In the present day, especially since our Independence from the British rule, stuffing the brains has come to mean education while completely ignoring the soul / character / heart of the student! Before independence, much before that, they introduced the educational system in this country with the immediate aim of inserting English and making us all clerks in their reign, business and bureaucratic organizations, as an avenue for local employment.
The long term goals were to keep us subjugated and destroy the educational systems existing in this country and keep us as slaves and bonded labour forever! But it was done so intelligently like baiting the fish to take a bite and get hooked! After independence we wished to change the system and it did change, but for the worse! There is neither education nor a system. I am not talking about the syllabus only, but that also! Further complication has crept in, in the name of secularism. Secularism in India is a multi-headed Hydra! Blatant corruption and vote-bank politics has entered every walk of life in India, further complicated by all varieties of casteism and the quota system!
The academic qualification and merit is not the basis of selection as student but graded quota for various castes is the criteria! So you can be less qualified and may find being selected if your caste is one of the Backward Classes or the so called minorities. So every family claims itself to be a minority on the basis of the Grand-Father's name! Thus intrinsically divided in to many groups which do not see eye to eye on any issue, we are bracketed together as one huge behemoth as 'the Hindu' and suffer in the bargain!
The trend is to claim oneself to be a non-Hindu for one's share of the pie! So then, it is a huge muddle' wherein power of physical threat, bargaining power of money and readiness to give and take bribe in the name of donation and pure bribe have a field-day! Such threat is not only for admission for enrolments only but for passing examinations too! When the students are behaving like this, the management and the teacher's community are also interested in their individual pecuniary benefits, whatever the means!
This is further complicated by the State and Central Governments not knowing as to where to draw the line between integration and differentiation and favouritism based on vote-bank politics, go in for more and more reservations for various minorities that the end result is one of 'confusion confounded'!
What has suffered in the bargain is that the equation between Guru and Sishya has gone from the ideal to doldrums! What was the cause of a golden culture for the world to look at with awe and admire, has been so eroded that one is afraid of thinking as to what the future holds! Then it is sad to think of the fact that the present day governments in India are not even aware of the need to correct the erosion. It is true that there are problems galore in all directions.
Still it is education where we need to bring in discipline, morality, good attitude and behaviour if it is to make some difference in the minds of future generations, isn't it? I do not know if my talk now is going to make any dent on the situation, I do not know! The only thing we can do is to go back to the stories of the past, if only as a temporary relief!
Though I am saying that we have to go back to the old stories of the past, I wish to say a few things to the present day teachers as an appeal from my side. Since it is they who have come to this profession of teachers, first of all they should realise that even if they have become teachers as a means of earning a living, they should be first of all happy that they have landed in a very noble profession. If they take this job as an opportunity that they have been blessed with to contribute positively for the future of this Nation, my talk so far will not be a waste. Yes they are not having all the time as the Guru in the olden times when they lived together in the same Guru Kulam.
So they should not come to the conclusion that they are to strictly stick to the lesson plan and that they cannot make an impression on the attitude and behaviour of the student at all. As the student is hearing what the teacher says, he is also watching how the teacher behaves on various occasions. The students are at an impressionable age and so what you say and how you say it is also going to make an impression. Even in a not so very bright student, the teacher's behaviour is going to leave an impression. So, if the teacher is going to be just paying attention to the lesson plan and ignore student behaviour, he will be doing a disservice to his calling.
To be an epitome of what we teach in terms of one's own behaviour and basic attitudes is one important aspect. The other part is to be sincere and serious in preparation, delivery and ensuring that the subject taught is well received. To teach distractedly in the class and then arrange to conduct special classes as private tuition for some remuneration, is basically wrong and Adharma! That will be amounting to a sin that having come to a noble profession you manipulate it for some pecuniary advantage to oneself, which will prove to be a 'one way ticket to Hell and damnation'!
They should be afraid of even thinking on such lines. People in other professions make use of their subject of education only partially. Think of a B.Sc. Chemistry as an officer in the Army or a Head Clerk in an office! Their knowledge in Chemistry will be an utter waste. But teaching is one line wherein we make full use of what we have learnt as its capital! While being a teacher one can continue to be a student and keep enhancing one's knowledge base.
Since he is teaching the same subject repeatedly, he is also reading it again and again and it is likely that some grey areas earlier are likely to become clearer, especially in higher studies. Also if one were to refer to ever new books of reference, especially in subjects which are continuing to expand; one is likely to keep gaining greater insights. The questions asked by intelligent students will also further enhance and enlarge the knowledge base of the teacher to his and the student's advantage! They can thus deserve to be known as Masters by their acumen, teaching ability and in their ability to instil the subject deeply in the minds of the students.
There was this PouraNik who used to give lectures on PurãNãs. He went to a King to tell him about Bhagawatam as he was keen on the awards and presents the King is likely to give. After some time, the King was intelligent enough to notice that PouraNik had not imbibed any of the qualities of Bhakti or Gnãna or Vairãgyam. So he gave him some gifts and told him to come back after reading the Bhagawatam once again. PouraNik did that. This time he got some more awards and was once again told to read the PurãNa once again.
This happened 21 times! After the 21st time the PouraNik did not return to the King's court for many days. The King sent his men to investigate. They reported that the PouraNik had given up this worldly life and gone to the forest for deep meditation so as to get Bhagawat Anubhava, forsaking all his worldly interests. Now the King decided that now is the time to go to the PouraNik as a Guru! He went and located this Guru, surrendered to him and requested him to now tell him about the Bhagawatam. The PouraNik was deeply merged in his self that he did not even notice the presence of the King.
But eventually he did recognise the presence of the King and was grateful to the King for opening his mind and eyes to the deeper meanings of what one has to learn from study of the Bhagawatam! So, he did lecture the King on the PurãNa and all the subtle points of the PurãNa in a way that will make a deep impression on the King! So goes the story. I am not suggesting by any chance that the teachers should study their subject matter so deeply that they should give up teaching as a profession! (Saying this PeriyavãL laughs deeply!)
I told you the story of the PouraNik and the King to underline the idea that when the speaker fully understands the inner meaning of his talk, then the audience will also be enabled to absorb the teaching better. Isn't there a vast difference between chanting without understanding and doing so with understanding the meaning of the mantra being chanted? That is why MaNikka Vãsagar differentiates between these two when he says, 'solliya pãttin poruL uNarndu solluvãr', as compared to 'mumbo-jumbo' by others! That PouraNik had repeatedly iterated study of Bhagawatam 21 times and was motivated to give up worldly involvement!
Other subjects are not like that and so nobody will be suddenly urged to give up their teaching profession! Even if we were teaching religious books, we who are so rooted in normal life, involved in all these pulls and pressures, will not be suddenly impelled to abdicate and resign! When we fully comprehend what we are talking about, it will enhance our instructional abilities and our students will be benefitted. That is what is expected of us and that will suffice. It is not only that the students should be studying with absolute concentration and sincerity, so also the teacher should be whatever the number of iteration. In higher studies of abstruse and nebulous subjects, iteration may also lead to greater understanding!
One more thing. While the teacher should be keen on complete transfer of what he knows to the student, one word of caution. First of all the teacher should have patience and not be in a hurry. If you try to impress the student with the vastness of your knowledge or try to stuff all that in to the student, nothing may get in! Here we should remember the example of the Hundi (aka the piggy-bank) which has a small hole for the coin to be inserted! You may have a bag full of coins. You cannot put them all in one go in to the Hundi, but only one by one! You have to check if the coin you inserted earlier has gone in or stuck at the entrance may be by touching it or by shaking up the Hundi.
Similarly the level of the student's absorption should be checked by way of question and answers. Then go for the next item. As a teacher you have to be balanced, patient, not easily provoked to anger and be encouraging. I do agree that it is difficult to teach some students who are slow on the up-take. But you will agree that it is more difficult to teach a student who is a little too smart! Even in the example I have quoted about Hundi and student's in-take, I know that the problem is more as the teacher is not dealing with one but many students.
But still, the teachers should realise that they are working in a noble profession of preparing the young to take over the responsibilities as future members of the society and citizens of the Nation! I said all this because of the important fact that the teachers are shaping those who are going to shape the future! It is teachers who should be insisting that the syllabus and subject content should be aimed at enhancing both knowledge and character of the student! In the olden times, the system catered for it and presently it does not.
Jaya Jaya Shankara, Hara Hara Shankara!