Education Warriors

Teachers succeed where parents fail, says Uma Purkayastha in a tribute to the silent contributors during COVID-19

By Uma Purkayastha

Every year, Teacher’s Day reminds us of the contributions of teachers in society. Parents cannot control their children to that extent the teachers can. A teacher-student relation is quite different from parent-children relation. Most parents realised this during the long lockdown when school remained closed. They also understood why it is said: “Teachers are the builders of the nation.”

It was natural that the children became victims of boredom due to continuous confinement at home and became quite unruly. The educated parents tried their best to teach their children at home, following the books prescribed but failed. The parents could realise that it was next to impossible for them to substitute the teachers. Through experience and skill, the teachers know the technique of moulding the children where the parents fail. The teachers know the art of controlling their students, even the delinquents like a magician, with his or her wonderful wand of teaching.

Children are generally homesick and attached to their parents, but the lockdown made them frustrated and drawn to their schools and their teachers. Online classes did keep the students engaged to a degree, but could not hold their interest.

School students have been the worst sufferers of the lockdown situation. Almost all educational institutions remained since the end of March 2020 due to COVID-19. The school children initially took the lockdown as an unexpected holiday, to enjoy but very soon they felt bored without school. True to the adage ‘an idle mind is a devil’s workshop’, they became very difficult for the parents to control. Just as the doctors fought to save lives, the teachers fought to save the young generation from atrophy and moral degradation, although minimally via the internet.

Online teaching has not been fully successful in India, but it did acquaint the teachers and students with a new system of learning. Those deprived of the facilities of online teaching also took the sincere initiative to know the lessons taught from their friends, and accordingly try to do homework and other assignments.

For teenagers, home confinement is very critical. This is a period when they badly need their friends and teachers to express their mental agonies and seek advice. During the lockdown, smartphones became their best company to divert their mind. A smartphone is the storehouse of all good and evil, and the aftereffect is easily imaginable. As a result, a number of minor evil-doers are increasing in society.

Considering all these problems, people could realise that the physical presence of teachers is very much essential, which cannot be replaced by online teaching. Even a teacher’s frown in a classroom is sufficient to mend them.

Moreover, in each and every class, all the students are not of the same calibre. Some are very brilliant with high I.Q, some are mediocre and some are below par. A teacher’s responsibility is to make them all understand her subject. By her first explanation, only 30% of students can understand a subject properly but for others, she has to make the extra effort. Still, 7% remain unsuccessful. A good teacher will take the sincerest attempt with different methods to be successful with them. Here is the basic difference between online classes and offline classes.

The teachers have sacrificed a lot during COVID-19 to save the children from mental stress and academic deterioration. Most teachers in India are not properly trained or used to online teaching, but under pressure, they made themselves well equipped to help their students.

As we celebrate doctors, nurses and other frontline workers who combined to help us tide over the pandemic, the teachers’ silent contribution has gone unnoticed. We should acknowledge their services with gratitude and that will be their real award this Teachers’ Day.

I pay my tribute to Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the second President of India, a great teacher whose birthday on September 5 is observed as Teachers’ Day. As he said: “A student cannot be dull if the teacher is lively”.

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