This post has been published by me on the occasion of the Teachers' Day as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 2, the second edition of the online marathon of Bloggers, where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.
|Teachers : Aaj Kal|
Prof. V.K. Grover
When we talk of teachers, we need to consider all the teachers starting from the Professors in a big university to a school teacher in a village.
Let us first start with the University teachers because I myself belong to this fraternity. Moreover, if they are good, then they produce students of higher calibre, some of whom teach in the colleges and in turn produce good school teachers, who in turn send well equipped students for the higher learning, hence improving the country's human resources.
In the middle of the twentieth century when USSR launched its first satellite, Sputnik I; USA realized that it was lagging behind in the space technology. During this era of Space Race, USA opened its doors for the scientific intellectuals from all around the world, offering them handsome salaries and attractive working conditions. This gave an opportunity to many Indian academicians to visit USA and work with the best in the trade. Some of them came back with greater acceptability in the Indian society becoming members of an elite class of intellectuals. They took teaching and research assignments in Indian universities that gave boost to teaching and learning, particularly in sciences and mathematics.
Moreover, after Independence there was a major expansion in the higher education which led to quick promotional avenues for the teachers. This acted as a great work incentive as some of them even became heads of institutes at relatively young age. As those teachers were in the main stream of world research scenario, they were very successful as teachers and thus became role models for the future generations.
As the time passed, the expansion in higher education got stunted. There were lesser opportunities for promotions. Moreover, due to political reasons or otherwise, successive governments developed apathy towards teaching community. In order to make sure that the teachers are not marginalised in the society, the university and college teachers formed Unions and fought together to obtain better service conditions which they got in the form of establishment of UGC in 1970's.
However, they had to pay a heavy price for this in terms of loss of respect in the society associated with the noble profession of teaching. Monetary considerations took the priority over the academics and more and more teachers started indulging in private tuitions. In this scenario, the only formula to help the students obtain good marks is to give them some ready made tips and no efforts are made to make the basic concepts clear.
With the opening of I.T. enabled services sector, people are finding other professions more lucrative. Only the mediocre are now left to join the teaching profession. This decrease in the quality of University level teachers trickles down to the lower levels too.
This discussion will be incomplete if we don't talk about the school teachers who really lay the foundation for the future human resources.
In earlier days, in general, people were satisfied with the career they started with and were physically and mentally devoted to it. There are examples of teachers taking free of cost extra classes in the schools for the weak students and devoting extra time in sincerely checking home work of the students. However, as every one is becoming commercial these days, even they are not left untouched. Tuitions are becoming a fashion these days and there are innumerable cases of Government teachers forcing their students to take up private tuitions from them after the school.
In the olden times, the teachers also had a free hand in mending the pupils and even a bit of corporal punishment was a way of life. On the contrary, present day teachers have become more accountable. Parents are averse to any kind of corporal punishment and as such teachers have to work under many constraints; good or bad, is a different subject matter.
If we analyse further, we find that in the past, the access to information was not that good as it is today. Now with the invention of computers and Internet, the students are well informed while the students in the olden days had only one source for learning new things and that was the teacher. Hence he was looked at as the most learned person. However, today students can critically examine the teacher in view of the information available through the Internet and when the teacher is at fault, it automatically leads to decline in respect.
The introduction of the new technologies like LCD projectors and computers, however, also have there positives for the teaching community. A computer savvy teacher can plan his lectures well, make them more legible and give pictorial descriptions at ease, something which older generation teachers could not do. With the fast exchange of information through Internet and updating of technologies, if today's teacher is willing to put some effort, he can do wonders.
Beyond the old and present teachers, what about the future? The phrase old is gold will be repeated in future too. You may wonder that the quality of teachers might further decline. However, this is not the case. At any given time and in any profession, we have some good professionals and some black sheep while the most of the remaining are the mediocre. With the passage of time, we forget the black sheep and the mediocre and remember only the good ones, comparing them with the complete lot of the present professionals. This gives a bias against the present ones.
In future if someone happens to write about the teachers, he/she may come up with some other reasons but nevertheless the reasons quoted here are a food for thought. Some of the maladies plaguing the teaching community, mentioned here, if rectified or better removed can help in arresting any further decline in the standards.
A note from the Host Blogger:
Well, friends when this topic which had been suggested by me on the Blog-a-Tonic discussions, finally got selected, I already had some vague ideas about how to treat it. However, being totally held up due to studies, I thought why not pass the buck onto the person who has more than half a century of association with the education sector, first as a student and then as a teacher himself. Being a Mathematician, my father has always played with numbers. So here, I challenged him to play with the alphabets. He was hesitant at first but finally yielded and came out with a brilliant analysis. What you read here is the final version with minor editions from my side.
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton are Rajalakshmi, Dhiman, Ranee, ,  , Avada, Indian Pundit, Sojo, Aneet, Pramathesh, Aativas, Sid, Pra, Ajinkya, Lakshmi, Govind, Shilpa, Bharathi, Shankar, Mytuppence, Azad, Pawan, Pankaja, Saimanohar, Guria, Shruti, Vishnu, Nasrajan and Richa. Click on their respective names to read their posts on Teachers : Aaj Kal. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.
Don't miss my latest Teachers' Day special review and recommendation of Freedom Writers on The recent Movie I Liked upon Reflecting widget on the side bar.Images Courtesy:
1. http://www.research.plymouth.ac.uk and http://www.dea.uniroma3.it (edited)
2. From personal collection (edited)