Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu
Guru Devo Maheshwara
Guru Sakshat Param Brahma
Tasmai Shri Gurave Namah
The teacher has a special presence in each one’s life, a silent influence that guides us to do better things in our lives than our expectations, a force that has quietly transformed people who later transform millions around them.
Teachers’ Day is an occasion even today when the individual is venerated, shown special appreciation for being instrumental in imparting curricular knowledge, sharing insights to confidently stride out in the world, shaping our destiny, moulding our character to make good in the world. A fact acknowledged in most countries of the world, is the immense contribution that teachers through their presence make in our lives and hence it is celebrated in quite similar fashion by honoring them on that particular day. The Day may be different but the celebration to mark the occasion is roughly the same. In India, a knowledgeable man and renowned teacher himself, the second President of Free India (Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan), first declared September 5th the official day of his Birthday Celebrations as Teachers’ Day in 1962. Year after year since then, we have been celebrating it on the same day to show our respect towards those who guided us to see a better tomorrow.
The significance of the teacher in our lives
Why has the teacher been so revered by one and all? why is a fairly humble person, an individual confined to a place with limited resources but with far better insights than many around them, given a place of pride in society?
From traditional times, royalty recognized the need for special attention besides the imparting of the needed knowledge of statecraft and the use of weapons. A king had to be much more than a mere ruler of his subjects. He needed worldly insights on gauging people, their needs and woes, the art of getting correct information, the need for taking just and able decisions that would benefit the kingdom and his subjects, besides a lot many more things that a head of a large family of subjects ought to know. This knowledge could be imparted only by somebody wise, not burdened with the routine of life, who was respected in society and who also took pains to explain in depth that would groom the next to the throne to be a complete ruler.
The sages or rishi munis were revered for their knowledge in the sacred texts, their austerity, their piousness and their acquiring of knowledge for the people at large to benefit. So princes were put under these hallowed beings to become worthy of their subjects and taught everything that the Guru could teach and in an atmosphere devoid of luxury and comfort that a royal house provided. They stayed with their teachers and came back to the kingdom only when the Guru felt they had acquired all that was required of them.
Such Guru-Shishya Parampara or tradition followed since ancient times is the pillar of strength of Indian society that if not seen in the exact manner as described above is at least followed in spirit. The teacher even today holds a place of pride in Indian society barring a few modern day anomalies that are witnessed now and then.
That was and has been form of dependence, a complete surrender of will to the diktat of the teacher, till the entire period is over till some time back.
Today the concept of the teacher being the fulcrum of getting knowledge for oneself has changed.
The concept of teacher – changed over the times
A teacher traditionally was supposed to represent any individual or set of individuals, physically present throughout our educative years. It was someone responsible for imparting a particular know-how during the formal process of education, progressing over the years to cover a whole lot of subjects and related aspects, in ensuring a completeness that would stand us in good stead to not only take up a vocation but also being able to do well in it.
In other words the concept of a physical being on whom we were dependent majorly for getting to know things, our approach to making something out of ourselves born out of a confidence that the teacher was the solution for all our doubts and problems that we faced or might face. Thorough dependence upon this master who not only showed us the way but also encouraged with his or her words and actions for a sufficient period of time that we were there together. There was a total dependence for everything that we wished to know, be it curricular or otherwise. A library could supply the material, the teacher had to guide regarding the right material to read and follow, show the way to imbibe. One would see it as a total surrender of the self to an authority trusted to get us thoroughly groomed and ready to face the world. Very few strode out to try and do things on their own.
A new order emerging
With the passage of time there have been marked changes in the way education has been perceived. The emergence of the internet and the opening up of new frontiers of knowledge through it, has drastically paved the way for increasing dependence on sources for getting to know things, other than the physical entity called ‘the teacher’. Millions of books in every field and literally on any subject under the sky written by layman to authoritative researchers and devoted professionals, have been put out under the sky of an ‘explosive revolution’ called the dissemination of knowledge.
The Internet and gaining useful knowledge
One can now know the way a rocket is made to the way a cookie is baked, the way a government functions to style and etiquette to be followed in modern society, the way the stringed instrument can be tuned and played to the manner in which the mind functions when under stress. In other words one can see the following:
- there are dissertations and discourses on any subject under the sky available from thousands of sources, from the seemingly banal to the expert.
- the information is available to anyone with reasonable command of the keyboard and mouse to elicit information from the highway of knowledge called the Internet in any form, and level of information (superficial to deep). In other words the vastest pool of information or e-library is at anybody’s disposal to explore thoroughly. This apart from the already existing supply, of limited and restricted availability, in print that is stored in institutions and public libraries.
- there are courses or subjective matter in detail put out for those interested, free and for limited fee, that get a pursuing individual to master the subject, outside of the formal classroom and the restrictive environment of an institutional curriculum, and at a convenient pace. In fact modern day practices have emerged that give weightage to the knowledge gained from these online courses that enable candidates to get jobs based on certification that show successful completion of the particular subject matter in concern.
- information to further gain related information on a subject, now arms an individual that much extra that he or she is prepared to tackle competitive job situations, areas where one has to think on one’s feet, be prepared for emergencies, unanticipated developments within a job and a lot more such cases.
This and a lot many more opportunities that keep presenting themselves in various forms have revolutionized the way knowledge is gained.
What is the change observed?
- A knowledge highway available to teacher and student alike puts both on a footing with a lot less by way of gaps between the two. The student is able to question much better, be more incisive and elicit better answers for his or her relevant queries. The teacher in turn has to be far more prepared than earlier to be able to satisfy sufficiently, the plus point being the teacher’s ability to still guide through age (narrowing very much) and experience that he or she has undergone.
- The resources that the teacher may still have at his or her command is the access to certain pools of information restricted to their circles, interaction with professionals of industry and other professional pursuits etc. still give them an edge. Tradition still plays an advantage if the Guru is fairly prepared to answer most if not all that is asked, meaning that a prepared mind is always given respect in any decent society.
- This healthy environment upgrades the standard or level of discussion and naturally plays an important role in boosting the image of an institution.
- There are many more advantages of such salubrious climate prevailing that it augurs well for the growth and well-being of society at large.
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Does it mean the days of the Teacher are numbered? Absolutely Not! The Teacher shall always remain in that niche place that society has afforded him or her, not by means of the formal definition as in an institution, but by way of a permanent situation that can never be altered – Vidhyadanam Shrestha Danam! ( The imparting of knowledge is the greatest that one can donate), irrespective of who gives, he is always the Teacher.