Someone who knows how to control a class and comply to a routine? Someone who’s equipped to deliver long hours of self attested interesting content? Someone who’s read a lot and takes it as duty to transfer knowledge? Someone who thinks children must be taught the right ways of living? Someone who knows ways to control children and complete the required curriculum in time? Someone who has studied to become a teacher? Someone who loves the idea of working with children? Or someone who thinks it’s a noble profession?
Lately, I’ve been working closely with many teachers and all of them seem close to some or all of these kinds. Most times when I speak with them I smell distance, impatience and laxity- distance from realising core strengths of their students, impatience towards achieving academic mandates, and laxity in planning to better each interaction. And I often await questions about how to take children from where they are to where they need to be, and how, at the same time, to help them build their self esteem. The least I’d expect teachers to do is to have continuing discussions and long ideating hours on how to help children to do better each day and how to help each child with it. There are no right answers to these questions and the key is to keep asking them so as to discover better ways of answering them for the context in play. Besides, for education in places impacted by troubled political, social, communal conditions, it is imperative to begin by asking how to minimise influence and empower perspectives. Circles of reflection must become routines and asking must deserve a cheer amidst the teaching community. Planning for lessons must be an enjoyable process and teaching must allow building of relationships. However, if teachers are pinned at pedestals and spoken of as ideals of perfection, they’re never to accept themselves as learners. There is tremendous ado about the nobility and urgency of the profession and discussions take high sounding circles around a single point: teachers are like god. Well the truth is, they aren’t. And I’d insist they shouldn’t be. They’re vulnerable, imperfect, wishful and hopeful human beings and that’s all that can make them relatable. Let’s face it. They may not impend change in the world but they certainly can facilitate it by being their best beautiful in classrooms, wherein they cease to be ‘sources of knowledge’ and persist to be ‘facilitators of discovery’.
I’ve had days when I have questioned my ability to accelerate the unlearning required before we begin to learn what we can do as teachers. But all it takes is a moment and I’m sure to handhold the community towards it, hoping that one day all schools will have teachers who ask more than they tell, see more than they show, understand more than they expect to be understood, and learn more than they expect to teach. Hoping that every teaching and learning experience will designed to suit the context, and to create experiences and to empower what already exists.