Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Teachers ,Parents & Your Chance To Change The World




Give a Seed to a Gardner and you get a Tree. Give a seed to a Potter and you get a Bonsai
~~Chinese Proverb


When I was in eighth grade I read an essay in my social science text book. The central theme of that essay was to teach the importance of family in our society. Our teacher Mr.Gyanendar Mohan Sharma told us that if you want to change the world or make a better society around yourself the only human way were to teach good thing to your children.

He said "when your parents try to preach you something which seems counter intuitive to you, you should remember that they are doing their bit in creating a world in which they want you to live. You should obey it or at least give it a serious thought .Please don't dismiss them straight away ".

I was not sure I was able to grasp what he was trying to say ,but In any case I was not able to follow 80% of the things being said in classroom so I didn't thought much of it . But his words stayed with me till this day perhaps because he was my favorite teacher [well there was one more Fave Teacher: Jyotsna M'aam, but for entirely different reason. I don't really remember which subject she used to teach but I remember her.]

Mr. Sharma was a just a fresh college graduate and like many other College Graduates of that time he was buying time form his parents on the name of Preparing for IAS/RAS & Bank PO exams. [He told all this to our class ]. He is the most engaging teacher I know till date. You can guess his charisma by the fact that He used to teach History, considered to be the most boring subject. Whole class used to engage in a dialogs [Yes, in eighth Standard].

I still remember an incident when he was explaining some part of Second World War and clout of Britain , when I stood up without permission and asked "If Britain was so influential why doesn't it became Superpower like US and USSR [ back than it was still USSR] . "At the risk of sounding pompous arrogant snob I would like to say that "not many student of History and political science can ask that Q even after Five year course which I asked in Eighth Standard"

So very often People tell me that I am good at argument and can make a compelling case. I was a salesman till last year and this debate skill was very useful. My Parents and My Girlfriend are frustrated with my habit of not giving up and making argument and logic on the spot [I admit not all of them are rational, some of them are ad-hoc crap to win the argument. Sorry and "I Love you" :)]

I didn't inherit this. I owe this debate /oration skill to History class of Mr. .Gyanedra Mohan Sharma.

So why I am thinking about GM sir today? Actually I just received an email from a friend of mine .He has been blessed with a baby girl. My friend is father of a kid now. He came back from US last month after a three month long stay and he has already started planning his next trip, which will be almost a Year long trip. He will probably migrate to USA for Good. I guess this is his way of preparing for the role of Father.

I wonder whether GM Sir actually knew what he was talking about. How many of us actually prepare for our role as a parent?

Hands that rocks the cradle:

This brings me to a point about which I think a lot. I always believe that no one is intrinsically smart or genius all of us are product of our environment. We can consciously change our surrounding but only "we", not a 6 year old. So who decide what a 6, 7 or 13 year old got to see and what he believes? To a large extent what you are today depend on

A) Your parents: in most of the cases Least prepared for their job.

) Your Teacher: Least enthusiastic about their job.

Few years back there was a TV Serial on DD named "Neem Ka Paed" [The Neem Tree]? It was story of a lower caste bounded labor from UP-Bihar named Budhiya . His real name was Budhiram but all his life people called him "Bhuddhaiya" when Bhudiram's wife gives birth to a boy. He names hen Sukhiram and make it a point to tell every body that please don't call him "Sukhaiya". To the extent that he even slaps his wife when she accidentally call his son "Sukhaiya". This Kid grows up to become Member of Parliament.

How many among us have such a clear picture of what is good for their kids? Why we simply deal with things as they came up?

Our Social, Professional and Educational ecosystem is not of much help either. I think that the root cause of this is our perception.We see parenthood as a medical event.

Society [family, friend, neighbors] provide all the guidance in health, taking care of kid etc but no one venture any "Constructive" suggestion on bringing up your kids. We need an elaborate dialogs and debate with in our families and social circle on how to do this.

Educational institute thinks that organizing PTA and sending Grade sheet to parents solve the entire problem. Wouldn't it be nice if schools can have a weekend workshop where parents of Teenage kids can come and discuss the problems, issues and strategies with other parents or with some expert? I think this kind of a forum is totally non existent but it is badly needed

Teacher:

I always avoid talking about the role of teacher. My tone is "Don't get me started on this". Our culture put very high esteem to teachers. Problem is that mot of the teachers don't deserve this. They get it by default.

Ask any student today what they want to be when they grow up? You will get many answers. Doctor, Engineer, IAS, CA, MBA but no one wants to be a teacher. But the fact is that few of them will end up being a teacher. Yes they will "End Up" being a teacher, they won't opt for it. They will pursue a carrier in Teaching out of lack of other options. None of the pretty girls want to marry a teacher. [Surprisingly most of them admit having a crush on one of their teacher in school]

Some of my friends are Lecturers in various engineering colleges in Rajasthan. I know their approach. They are frustrated and hate their job. They consider it monotonous, thankless and without growth .they wants to jump to IT companies.

I am afraid that most of the folks who get in to teaching are like that. I don't think that anyone can do a good job of teaching unless he loves it and in this case a consequence of a bad job is a disillusioned student.

I feel strongly about it because I consider myself as a victim of this education system. I am still struggling to survive ill effect of formal education, some teacher at my college were so boring and deprived of life that their sadism spilled over to there subjects also . Everyone used to find there subjects too hard.

There was a guy who used to teach us "Advance Computer Arch" attending his class was a Chinese torture there was not a hint of life or enthusiasm. His very sight was depressing. Whole class used to think of that subject as a tough nut. Two years after that, i taught the same subject to Deepti, a student of mine doing MCA from Rajasthan Univ. I did as home tuition to meet my expenses while struggling for job. I was terrified in the beginning but I discovered that it was a very very interesting and engaging subject. Many of my friends won't believe that I studied arch book cover to cover after college and I can still explain various Memory Addressing mode and mechanism out of sleep. Deepti by the way scored highest marks in that subject in her class.

Since than I am afraid of trying my hand at another subject. I am afraid that I might love them too. Thanks to my boring teacher my fascination toward computer as a technology got somewhat diminished. I got more interested in the applicative aspect of computer.

Sometime I feel like shouting at them for turning a fascinating thing like Comp Sc. in to a boring drill. Teaching and Medicines are not just jobs, you deal with real human life .please don't get in to it just for making a living.

I have no suggestion on how to fix this. May be increasing salary and making teachers more accountable for the student's performance will help. What do you say?

One Last Line:

Next time you find your self cribbing about How to change the world? Or you feel that you can't make world a better place. Just look at KID. Each kid is our chance to change the world.

One small request:

I know it's easy to dispense Gyan .blogger is a free service. But I feel strongly about it. I intend to use this blog as a chronicle of my life. I am writing this post so that I can remind my self of my thought when I will be a father or teacher. It's more of a note to me. but I need a favor form you too , if some time in coming 4-5 years ,you see a post announcing my becoming a father do remind me of this . Just in case my memory fails me. :)

As always I would love to hear your views and comment. Thanks for reading a long post.

Picture courtesy Ms.Sara Heinrichs .

20 comments:

crazypank said...

Nice post buddy!!! But problem is that only few people pay attention when it matter most.

Anonymous said...

Nice post is right and I think more people pay attention then you think they just really don't know how to change the whole darn system!
So start with your own kids and then the nieghbors and keep it going......

J P said...

"you think you will never let anything happen to your kid... then nothing would ever happen to him."
That little quote from 'finding nemo' explains what happens to most of the kids in presence of overly protective parents.

Believe me or not, the first time I traveled outstation, alone, I was 16. In any other country, I would well be working at some place, or
at least gone through one or two years of social service or military training by that time;
In my country I was a dependent till the age of 21.
Why?
"After all why do you need to work, when your family is there to feed you."
If you work, it would only show their incapability... ahh, that false sense of pride.

Now I was thinking, hasn't the first level of teaching gone completely wrong?

With so little exposure to the fabric of the society, so little for self development, no sense of my responsibilities towards the nation,
no understanding of how to struggle or survive, shouldn't I feel like I wasted some 21 years of my life.

Now how can I blame everything on to the people who have merely been teaching me history or maths or science?

So rather than thinking about 'why we do not see good teachers?', I was thinking along the lines of 'why we do not see good parents?'

And well, the first thought that came to me was: how many parents do you see who seriously plan for parenthood?
Most of them I can count, kids to them just happen by chance, or rather by accident; with no planning, no thought of the future.
And then for life long they just stay as an unwanted responsibility.
And why no planning at the first place? well, I can think of a hundred reasons, poverty, lack of education, messed up social circles,
joint families, and the list just goes on.

Power in the hands of incapable. The single biggest irony that I see in the society I live in. Right from one's birth to his death, all
the small or big decisions are made by those, who did not make a single decision for their own throughout their life.
Be it education, choice of career, finding a girl, marriage, when and how many kids to have, you name it, all the time you can see
someone from your immediate social circle, either making decisions on your behalf, or trying to influence you in some manner to make
certain decisions. And when gone through all this, one fine day you become a parent, and feel the power of decision
making in your hands... what would you do ? experiment?

Lack of responsibility -
"I am responsible for my family, not for the society, nor for the country." - There goes the typical Indian mentality.
"Why should I pay taxes when I can save or even better, steal? Why should I dump the garbage in a bin, when I can litter it around?
Why should I follow the laws when I can break and get away with it?
or perhaps, Why should I be a teacher, when someone else could do that job?"

I know I have a lot lot more to write, but in the end, I also know, one who wants to learn, will learn, even in the absence of a
good teacher; but of course, in that case the learning comes by a hard, and often, a lot harder way.

PRASHANT SINGH said...

@Crazy Pank:: I agree with you . somethings loose their impact once you get past the right age . its like learning gymnastic at 30 . i can't do it no matter how mauch i like to do it .

@anonymous : its good to know that there are many people who pay attention to these[subtle] aspect of parenthood . but tell me one thing . was there a humor/scrasm in your remark about starting with your Kid and going froward to neighbor etc etc :)

@JP: i like your style . its more honest,hard hitting and blunt . i can't agree more to your point about Indian parents being over protective toward kids .this tendecy hinder growth and invae space but we can't really blame them 100% for it . its actually becuase of social norms which are drilled in to our heads . our best bet is to be different when its our turn .
some time hard way is the right way .

teachermompd said...

I want to scream about what you said about teachers. I teach third grade in an elementary school in upstate NY. I am up late every night designing creative lessons to capture my studnets' attention. I have two children of my own, and I often feel guilty for all of the "extra" work I do for my class. I have spent over $1,000 of my own money over the past school year. I don't know how much more I can give and then I have to read comments like yours. Don't make blanket statments about people and professions when you don't know everything.

PRASHANT SINGH said...

teachermompd,
thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment . if you read my post carefully you will find out that i m not making blanket statement about teachers . i stared my post by praise of a Teacher of mine . but unfortunately same can not be said for every teacher i encountered .

other point to be considered is that content of this blog is based on indian context . over here teaching is not the profession of choice in 90% of the cases .
your commitment toward your job is great but that doesn't spare rest of the profession from their responsibilities .
btw i was wondering if Committed Enthusiastic teachers like you are exception or Rule .Even in America .

My sincere apologies if my words were hard and i offended you.
Last thing i want is to discourage an enthusiastic teacher . Please keep on doing good work . let me know if i can be of some help [may be when you need to prepare a lesson about india ]
Good luck .

Manoj Awasthi said...

Thanks for another nice post.. (last one that impressed me was about QLC).

Regarding teachers, I think there is a changing trend I see even in India although changes are slow. This is positive that people now are opting for being a teacher (am especially talking of people with great academic interest finishing/pursuing doctorates) even though they can get offers in IT cos.

Beji said...

Why good teachers are missing in Indian context??

Does salary give a clue?!!

PRASHANT SINGH said...

@Manoj : Thanks for the kind words . i agree that things are changing but this is more of a personal awakening of individuals than any widespread change in social approach toward Teaching

@ Beji: Salary is surely a reason . but i am not sure if that's the only reason .

Ujj said...

Hi Prashant: bautiful post. Loved it read it twice.
but i think you are laying too much importance on teachers and parents. What if Parents do not have the right attitude? What is teachers are as they are right now?
Some fifty years back Sukumar Ray (father of Satyajit ray) statred a childrens magazine called Sandesh, he also wrote book, called abol tabol which is haphazard poerty for kids. He is a person belived to have created a new attitude for a generation.

I ask everyone, what is one good read for our kids? Is there anything our children can watch on TV or read that will make them have a better attitude towards life? I don't think so, that I think is the relevance of art and culture on kids.

crazypank said...

Hey buddy!!! Did you give serious thought to join teaching as a profession some day in your life?

PRASHANT SINGH said...

@Ujj: Teachers and Parents are two formative forces in the life of a KID . a Kid is like a blank canvas & these two brushes paint the picture of life on that canvas . and in our society they don't "Actually " realise there importance . a child might have some choice when it comes to Teacher but hardly any choice regarding Parents attitude . before you realise ,damage is done .
im sorry for being too dramatic and eloquent and may be harsh but i want to convey my message. i hope someone is listening

PRASHANT SINGH said...

@CrazyPank: I started my Professional Life as a Teacher . i used to teach computer programming to MCA student in Rajasthan . i have some plans[my startup ]and I want to give them a serious shot .
you might find it funny but if i ever had sufficient money i want to start a Multi disciplinary college ,right in From of My College in Kota . just to show them what is the right way of doing it . that will be my retaliation.

Ramjee said...

Teachers and parents form an important part and play a huge role in our life. however, I guess there is something more ingrained in ourselves which is defined by our birth. I have seen many siblings with very different nature and perspectives (same parents and same set of teachers).
Though one has to agree that parents/teachers play a part, at the end of the day its an individuals ability to realise his/her true nature (once they can think)and then try to achieve it.
Yes parental support towards this helps, but beyond certain age/ maturity its only an excuse we give for our inability to correct ourselves.

Learning is easy, unlearning what we learnt is difficult.

the who said...

When someone rises to say the most discomfiting but obvious things, there's a furore.. You've pointed out some things about us and our system very cogently and i dare say, beautifully. It is true that there are teachers in their profession because they chose to be and who do bring meaning to their profession. But they are more the exception than the norm. I understand you're probably not blaming the teachers themselves but appealing on a larger scale to everyone to choose professions, especially ones that directly deal with human lives, for the right reasons. The same applies to parenting. I know many will cry foul at your making generic statements about teachers and parents but the phenomenon of choosing these roles for the wrong reasons is so widespread and with such lasting repercussions that we can't pretend anymore that it doesn't exist.. Bravo to you for being able to call a spade a spade!!

PRASHANT SINGH said...

@the_who:
Thanks for the affirmation. I sincerely appreciate it . I hope more people admit these flaw and resolve to take corrective action when its their turn .

Anonymous said...

Prashant,
You are good.

Prashant Singh said...

Anon:
Thank You :)

Shobhit said...

Thank you very much for writing this post . It made me think . Beautifully structured argument presented with passion.I was taking the role of parent very lightly . will try to change .

Prashant Singh said...

@shobhit : Apology for late response . I was busy . Thank you very much for your comment. this topic is very clsoe to my heart and you probably don't realize how much it means to me to make one person revisit their world view on this issue . Thank you.