Prof.(Dr) Deependra Kumar Jha, Vice Chancellor, Adamas University, Kolkata believes that empathy is the primary quality that differentiates a good teacher from the rest. He shares his valuable insights from his long career as an educator and mentor.
There was a teacher, once, shaping words into your ear - a tongue you’d call your mother. There was a teacher, once, whose name means everything they’ve left behind. There was a teacher, once, demarcating the sea and the sky, the voyager and the sea - reality and dreams. There was a teacher, once, as far back as you can remember.
There was a teacher, once. There is a teacher, now.
Learning & growing is what makes us human - it’s the idea of sustaining your name until time leaves it behind. There is little we know of what is, what will be, what was - something that cannot shift, though, is our curiosity. We can build around it, little cornerstones in a wide river, but knowledge will be our centrepiece.
I say all that to say - the future of education is the future of humanity. How we learn changes as we do - as we rise and fall, the rhythm follows into the rubric of educational spaces. With the pandemic, we learned something very valuable - if we’re falling apart at the seams, if the world is ending, we’ll still look to normalcy. Our normalcy is hunger - our normalcy is learning.
In the future, I believe education will dominate virtual spaces, and people will be more inclined to learn at their own pace. Information is becoming increasingly decentralized, and it's only natural that education does as well - it becomes personalized and tailored, where acumen is no longer measured on an objective scale. Education blurs all lines - spaces become inter-connected and interdisciplinary, and people learn more than they’re prescribed to. There is freedom for learning - there is passion, there is curiosity, there is conviction.
Life-long learning is no more a buzzword. As education sprawls into niches and offers more specific insights, people are inclined to learn as long as they’re curious, even after they out-grow educational institutes and step foot into the professional world. Learning soft skills that hero their expertise and accessorize them for the industry become favoured.
I believe teachers have always been the pillars of society - and they’ve come in every capacity. The potential of a civilisation is determined by its teachers; their ideals mould young minds. A teacher is in a position of power - they play god, perhaps, and turn people’s lives around. They’ve been a lighthouse - a warning and a shelter all at once. Learning, I think, is to be moved; thinking what we know is our own, but in the end, it was someone else - who found us.
And who was it but our teachers?
As an educator, my life revolves around children - it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say my life revolves around the future. From what I have learned from my students and their success, failures, their strengths - I know what makes a man (- or a woman). It’s empathy, first and foremost, which guides success. It’s the ability to be human, the ability to wear someone else’s shoes, the ability to appreciate, and the ability to respect.
Empathy, I have learned, is what sets you apart.