Teachers can make or mar

Karanvir Gupta
Each era is marked by something spectacular that has captured the interest and attention of everyone in those times. It gave everyone a purpose – from all socio-economic classes to each profession, from the youngsters to the old irrespective of gender, caste or any discrimination. It became an anchor point for all those existing in those times. ‘That something’ shaped up the culture, art and literature of that geography and in some instances of the entire world. In the recent few hundred years, these eras have been marked by the fight for equality and freedom followed by Industrial Revolution which was then followed by equal rights for men and women. Last few years have been an era of Technology Revolution and Globalisation. All of this has led to where we are today and that I call the era of abundance!
There is an abundance of everything around – more food, more cars on the road, more content (movies, or books) digital or print, more things to binge watch (you name a genre), more movements for even more causes. There is more to buy, more brands and labels to buy from, more entertainment. And still there is more poverty, more disparity, more loneliness, more diseases, and above all more of misery around. That is because all the “more” which we have is all meant to be consumed. We are not producing anything meaningful or say there is a lack of purpose in all what we are even producing – to say. We have entered into that never ending consumption cycle that keeps us busy but only in consuming though.
In an era that is marred in abundance, there is a need to drive the entire generation towards a purpose. But this can happen only when an individual knows his strengths and weaknesses. When individuals are anchored to a process of spending time with themselves and understanding their actualisation needs. It is important to focus their energy on something particular instead of being engrossed in rampant multitude of unproductive tasks. And to drive this, the role of parents and teachers becomes untenable. The need can’t be felt more than ever before. In a world that was limited in its resources and exposure – it was not that tough to impart education and a value system to a generation.
But today, it is the toughest thing to do because a child or a young adolescent or an adult for that matter is under the influence of multiple things at the same time. While teachers and parents might not be available at every stage of the lifetime; the initial few years where both of them spend quite some amount of time with the children – their role becomes super critical. I strongly believe that what a nation is today is a reflection of what teachers started imparting around 25 years ago. It is a slow gradual process where what one was taught comes into practice many years later. How we see the future of a nation depends a lot on what teachers impart to a whole new generation.
From moral values to civic manners; from basic skills to making children understand their true potential; from giving them resources to showing them the path – Teachers can do what all other vocational courses, guides or classes put together can’t achieve. When I talk to youngsters, just in school kids or even grown up adults (starting their careers) – I realise that our generation is not in for some major overhaul or over the top revolution. They are challenged by identity crisis, valuing themselves, understanding life. They are not directed by long term vision but definitely by how they can make the most of the present. May be that comes from the fact that today’s generation believes in Instant gratification. But they are strongly driven by actions – what their teachers do at class, how their parents behave at home and how their bosses handle things at workplace.
So what they are looking for is not someone who is using stick and carrot with them but has the patience to sit and talk things out with them. They are inspired by genuineness, by the fact that they need to be understood. The generation needs to be nurtured. The fact that most of us are under the direct influence of teachers/parents for a good sixteen to eighteen years of our life – their role becomes too important to drive a generation towards a purposeful and meaningful life. Some of us are blessed to have great teachers and some of us do struggle to find one. But as they say, there are no bad students, only bad teachers. It is for the teachers of this nation to inspire a generation in the best possible way they can. That is how we all will march to the next big revolution – the revolution of realising our true potential.
(The writer is an IIM Shillong Alumnus)