Teaching – An art that continues to amaze

By Arun Krishnadas

Edited by Shambhavi Singh,Senior editor ,The Indian Economist

There are a few faces that get imprinted on our hearts, that of our parents, close friends and more importantly that of our teachers. As the saying goes, “Mother will show you father, father will lead you to your teacher, and your teacher will open your eyes to God”…

Teaching is seen world over as a profession of excellence. It is no exaggeration when I say this. The likes of Isaac Newton, to Albert Einstein and our own C.R.R Rao give a clear picture of its eminence today. Just as it would follow, teaching is not an easy profession. It requires expertise in several aspects such as conceptual clarity, the ability to impart knowledge effectively, and create the right environment that facilitates learning. Hence, there is no doubt about why there is a constant debate on improving the teaching standards. But who is a good teacher?

There is no single definition of a good teacher. While no one can be a perfect teacher, the general requirement remains that a good teacher is one who motivates his or her students to learn, from love rather than by fear. Take for instance the classic example of Walter Lewin, professor emeritus of Physics at MIT. Anyone who has read his book, “For the love of Physics”, will know the kind of hardships he has undergone in his life. But he himself says that the joy he experiences from teaching at MIT is enough to block out those experiences once and for all. Students love his classes, and he has been known to execute stunts in class relying purely on his belief in physical principles. But he attributes his success as a teacher to his never-dying passion to pass on knowledge effectively, for which he is known to spend almost 2 hours in preparation for every hour of lecture he presents! The world has not often born witness to such levels of dedication, but when it has, the result has always spread joy which is quintessential to progress, ‘the joy of learning’.

We often curse our teachers for being indifferent or incompetent. The one thing we tend to forget is that the art of each teacher is different. The way Walter Lewin teaches Physics might not be the best way to teach say a subject like Linear Algebra in Mathematics. Teachers tend to put in all their experience to convey the subject matter to students. They might fail in the process, but their act in itself is an art that needs appreciation, the full extent of which we can only be appreciated when we are on the other side of the table.

There are individuals today who have attained supreme positions in the society. Behind each of them there exists a driving factor, a factor that has shaped their notions and shown them the right direction. They are the people who have given up various other options, and chosen this path for the benefit of the future generation. They are the true picture of education as Einstein pointed out, “the ones who learn, relearn and learn again.” They are teachers. Respect them for they are artists who continue to amaze.

Arun  is a reserved individual, who places his interests at par with those of others around him. He is determined when he sets onto something, but still spends long amounts of time introspecting on his decisions, whatever be the results. He likes to spend time with friends, reading books, watching sports and films, writing his heart out and setting time tables for a better tomorrow. He believes that for some things, there’s today, and for others there’s tomorrow, be it the one that comes or the one that doesn’t.