‘…Be our WI-FI’
‘DEAR TEACHER, DON’T BE A CANDLE...BE OUR WI-FI’
The quintessential analogy of comparing a teacher to a candle spreading its light of knowledge seems to be losing its ardency today. Gone are the days when just being a candle was enough to guide and enlighten young scholars.
A teacher in this era is expected to be much more than a guide. Holistic development of a student is not possible if despite having impressive degrees and diplomas the teacher is unable to ‘connect’ with students. The whole purpose of education falls flat if this ‘connect’ isn’t strong and genuine. This connect is the relationship, the quality of relationship and transparency between the student and the teacher.
A lot has been said and is expected from the revered relationship between a learner and the educator. India, a country replete with folklore and legends signifying the Guru-Shishya parampara, in the contemporary ‘Gurukul’ teaching methodology highlights the intricacy, commitment and labour that go into conserving and nurturing this unique association which continues to inspire both educators and students alike.
Changing times and environmental realities have metamorphosed the dynamics of this relationship but the spirit remains concordant with the values set millenniums ago. So what do the students need from this relationship today? What value addition can a teacher contribute which is over and above the plethora of information which is available to them at the click of a button; what else can a teacher offer them to be motivated, to generate interest and whole heartedly attend classes? What genuinely attracts them to learn and be curious about a subject?
The dynamics of any relationship works primarily on two major premises – Love and Fear. While Love is a positive emotion including feelings of happiness, contentment and peace, Fear encompasses negatives like anger, hate, anxiety, etc. In a classroom setting, if the interaction of a child with his teacher is predominantly based on love/genuine affection, the alliance needless to say would blossom; there would be immense gain for both in the whole process, making it a rich, symbiotic and vibrant experience to cherish. To impart quality education – of what use are the smart boards, smart classes and other teaching aids for a child if the working relationship between a teacher and student is poor. Apart from sound wisdom and knowledge, the following values add meaning to this relationship:-
- Respect – The first and foremost exigency of any relationship is respect. There can be no progress in the true sense of the word if respect isn’t mutual. Honour each other- ensures that the teacher and learner value the ethos of the whole education process. Small gestures express a lot. A smile, a compliment, appreciation, kind words have the power to bolster any association. It shouldn’t be in short supply. Respect for self first, followed by respect for others paves the way for a mutually beneficial innings.
- Understanding – Understanding is supremely important on the part of a teacher. Being the only adult in a class room with an average of thirty children, it is absolutely necessary to have the sensitivity, sensibility and empathy to gauge the needs of the students. It is the obligation and moral responsibility of the teacher to assess them for their strengths and weaknesses and devise an effective teaching methodology for those children. When a teacher is understanding, plenty of undesired consequences and concomitant risks are eliminated.
- Patience – The quality or virtue that allows the teacher to never give up on a child is patience. It helps handle a difficult child, his mood swings and confrontations. A patient teacher would always have large a heart, broad shoulders and a forgiving attitude. This in no way indicates that discipline should be compromised. There is always that fine balance to be maintained between patience and crossing the given red line. Practically speaking, a patient teacher is approachable and motivates the class to clarify topics and doubts, without the fear of being mocked or ridiculed. When a child feels safe understood and validated, the process of transferring knowledge and values is successful.
The common fallacy that some teachers believe is that ‘being friends’ with the student would help in imparting better education. It is essential to be conscious of the distinction between being friends with your students and ‘being friendly’. A teacher needs to be friendly with students. However, the basic difference between ‘being friends’ and ‘being friendly’ is that ‘being friendly’ ensures that a respectable distance and space is maintained between the tutor and the tutored. While the teacher is approachable, the student can look up to the teacher anytime he needs adult assistance and guidance without taking things for granted or casually. A student should not mistake the friendliness of the teacher in the same frame of reference as his peers and any unhealthy confrontation which may turn awkward and embarrassing for the institution must be avoided.
They say there is no perfect relationship. But if there was a recipe for the perfect student teacher relationship it would somewhat be like this:-
Take a bowl of knowledge; add ladles of love and care. Pour in some concern too. Add tablespoons full of patience, a spoonful of austerity and a dash of companionship, stir in appreciation, blend in optimism with a pinch of sternness. Don’t forget to add a bit of fright if need be (according to the student’s taste of course!) Finally garnish it with lots of happiness and serve warm.
This recipe is custom made between every student and teacher. Make sure as a teacher to enjoy what you serve.
Kiran Sangeeta Murali is a certified cognitive behaviour therapist and an NLP practioner. She is presently working in Yadavindra Public School, Patiala as the School Counsellor. She has a master’s degree in Applied Psychology and a B.Ed. degree. She also has the experience of working as a centre head of a popular pre-primary school. A proud army wife, she is a beauty with purpose.Being the crown winner of Mrs India Globe 2016 and Mrs Universe finalist 2017(South Africa) and having a genuine interest in psychological wellbeing of children, she wishes to educate parents and teachers on effective employment of life-skill lessons at home and beyond to empower the citizens of tomorrow.