Teaching is a good career option for those with a passion for creating favourable environments for learning and growing.
If you want to be a teacher, there's nothing wrong with you. Trust me. When I was doing a B.A., people politely pretended to think of it as a B.E. While I was pursuing an M.A., they thought I was kidding, and insisted that I surely meant M.B.A. And now when I am enrolled for an M.Phil., that too in English Language Education, I get asked about what I really want to do. The ‘for a living' is left unsaid, but prominently emphasised through non-verbal means. Of course, they are all well meaning people, concerned about the security of my future life, ardently hoping that I won't turn out to be an utter waste. That I see little reason to worry is another matter.
If you are really interested in teaching, it would be encouraging to know that a host of options are available to you. For starters, there is Teach for India, aiming to induct committed young people into teaching and school reform. Teach for India offers fellowships to college graduates and young professionals, who are placed in low-income schools to teach for two years. All fellows go through a rigorous training programme prior to their placement, and receive support during the course of their work.
Apart from this, there are numerous NGOs, alternative schools, and youth organisations in India constantly on the lookout for people who can teach specific subjects or impart skills to children. It is true that you will probably not end up making a lot of money, but there are other rewards.
A friend who made a switch from journalism to teaching two years ago is incredibly happy about her decision. She finds a great deal of creative challenge in the work she is doing, and would not trade this for anything else. She gets to be classroom teacher, syllabus designer, event manager, and much else.
Another friend works with dyslexic children, and is ecstatic about how she learns so much each day — about patience, caring, taking responsibility, and simply being happy. Yet another friend is a Teach for India fellow. She finds delight in every little achievement of the children she is mentoring, and is always finding ways of nurturing their talents.
While I do enjoy teaching, and I must admit here that I have done very little of it, I am increasingly beginning to see myself more as ‘educator' than as ‘teacher'. It is important to clarify that the former is not superior in any way to the latter.
The term ‘educator' draws attention to a whole range of allied roles significant in their own right — librarian, curriculum developer, textbook writer, workshop facilitator, school consultant, etc.
Education is an amazing field to be working in. It calls out to those who have a passion for creating favourable environments for learning and growing. If you find this to be your calling, much love to you. And don't worry about the money. Your creativity will figure out ways of sustaining you.
Chintan is working on a research study about encouraging children to write. He manages People in Education, an online group that connects various stakeholders in education, and facilitates the sharing of resources.
Also look up: www.teachforindia.org