I was listening to a Friday prayer sermon recently. The main subject was about teachers … the role they play in the development of the country and instilling the spirit of nationalism amongst the population, their sacrifices – especially those who are serving in the rural areas ( the ‘ulus’ ), their untiring efforts to educate us, in particular the young ones, and so on and so forth. I saw the smiling faces among those present (I believe they belong to the teaching fraternity). A lot was said … lots of praises and roses were presented to the teachers. And I must say they are proud, and they should be proud. After all in this age when criticism is the order of the day, praises like these are hard to come by. At that moment of time, I felt I should have been a teacher instead of someone travelling around from place to place like a wandering minstrel.
If you look at it, teaching has a very broad interpretation. Almost everyone of us is a teacher, in one way or another. In the house, we teach …. we teach our children how to behave, how and what to eat, how to play, how to have their bath, how to make friends, how to pray, how to study and many more. Telling the wife what to prepare for lunch and dinner, is also a part of teaching.
If we look back into history, and the time when teaching and learning was first introduced to the human population some 3,000 years BC in Egypt, what was being done to encourage humans to hunt and plant crops for food, was also teaching. So was the time when the elders would tell stories about the lives of their forefathers in bygone years, is also a form of teaching. In fact a number of our acts and activities are forms of teaching. And we learned teaching through our experiences.
But today, the teaching population is very fortunate and lucky. There are universities and colleges where teaching is a major stream. They can do their degrees – a bachelors, a masters or even a doctorate degree. Here they learn the history, concept and principles of teaching, and of course the responsibilities attached to it. In other words they are exposed to everything about teaching. Once they graduate, they should be a total and knowledgeable teaching person, and a well prepared one at that, to start their career.
In the rural areas, the teacher is some one who is much needed. He is some one respected. He is there to lead and be a leader. At times he even performs the act of a counselor. We can say that he is ‘a man of all seasons’. You need him, he is there. You need his advice, he is there to give it. He is the perfect person to be called ‘a teacher’.
Unfortunately, not all has the charisma and characteristics mentioned. When you talk about the teaching profession today, you are bound to include the words like ‘commitment‘, ‘responsibilities‘, ‘personal activities‘, ‘business deals‘ or even ‘political affiliations‘ . Or in some extreme cases words like ‘involvement in fights‘, ‘being beaten up by students‘, would surface. When you mentioned the word ‘tuition‘ , then you would come across such questions as ‘How much is he charging for a subject?‘, or ‘Is the tuition class after his school session?‘ , or ‘Has he complained about his salary?‘ and like phrases.
Then we begin to think, what’s wrong with these group of teachers. Or what went wrong? Or, are they happy with their job? Or, are they getting enough from teaching? Or, is teaching their choice career, or is it ‘a career or last resort‘. Yes these are some of the questions cropping up in our minds from time to time, especially those of us with school going children.
On our part, what should we do? I personally believe, we have to take a very serious look at our own role as parents. If the situation persists, then the only alternative we can take is to get more involved in the education of our own children. After all they are ours … and we shouldn’t be pointing fingers. Probably time and a forward looking administration will solve these ‘ailments‘. We should not look back, but we have to and must look into the future and start asking questions like, is our education system today sufficient to meet the needs to prepare our younger generation for the future, and how about total education …. or are we prepared to do a complete overhaul of our teaching methodologies and philosophies.
I leave you at this point to take a deep breath, and start thinking …. thinking about the future of our children … their hopes and aspiration to be at par with their peers in the global scene.
(Artikel ini telah dipaparkan dalam tahun 2009 dalam satu dari blog terawal kami – LOOKING AROUND)