Teaching as Celebration of Life


Teachers are the backbone of any civilization and the onus of cultivating quality citizens for tomorrow rests on them. On the occasion of Teachers’ Day we commemorate the great contributions being made by teachers across the world. The article that follows shares with us the significance of teachers and throws light on what the civilization would have been without them.

Dr. Priyaranjan teaches sociology at Central University of South Bihar, Gaya, Bihar.

I believe teaching is a celebration of life. It is a life of dedication, surrender, and sacrifice for a greater cause. Through teaching we try to make the society/world a better place to live in. Here the teacher’s role is very important. Teachers can bring about positive changes in the minds of their students by inculcating values like harmony and peace through their creative power.  The development of the student’s personality also depends on the teacher. For a teacher all students are equals. The students whom the teacher is teaching at the moment are going to be the vibrant citizens of their society. It is our task to cultivate in them social values like respect for differences, tolerance, learning from diversities, social integration, celebration of diversities, the idea of humanity and oneness, respect for all forms of life and nature etc.

We create society in our classrooms every day. Whichever values we chose to make our students learn today ultimately it is those values which are going to get reflected in the society tomorrow. If we teach our students the above mentioned social values from the very beginning; we will have a meaningful society. Whatever their profession may be, the values which we have taught them will reflect in their life and profession. Whether a student becomes poet/leader/film director/teacher/doctor/artist etc; social values will reflect through their actions: poetry/ leadership/film/health/painting etc. What else do we need for a society? A society should not be judged through its economy/economic development/achievements but it should be judged through its social values that it chooses to inculcate in its present and future generations.

Image Madanapalle – Rishi Valley

 I believe a teacher should be free from all types of ideologies although she should be awakened in this regard. Let me share one of my own experiences with you from the time when I was myself a Sociology student. One day during one of his lectures my teacher Prof. Avijit Pathak was asked a question by a student. The student asked him how it was possible that when he teaches Marx it seemed that he was a Marxist, when he taught Gandhi, it seemed that he was a Gandhian, when he taught Aurobindo it seemed that he was a follower of Aurobindo and when he taught Ambedkar   one could see Ambedkar’s pain, suffering, agony in his eyes? He requested sir to tell us something about himself. Are you Marxist or Gandhian or Aurobindite or Ambedkarite? We were really perplexed! Sir replied very beautifully-“Suppose you are in a forest. You are walking. You come near a tree. You sit under the tree. You experience it, feel it, realise something.  After some time you move ahead. Again you come near another tree. You also sat there. You learn something from this tree, feel it, realise something. After some time once again you move ahead. And this process continues on. Life is all about this. Life is all about learning. Learning through the journey of different facets of life.

The Ganga is a very beautiful river. If it stops somewhere it will lose the beauty of its flow and we will also miss the flow of this great river that has played a major role in Indian culture and civilization.

Today some of us subscribe to particular political ideologies. Some of us become Left/Right/Centre oriented. And I believe that this is not a good thing for any teacher. Yes as a teacher if I have to teach Marx to my students I will try my best but I will never convert my class into a Party class. As a teacher we have to engage with different ideologies but we should always avoid  becoming mouth organs of political parties or compelling other to accept our own political perspective.

I have seen that some of us become Gandhi/Ambedkar supporters but do not engage with our inner selves. I tell my students to engage with themselves through their work and see the possibility for a better society. I advise my students to learn many things and not politically motivated in such a way that it kills their open mindedness, their zeal for exploration. I insist that this is the time of learning from different facets of life and not being closed down by any ideology.

As teacher there is no doubt that we should have a sound knowledge of our subject but we should also have a good social character and values of tolerance, patience etc. If ‘sarvadharma sambhav (equal respect for all religions)’ is not in my character, if i do not possess the quality of tolerance, patience, honesty etc.; how can I teach all these values to my students? Preaching is not enough. Our actions should be enough to give the message.

We live in a hierarchical world that is based on the notion of power, money, status etc.  The teacher-student relationship is based on the notion of hierarchy too. Now the time has come to break the notion of hierarchy. Both the teacher and the student are engaged in a great act called learning. We learn from each other. And learning is only possible if there is dialogue between the two. Students from different backgrounds and social set ups come to a teacher. As teachers we have to understand them. Our task is like that of a gardener. The way a gardener takes care of everything; we have to also take care of our students. Yes I accept it is a very difficult task but we have to do it for a meaningful world.

Actually we are missing out on the poetry of life and because of this we are suffering from so many issues. When I talk about poetry it is also related to fables, stories, songs, prayers, laughter, wonders of life and nature etc.  We will have to focus on communication and communitarian life. Let our communication be free from all types of terms and conditions. We have to learn the art of communication. If we have free floating communication we can solve many problems of our life. We will have to take help of the great seers, poets, thinkers and leaders. By engaging with them we can get the illumination back into our lives.
The poet-saint Kabir says:
God created light of which all the beings were born
And from this light, the universe; so who is good and who is bad

The ultimate idea of life is that despite so many differences we are one and we belong to one. It becomes very meaningful when we know of some incidents of tolerance as it inspires us to move in the right direction.


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