IntroductionThe school teacher is the most important person in the value chain of an entire society. His or her knowledge,skill-sets, and attitudes towards teaching will make a big difference, more so, at the secondary and higher secondary levels.
It goes without saying that the teachers need to go far beyond the confines of the prescribed syllabus to get this done. Some of the most pragmatic methods will revolve around a) Seeking advanced domain knowledge and sharing it b) Playing a role in career planning of students c) Inculcating a spirit of inquiry in children d) Enabling purposeful parental involvement in education and e) Taking education to others in the neighbourhood.
Seeking advanced domain knowledge and sharing itOver three decades ago, I studied in a very good CBSE school in Tiruchirapalli, housed within the township of BHEL, a very good public sector organization. At this R. S. Krishnan Higher Secondary School Trichythe Psychics teacher would talk about a career in ISRO. There was one guest lecture by an expert from ISRO. We were taken in batches to the local bank by the English teacher and made to interact with the bank manager when we were only in the sixth standard.
By the 9th standard, we knew about the CAT examination to qualify for admission to the IIMs. The entire atmosphere was such that we had the right exposure at the right time. We also had any number of meetings with the professional managers of BHEL who would give us loads of information about the outside world. We had trips to historical places like Poombukar in Tamil Nadu, and the Tamil teacher would draw literary references to the same in a big way. Hence, there was nothing that was confined only to the syllabus. To this day, this foundation has helped each one of us. Alumni of the school are spread throughout the world. This is exactly what every teacher should do. Once this is done, the rest will follow.
Playing a role in career planning of studentsThis has become even more important in the changed scenario. Post COVID-19, the entire world economy will be in a state of flux and only some industries will see a drastic reversal in fortunes. For example, when the fear of the virus is totally gone, the hotels will open up. Domestic tourism will go up by leaps and bounds.
Hence, it will be fine for the teacher to educate the children on various career options. For example, the teacher could, perhaps, talk about Pondicherry University which has a full-fledged department of Tourism department studies, which offers the full-time MBA( Tourism) course. The same department also offers a doctorate degree in Tourism.
All this assumes that the teacher becomes knowledgeable and collects a lot of facts. When young minds are inspired and know the scope of particular courses, the teacher would have sown the seeds of a bright and optimistic future. The most essential task of any teacher is to keep on feeding information about various courses to the students. When this is done, the student starts looking at a much wider perspective of the entire world. He or she would obviously share such information with his or her parents and the good word would spread around. More often than not, many a career does not take off, only because the parents are ignorant. Today's teachers have a big role in bridging this gap and getting things done. It is also imperative that career fairs are conducted at least twice every year in two different schools of the same district on a pan-India basis.
Inculcating a spirit of inquiry in children When a child starts being inquisitive and curious, he or she starts a big journey of learning. The teacher has a big role in not reprimanding those who do not score one hundred marks or even ninety and above in each subject. It might so happen that the child has some talent that goes unnoticed by both parents and the teachers. Later on, through his or her own hard work, the particular person becomes what he or she is today. The struggle would have been a big struggle but the persistence and hard work would have paid off. This has happened to Mr. Murugadoss, a director of repute of many hit Tamil movies, and a few with good messages as well. He had origins that he could not boast of and he also did his graduation from a college in a non-metro location. He came to Chennai with nothing but fire in his belly.
Though such cases are rare, the case study is to highlight the most important fact that the spirit of inquiry will normally start with something that is deeply hidden in the person. The student will obviously be immature to understand the fuller implications at such a young age. Nevertheless, the teacher has to inculcate the spirit of inquiry that should revolve around the natural innate talent of the child.
Enabling purposeful parental involvement in education Though the regular parent-teachers' meeting is important, that by itself does not complete the task. For example, the purposeful parental involvement can happen by inviting one high performing parent, who would be a top executive in an MNC, to talk about his or her experiences and the challenges of working in such companies to the plus one and plus two students. This will open up their minds and make them more ready for the challenges. They would also go about gathering more data about the particular company and all similar companies. The vital exposure is what is needed and this agenda will be taken care of.
Taking education to others in the neighbourhood Any good teacher also needs to serve the society. For example, if the teachers of a good CBSE school are able to share all the knowledge along all the dimensions mentioned above, with the plus two students of a local Government school and talk in the local language, they would be laying the foundation of a good social change. We need several such initiatives to make the contribution of teachers complete in a changed scenario.
Conclusion What we need in today's conditions are teachers with a passion to go far beyond the confines of their syllabus. Some perspectives of doing so have been discussed in the aforesaid paragraphs. The discussion is only indicative. More innovations may emerge in the real world, as one goes along. The time to act is now.