THIS REFERS to the article "The attributes of a successful teacher" (Open Page, January 1) by Purnendu Ghosh. Here I attempt to add some more attributes that a teacher should possess to do full justice to the noble calling, i.e. teaching profession. Perhaps, the adjective "noble" may sound a cliché. But in the absence of a better or fitting word, it has been made use of. Before I chip in with my ideas, I feel it proper to convey the point that I see eye to eye with the writer on the basic thrust of his argument. But there is a score, where I beg to differ with him. Speaking about the inbuilt mechanism of the education system, Mr. Ghosh made use of the phrase "Getting rid of the incompetent." For one thing, I do not make out what he does precisely mean by this phrase. If he means that the incompetent students should be left out to fend for themselves, certainly one has a point to differ and debate with him. No sensitive civil society, no education system of democratic spirit can afford to do it. It may be that it has been the situation for a long time. But to provide an ideological veneer to that state of affairs is not acceptable. For another, the system has a greater responsibility towards the weak. To cap it all, there is always a big question: What is meant by competence, that is acceptable to all? Besides, as the people are differently abled, a teacher has to acknowledge this reality and see to it that everyone's talent is fine-tuned and is motivated to perform to one's optimum level.
Coming to some other attributes of a successful teacher, one thinks, it is not beside the mark if one does make a mention of reading habit. A teacher has to be up to date, in the core subject that he/she is supposed to teach. Plus, it is abundantly fruitful and absolutely essential, if one has a sufficient feel for the general trend of ideas in different disciplines of knowledge. As the borders of knowledge are getting dissolved now, it helps a teacher a lot in putting his students a cut above the rest. It helps one in providing a comprehensive touch to the entire learning process. The second attribute that I would love to see in every teacher is, he should absorb the true ethos of our culture and the progressive spirit enshrined in our Constitution. It is expected of him that the same values be instilled in the young. That is the only insurance, or one would as well say assurance, for the progress of this country in the spirit of harmony and amity. By it, does one mean that every teacher should become a political activist? Definitely not. Respect for the Constitution is not politics. It is a responsibility. One may begin a debate as to what the true ethos of our culture is. With the moral police around, for sure it has become a hot topic. Now that The Argumentative Indian of Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate, is out in the bookstalls, one is hopeful that the debate about the true Indian culture is no more a close call; and it has come to a close.
Capacity to simplify
To conclude, it is in order in this context if one calls to mind one more basic virtue of a successful teacher, i.e. "the simplification of the complex." The capacity for simplification, the competence for harmony of ideas coupled with the inner self-assurance in the classroom go a long way in making one tick as a good teacher. If one loves to become a great teacher, the final rider is "one must love the calling itself" with an immense passion, whether one has drifted into it unwittingly or stepped into it wittingly.