The Star : Sunday November 28, 2010
TEACHER TALK By NITHYA SIDHHUEducation is the key to success but that can be attained only if teachers engage their students with the right approach and dedication.
ONE of the most moving stories I’ve read on the power of education is the one told by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Thomas L. Friedman in his book The World Is Flat.
In the book, he wrote about Abraham George, an Indian national who had pursued his higher studies at New York University (NYU), and later set up a software company in the country.
Years later, Abraham decided to return to India to start not only a journalism school for adults but an elementary one for children in a village outside Bangalore.
It was a school meant for only children from the untouchable caste, and what Abraham had offered to these children was an introduction to the flat world – a world-class education that would make them both computer-literate and proficient in today’s global language — English.
Abraham’s goal was to ensure these children aspired to “careers and professions that would have been totally beyond their reach for generations”.
Even if their names were a give-away of their caste and status, their education and social graces would eventually allow them to make their way anywhere in the world. As for their skills, he wanted them to be of a class of their own.
Educating these children was possible simply because of the foresight and generosity of a man like Abraham. He chose, as Friedman put it, “not only to see the greatness in each of the children, but, more importantly, got them to see the greatness in themselves while endowing them with tools to bring them out.”
He did it by literally working with the untouchables, who were from the bottom rung of society, and he managed to turn them around into educated and respectable human beings. For those who are reading this article especially the teachers amongst you, will find yourselves reflecting on your career as a teacher.
As a teacher, do you feel the power to change the fate of those whom you teach?
Some teachers think, “I’m just one person. What difference can I make?”
Some will say, “The students aren’t even listening to me. It’s a waste of my time to teach them.”
There are also many young teachers who, because of their inexperience, lack confidence and self esteem.However, one must remember that every person has to make a fresh start. As a teacher, you will certainly have a positive influence over your students. That is why you should never feel discouraged. Continue to encourage, motivate, inspire and guide your students. Sometimes, it is not the efforts of one teacher alone, but that of several teachers that make a child a better person and student. The changes and results in their young charges may not be immediate, but they they will happen over time. However, teachers should remember that they can also scar a student for life and kill their enthusiasm over the manner in which they conduct themselves in class.
It will show in their manner, voice, personality and attitude. They may not have the same level of influence in every child, but certainly, there will be change. Teachers also have the rare distinction of helping in narrowing the divide between rich and poor and by empowering and enlightening their students.
It is education that gives the young the same opportunities to succeed. Empowerment is about knowledge gained from an education – the flowering of the intellect, the honing of inherent talent, the mastery of skills and the broadening of the mind.
With an education, a young person can move forward in life, so long as he is diligent and willing to learn.
But, without education, all he will know is what the world serves him in the street. If there’s a resolution teachers need for the coming year, here it is — resolve to teach well and notice the positive changes in your students