"One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child." so says Carl Jung.
I see the future of Education as the single driving force for the growth and direction that our nation will take. It has the capacity to sustain our population, direct youthful energies into productive channels and moderate the politics of the country to emerge a stable and sensibly developed economy, which has sorted out its national priorities.
In our country, because of the large number of uneducated young people, the priority should be equity and the accessibility of quality education for the masses. All children who are out of school must be included in some learning option.
While the NEP initiates some movement in the correct direction, it has not yet taken flight from the digital webinars and conferences to deliberate on its attributes. Without an increased outlay and a combined public and private genuine desire to push the policy towards fruition and implementation, it is to be seen if this further confuses the already confusing imbroglio of Indian education or grows to acquire clarity of direction.
A large number of retired teachers can be given financial incentives to provide education to the huge marginalized sections. In this way, the teachers who do not receive a pension, have an alternative income and, therefore, trained experienced persons are available as committed volunteers for this service.
Besides increasing learning outcomes in relation to international standards, it should ensure clarity of purpose, more homegrown research in science and technology, slow down the loss of talent and provide greater employability and soft skills to our youth force, the largest in the world.
Societal changes, vocational education and skill-based learning should make technical courses which grow towards careers and vocations more respected and competitively paid as they are in the rest of the developed world.
I see the future of our country in the future of Education. I would like more young bright minds to come to teaching subjects, vocations, skill-based technical courses and applied arts and sciences.
When the profession of teaching receives the highest respect that it truly deserves, more than the cricketer, the Bollywood artiste, the smart banker, the thriving entrepreneur, the accountant and lawyer, only then will India become a great nation. "There is no recipe to be a great teacher, that’s what is unique about them" concludes Robert Sternberg.
The mother of all professions is not an easy one but a creative and challenging one as it deals with the growing minds of our country. It is critically necessary to make this profession more attractive, which would induce young people to flock to it. It is one of the most versatile careers which has almost all components of research, planning, performing, artistry, teamwork and the greatest challenge of all, which is to engage with young minds. Maybe giving summer jobs to senior school students to shadow teachers, assist in school plays and referee tournaments may draw the young and vibrant to this calling. Using role model teachers in public forums, making them thought leaders and giving them influence and decision-making power in the Local Self Government as advisors or Mentors would add colour and strength to the profession.
Teachers are said to be the single most powerful factor or influence in a successful person’s life and career. My history teacher was a young magnetic lady who used conversations and research to not only teach History but to evaluate it. Her parting advice to me was to “have the courage of my convictions”. This has led me to follow my path and practise what I preach. It has been the single most powerful influencer in my life.
The warmth of teachers, friendly advice, the mock admonishment and affectionate camaraderie during school excursions are bonds that nourish and encourage students to build self-worth, confidence and work towards their dreams. The opinion of their school teachers, coaches, and school counsellors seems to matter even more than parents (much to their consternation!).
My only advice to my students is to respect and honour teachers, especially those who have retired. Remain connected and charge their lives with the sweetness of your youthful presence and in this vital relationship, you will gain a perspective on life, what it means to be a human and how in the course of life this is much more enriching than wealth and fame.