Aabesh Biswas is a fifth-rank-holder in the ISC 2022 exams and has set his sights on going into the depths of Philosophy and History as he plans his future. With his desire to pursue a career in academia, he shares with us his teachers’ contribution to his growth and what he believes to be the ideal role of a teacher.
Education is an important and integral aspect of human society and the most important way in which knowledge is transmitted to the next generation. When we first leave our homes, soon after infancy, and encounter the world, our school teachers are the first significant role models we come in contact with outside our immediate family. It is they who play a fundamental role in shaping and moulding the young minds for the future - in the classroom and beyond.
There can be many definitions of what counts as teaching. Whether it's formally qualified educators at a school, sports or speaking coaches, or simply the various mentors we encounter throughout life - the teachers we meet play a key role in influencing what captivates and drives our interest, as well as helping us understand life. Conversely, parents, grandparents and close associates of the family may also be considered to be good teachers who in their little ways shape young minds.
Formal education in particular, however, has a very noble role to play in modern society, and teachers are the channelers of that education. For we all owe much of what we are to our teachers.
Without Socrates' probing questions, Plato would perhaps not be spurred to the greatness we know him for; without Plato, Aristotle’s greatness might have remained unrealized. It could be argued that teachers, in their role as prophets and harbingers of new social movements and novel systems of thought have been the prime drivers of history.
The importance of a teacher is not the mere communication of ideas to a student, but a questioning, dialogic process which attempts to awaken in the student the fundamental questioning attitude that is integral to education.
Teaching, therefore, is not just about helping us students attain transient definitions of success, but to help us develop a broader outlook, a more creative and critical mind, an awareness of the world around us, and a deep sense of compassion. The best education, in my opinion, is one that equips us for life as well as deeply interests us in the subject beyond the curriculum. Some teachers can entirely re-orient the way we look at the world, as in the physics student who begins looking for angles and slopes in the real world, the literature student who becomes more in touch with their real feelings by identifying them in the great works or the sociology student who slowly begins to understand the hidden social formations that drive the society we live in. I count myself lucky to have encountered many such inspiring teachers in my school life and hope to have the opportunity to give back in my way too, as I aspire to eventually go into academia.
“The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding because to understand is to be free", noted Baruch Spinoza. Teachers help us develop holistically, as individuals, by providing a supportive environment and teaching us to appreciate different perspectives and cultures. Every teacher is a psychologist at work, because in spite of dealing with so many different individuals and their different backgrounds in a single class, they try to bring out the best in everyone.
Over the last two years, we have witnessed a complete change in education as we know it. Due to the pandemic, many teachers have had to adapt to an entirely different mode of education which is online, while simultaneously dealing with the stress of lockdown life. Some schools, particularly in the underprivileged sections of society were even forced to shut down fully. However, by listening to us with care and patience, our teachers soon made us comfortable with the online mode, and for that we all are eternally grateful for their efforts.
"The influence of teachers extends beyond the classroom, well into the future" noted F. Sionil Jose. Teachers occupy an integral part of our lives, seamlessly weaving past and present together to pave the way for the future. They help guide us so that we can someday give back to society as they do, helping prepare an entirely new generation for life, its troubles and opportunities.