrusted to the school and the teacher who thus becomes morally liable for the child's safety. Teachers play a vital role in bringing out the best in students and inspiring them to strive for greater heights.

The task of an excellent teacher is to stimulate 'apparently ordinary' people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners: it is in making winners out of ordinary people. Students are the future of any nation and a teacher is a credible guide for their advancement in every stage of life: be it academics, extra -curricular activities, making him or her a better human being, imparting good values and traditions and preparing them to face modern day challenges and ways to resolve them tactfully. The teacher is an embodiment of patience. Since each child's speed and learning and understanding capacity differs from the other, it's very important for a teacher to understand the skill, talent and memory of the students individually and guide them towards the best.

With the digital media at your doorstep, education has changed a lot in the recent times. With the click of a button and a few strokes here and there, the store house of knowledge is right in front of you. A decade ago, a teacher was seen as someone who had answers for every question under the sky, a guardian of the entire information. But now the information is already shared, chewed and digested by the students in advance. So what work is left for the teacher? The teachers quickly transformed themselves to help students to understand the concepts outside the text book. The teachers have become a consistent guide to help the students in graduating from one lesson to another.

Today's students face the 'problem of plenty', in choosing their career. Students need to be directed at every step to pick up the right career that suits their talent and skill and choose the best platform to expose their skills without any hesitation, the teacher has transformed into a big support system under these circumstances. Indian students are not short of skill or talent but they lack the right vision, right experience, right path and smartness in choosing the right career.

Here, steps in the teacher who would stand by them and guide them to overcome the multiple challenges. The teacher would be their very close pal who would extract the best out of them. One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers but with gratitude to those who touched their human feelings.

The role of teachers doubled and had an even greater significance in light of the challenges that they faced during the Covid-19 crisis. The pedagogical adaptations have proven to be pivotal as the traditional lecturing in-person models did not translate to remote learning environment. No matter the type of channel used -radio, T.V, mobile, online platform etc. the teachers' needed to adapt their practices and had become creative to keep students engaged as every house hold had become a class room more often than not without an environment that supports learning. The extended school closures changed the role of teachers and most of them were not prepared for such change. Many were not tech savvy. But teachers to support student learning, learnt the use of technology and shifted towards online education, which was both an opportunity and challenge. Teachers responded overnight to teach in new modalities.

Each teacher ensured the continuity of learning and supporting the mental health and well -being of their students. During these difficult times the teachers had shown great leadership qualities, tremendous amount of patience, empathy and innovation. They have proved the fact that 'Learning never stops, and no learner is left behind'. In order to see the continuity of learning, they had worked and contributed individually and collectively in finding solutions and creating learning environment for their students without a halt.

The essential part of teaching profession is to listen to students' concerns and demonstrate understanding so that the students feel protected and comfortable in times of great difficulties. Even the teachers conducted Yoga and meditation classes to keep the taught more centered and concentrated.

Keeping in mind the great contribution made by the teaching community at the time of unprecedented crisis the government and social partners and other key actors have a higher and greater responsibility regarding the teachers' health, safety and well- being as well as their employment and their working conditions both in private and in educational institutions run by the government.

Teaching is not a job. It is a human service and it must be thought of as a mission. Teachers deserve our gratitude and respect. They dedicate their lives to teaching children and guiding them through life. If you want to put someone on a pedestal, put teachers because they lose sleep over other people's kids. If there were no teachers all other professions would not exist. They are the real heroes.

We collectively and wholeheartedly celebrate The Teachers' Day on 5th September to honour and celebrate our beloved teachers for their continued commitment to their students and for contributing to their achievements. Now is the time to recognise the role of teachers who ensure and help a generation of students reach their full potential. It is time to think and understand what the new time needs and is looking for.

What the world needs, is someone to direct and persuade the future generation in a right, positive way, someone to push and encourage students to make space where they wish to learn to better themselves. That is the new, desired role of a teacher. In the words of Dr. Abdul Kalam,' Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of the individual'.

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