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The many avatars of teachers

Wednesday, 5 September 2012 - 4:01pm IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: dna

They have now donned the mantle of friend, philosopher and guide.

A teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops. Henry B Adams sums up perfectly the relationship that bonds every teacher to their taught, eternally. Gone are the days when a ‘teacher’ could make a student break out in cold sweat even in their dreams. That image of masterji — replete with a well-oiled slick stick in their hand and an equally cold soul-piercing stare — has since been replaced by the likes of Chandni Chopra (assayed by Sushmita Sen in Main hoon Na) or Raj Aryan (Shah Rukh Khan in Mohabbatein).

Teachers today have taken classroom teaching to the next level — teaching their taught as guides, friends and philosophers. The new crop prefers to sit beside their students, not away from them on an elevated seat, and would guide them with a hand on their shoulders — an unimaginable situation some two-odd decades back.

Teachers were almost synonymous with ‘terror’ once, more out of fear than respect. However, the thin line between respect and fear for teachers has become more significant now, particularly at a time when Right to Education (RTE) has become a legal provision. Awareness programmes have also led to the transformation in the relationship between a teacher and a student.

Child counselor and consultant clinical psychologist, Suresh Majumdar said: “Nowadays, teachers are given special behavioural training in BEd course. There has been a change in the mindset of the teachers due to the frequent workshops on teaching. Seminars are being held regularly to give the teachers insight on their role as facilitators of knowledge.”

“There is a special course on psychology of children and the right ways to treat them. NCERT has also worked on positive behavior towards children,” she said.

“Earlier, people used to relate discipline with punishment, but now they use firmness to tackle a child rather than being strict. Internal discipline is much more important than external discipline,” said Majumdar.

Teachers today do not demand respect by standing at higher level, but earn it through their camaraderie and bonding. This bond, which is more of an admirable friendship, remains intact for the rest of life for a student. It boosts a student’s personality too.

Banashree Jena, geography teacher in Maharaja Agrasen Vidyalaya says, “A student blossoms in a friendly environment and can be more confident of discussing his feelings and thoughts openly. We have to keep ourselves on their level. Today, they are more tech savvy and we, teachers, have to become role models for them.”

Jignesh Panda, student of XI standard in the same school talked on how he bonded with his teacher. “During one of the scout camps’ campfire evening, we started talking about cricket and cars with our teacher and ended up sharing career plans. Now, after a year and half, I can walk freely to my teacher’s cabin and talk about my personal life and family problems too,” said the happy student.

Principal of Shri Ram School, Shashi Bhatt talked about corporal punishment and the need to change the system. “At present, teachers are well-informed and more understanding towards the children. Lifestyles have changed globally which has led to change in teachers’ mindsets too. Sadly, some teachers still resort to corporal punishment, like in Kheda villages, where teachers who still pick the stick to tame the kid. More and more awareness campaigns are needed to root out the menace,” she said.

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