Profession of Passion
Spending three years cast in the role of Principal, of not one but two schools, is something I never thought I would ever do, and yet that is exactly what I once did! The stalwart individuals who once took on the daunting task of teaching me (or trying to, at least) would probably slump into a state of irrevocable shock if they ever heard about this! I can do several things…but teaching was never on the list!
Photos by Karen Yadav Tewari and Charu Satnarine;
Copyright: Right Impact Media Inc.
I had always grumbled about education in our country, and now I was unexpectedly in charge of a tiny part of it. ‘Be the change’, I yelled, and dug my heels in. I took it on with the sort of zeal and determination usually found in bulldogs when confronted with a meaty bone…and in certain fools who believe they can change things overnight.
We wanted to move away from the ubiquitous rote learning that is so firmly hammered into the psyche of every Indian child and head toward a real understanding of every subject. It is clear that children need to relate to a subject in order to remember its contents; they need to experience the subject …just as we need to drive a car to actually learn how to drive it!
I had a lot to learn and was lucky to have a fantastic team of experienced teachers to guide me patiently as I groped my way blindly into the complicated maze of the schooling system. I am thankful that my team of teachers was open and enthusiastic to my radical (often borderline insane) ideas and they genuinely looked forward to the changes that I intended to bring about in the system…even though it meant more work for them. And thus, we embarked on the exciting and backbreaking journey of experiential learning.
Being a newbie in an alien profession offered me an outsider’s perspective on many things. I never actually realized how much hard work goes into teaching until I watched my team slog it out day in and day out – eager to work harder if it meant improving the quality of education. I never realized how much passion is required to do this job…and to keep doing it without one day cracking under the strain and snapping like a dry twig! I never realized how much we take this service for granted until I saw the ungracious attitudes of some of the parents I encountered.
The chair of headmistress offers you an incredible insight into the minds and hearts of people – some wonderful and inspiring…some not quite so nice. I think the most important lesson that we all need to understand is that good teachers, as a rule, are good people. To be around 25 screaming kids (more in some schools) for the better part of the day, every day, to watch, teach, correct, guide and smile all day, to check for lice, fevers, manners, facts, spellings and grammar…and to do all this while getting paid inadequately for somebody else’s child – you need to be a nice person, is impossible unless you are!
I stand in awe at the countless ladies and gentlemen, most of them with the same families and personal commitments as you and I, who wake up every morning and throw themselves into the fray, looking after our kids tirelessly. I think teachers deserve more respect than they receive.
‘Teacher’s Day’ is celebrated the world over as a day to show appreciation for our educators; each country has their own special date set aside for this occasion and their own special way of celebrating it. In India, it is celebrated on September 5, the birth anniversary of our second President, philosopher and academician Dr. S Radhakrishnan. This teacher’s day, we as parents should resolve to show a little more respect and understanding towards those that take it upon themselves to care for and educate our children. I salute our teachers; a fine breed of immensely strong, talented, highly intelligent, dedicated, gentle, wonderful people, the finest of whom I have had the privilege to serve alongside with love and devotion.
I thank the teachers and kids at Naval Kindergarten School, INS Mandovi (Goa) for allowing me to intrude into their space for a short, wonderful interaction and for the photographs.