Sunday, September 5, 2010

On Teachers’ Day

Today is the fifth of September, an important day for teachers of India. Teachers’ Day, celebrated on the birthday of Doctor Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan is a day when students are supposed to show their respect and love to their teachers. Most schools celebrate this occasion with a nice blend of cultural programs and speeches by the teachers. Our school is no exception. Teachers’ Day is one day we look forward to with excitement. About three weeks before the occasion, the girls from class ten get allotted to different classes and take the responsibility to stage some kind of a program with the girls of that class. Those three weeks are invariably great fun for us. We skip classes and run for practice, and hide when the principal comes to look for us, and then go stealthily back to class and make up all kinds of cock and bull excuses, and have a whale of a time! The day of the program is usually a mixed bag of anxiety, excitement, happiness and sadness about the fact that the day will pass very soon. Undoubtedly Teachers’ Day is the best celebration we have in school, and only Children’s Day comes anywhere near it.

However, something else has been going on in my head. In spite of all the dancing and frolicking around that we do on Teacher’s Day, how many of us feel any real respect and gratitude for the teachers? Like any other occasion, isn’t Teachers’ Day a mere excuse to avoid work? While staging the programs, how many of us really think about whether the teachers will like it? The truth is, teachers are usually bottom of the priority list when a program is planned. And this is not something happening just in our school. I have friends, both boys and girls, from various schools around the town. When I mentioned Teachers’ Day to them, all of them started talking about the dance or play they were going to stage, because they themselves had liked it best, and the picnic they were going to have, and the various ways they had planned to entertain themselves. Not one of them told me that they were putting up something that they hoped the teachers will enjoy. I must admit, even when I was planning my class program with the girls of class ten, we decided to do something that the students were going to enjoy the most. We did not spare much thought about what the teachers were likely to feel about it.

The same thing goes on when it comes to giving presents to teachers. Most of the students who give anything to their school teachers or other tutors do it just because it is the tradition to do so, and not because they really like that teacher. Students are more bothered about what their friends will say if they give, or don’t give a present to a certain teacher. I have seen girls in my school competing each other about how many teachers they had given gifts to. It is all about winning and losing such competitions, and not about real affection or gratitude.

All said and done, however, can we put the entire blame of such behaviour on the students? Aren’t teachers partly to be blamed too? After all, teachers play a major role in forming one's character, and maybe the children are just learning from how teachers and other elders behave?   


Shilpi said...

Ah Pupu. For this one, I'll partly sit on the fence...

For now: I'm glad you did have a good time during the rehearsals for Teachers' Day. It was fun from what I remember...although the only year I remember with any clarity is Class 10. We'd sung the "So Long, farewell" song (and believe it or not I sang a line from it and all by myself...). Hmm.

I'm rather saddened to hear that gift giving and card giving have ended up being competitions. Sad and rather grotty that. I remember giving cards and only cards to very specific teachers that I liked and I don't remember any of the students giving gifts and I don't remember there being any competitions around card giving...hmm.

As for the programme bit, I'll sit on the fence for that one. For one thing, how would you know whether a teacher was going to like a programme? It might help when one knows the teachers well (or cares for some of them) - but otherwise one might as well go ahead and put up a program which seems to be entertaining and interesting and cross one's fingers...

Take care and keep writing. And I'll wish you some very good luck here - for your upcoming exams. Good to see you writing on your blog, a day before your exams...

Tanmoy said...

Dear Pupu

Thanks for writing this post. India is probably the only country in the world which celebrates teacher's day but if you look at the status of most of our schools and teachers, you would understand how much of a paradox it is.

It amazes me that our government makes government teachers work in elections, do census and what not. Neither do they get any proper training to teach nor are they left with any motivation whatsoever.

Not everyone is as self-made and focused as your Dad is. I wish there were more teachers like him. I was one of the privileged few who spent a few golden years in school in his class and library.

Every teachers day, I remember your Dad. He is one of the two teachers who influences my life to a great extent. His influence just enhanced my life.

I have never really got him any gift or not even sure whether I will be able to express my and my family's gratitude towards him. However, I wish him and everyone he loves very well.


Tanmoy da.

Arijit said...

Dear Pupu ,
Ekalavya gave away his thumb as gurudakshina.He was a real student. How many students do we find like him?

On the part of teacher I hope a real teacher doesn't want gifts.Have you read the poem GURU? These things are really a fashion now a days. Students asking for party and merely giving precious gifts to their teachers.
Take Care.

Vaishnavi said...

Dear Pupu,

I hope you had fun and were able to let your teachers know how much they mean to you. When I was in school, we used to give just cards to a few teachers we really admired. And we had a wonderful tradition in our school, for teachers' day, we students would put up programs and on children's day the teachers would! So it actually turned out in a way that each set really did put some thought into what the other set would like to enjoy. I miss school so much that I begin singing my school song at random. In college I realized how much my teachers really cared, college was a whole other world!