Importance of Celebrating Teacher’s Day
Teacher’s day is around the corner again. Every year, all the schools celebrate teacher’s day by organizing cultural programs & felicitation ceremonies for their teachers. It is marked as a day dedicated to the teachers, honoring their hard work, and thanking them for their invaluable services to the community. Everyone has at least one teacher in our lives that has made a huge impact in the way we have led our lives. We all have stories about how we interacted with them, got influenced by them, relied on them for decision making, and a lot more. The day also becomes an occasion to interact with them informally and get to know their lighter side. But, every year, teacher’s day also becomes important for various other reasons of reflecting on the concerns in their professional field, incorporating better ideas to improve teaching standards and a lot more.
The historical background of the teacher’s day tells us a lot about the importance of the occasion. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a great scholar, upon being approached by his friends for his birthday celebrations, requested that the day be used instead for celebrating the teachers around the country. Thus, his birthday i.e. 5th September, came to be marked as teacher’s day, since 1962.
The story behind the celebration is illuminating because of the importance it places on the profession of teaching. Even though teaching is considered a noble profession, it is losing it’s value in the society today. Hence, the occasion provides us with a perfect excuse to reflect on the problems of the teaching community.
Historical significance of Teachers in Indian Tradition
In relation to India, teachers have had a crucial role to play through different times in history. Indian tradition has always valued the role of teachers as crucial to formation of a wise community. We all remember the tales of how Chandragupta Maurya, the great king, was guided in his life & actions by his teacher Chanakya. Also, we have tales from Mahabharata, where Krishna plays a teacher & guide to Arjuna, and helps him through the war. Or the tales of Guru Dronacharya and his beloved disciple Arjuna.
The tales of Ramayana also delves on the relationship of teacher & disciple. The great king Rama learns the lessons of life, kingship, art of war, etc. through Guru Vishwamitra & Guru Vasishta. There is also undertones of how Rama plays, being the big brother, also plays the role of a teacher to Lakshmana, especially during the time of their exile.
The Hindu mythology is thus full of texts that reflect on the roles of teachers as being central to the lives of all great kings. The teachers, or Gurus were revered in the society for their sacrifice in pursuit of knowledge. They carried the conscience of the society and guided kings in their actions.
The conscience keeper of society
The role of teachers has not changed a bit from ancient times to the modern time. Teachers are still the conscience keeper of the society. At all times, society goes through a lot of events that need to be preserved for better understanding of the world. It is the teachers who perform this task of keeping events alive. They play the role of change makers in society that guide the growing minds on a definite path. It is an act crucial to the existence of society. However, with modern times certain problems have cropped up that need to be resolved.
Discussing the problems of the teaching community
Considering the historical importance of teachers in our culture, and the philosophical origins of teacher’s day as an occasion of celebration, it seems rather odd to say that we need to focus on the problems being faced by the teaching community. A society that has historically cherished the central importance of teachers should ideally continue the same. However, modernity has brought with it its own set of challenges.
Today there are acute problems of shortage in number of teaching faculties, especially in remote areas, problems of adequate salaries, problems of being given enough representation in preparing curriculums, and a lot more. There is a diminishing interest among the student community in general to take up teaching as a profession. The highly lucrative jobs in other sectors of employment attract more interest that teaching jobs that cannot compared in terms of salary packages. Also, it has a lot to do with the value placed by the society on learning & teaching. The ancient stories tell us that pursuit of knowledge was a passion that knew no bounds. However, in the present structure, a comfortable material life is more desirable than certain other things. Teaching as a result, then suffers.
It is not to say then, that the teaching profession as a whole has become irrelevant in the society today. Every year we see certain teachers being awarded by the state for their invaluable & unique contributions to the society that inspire others. Also, as our personal experiences tell us, there are teachers out there still inspiring students to take up the field of academia. The private sector is also silently making great contributions by ensuring that teachers get good salaries & have access to a large audience. The lure of a wide pool of audience is the most difficult to resist for a teacher.
However, the occasion becomes important to discuss the pitfalls that are proving to be extremely difficult. India is lacking far behind today, in terms of the standards of education being offered. This occasion then also becomes crucial to recognize that the voices of the teachers are most crucial in solving the problems also. Reforming the whole education system is not some bureaucratic act. It has to be done by teachers & academics themselves. Other than being respected for their contributions, they should also be given the liberty to make changes in the way the education system works. To give them that freedom is the best form of respect that can be given to them.