Is teaching a noble profession?

What are the qualities teachers should exhibit through their actions that make this profession a noble one?

September 25, 2022 12:06 am | Updated 12:06 am IST

Teachers who consider themselves as belonging to a noble profession should exhibit high moral principles. 

Teachers who consider themselves as belonging to a noble profession should exhibit high moral principles.  | Photo Credit: Freepik

About a month ago, a globally well-known English Language Teaching (ELT) professional and teacher educator emailed a group of teachers asking whether we could help him with a project. He asked each of us to recall a teacher we remembered, with appreciation, and to list the things that made them so memorable. The questionnaire he sent had some thought-provoking questions. The project’s main purpose was to help define the actions and qualities of effective teachers.

While reflecting on the questions, I recalled some few recent incidents that made me ask whether teaching was really or has ceased to be a noble profession. News reports such as ‘Dalit boy dies after upper caste teacher beats him for drinking water from his pot’ and ‘Dalit boy beaten in school for failing to give answers; teacher detained’ and of teachers being booked under POCSO for misbehaving with students across the country must have shaken the conscience of people who consider teaching a noble profession. Though these incidents indicate rotten things in our education system and exhibit ignoble thoughts and dishonourable behaviour of some teachers, there are many other thoughts and actions/non-actions of modern teachers that have made teaching an ignoble profession.

Glorifying the profession

Every year, when the teaching community celebrates Teachers’ Day, we come across social media posts that glorify the profession and make teachers feel proud of their vocation. Managements of educational institutions tell teachers that theirs is the noblest profession in the world and exhort them to behave in a “noble manner”. Only critical teachers know what managements imply, when they utter the word ‘noble’. For them, noble teachers are those who are active in teaching but passive in thinking critically. To be ‘noble’ is to have or demonstrate fine personal qualities or high moral principles. Teachers who consider themselves as belonging to a noble profession should have and show many fine qualities and high moral principles.

For me, a noble teacher is one who is broad- and open-minded and fair, and ethical. Such a person is liberal in many ways. Religion, caste, race, and so on, are not barriers, as they embrace inclusivity. Today, unfortunately, some teachers are religious and caste fanatics and openly abuse people belonging to other faiths and castes. Recently, a highly qualified academic, working in a reputed institution, was in the news for hurling abuses at Dalit students during an online class, and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes has taken up the case. In a country where teachers are expected to be anti-caste crusaders, being caste-minded is definitely an ignoble characteristic.

Being open-minded

An open-minded teacher is unprejudiced and ready to accept new ideas. Such teachers have an “I am ok – you are ok” attitude and are ready to learn from others. On the contrary, others think that they are the source of knowledge and everyone should be passive listeners and nobody should question them. These teachers, with an “I am ok-you are not ok” attitude, are so prejudiced that they think that certain students cannot be academically successful and label them, causing The act of labelling by teachers causes great damage to the psyche of many students. Being prejudiced is another ignoble characteristic.

A fair teacher looks at things objectively, treats everyone equally, makes students feel valued in the classroom and wins their trust. There have been many instances of teachers favouring some students and treating others unfairly. Showing partiality or showering favouritism is another ignoble characteristic.

An ethical teacher is a real educator with characteristics such as intellectual honesty and courage. Unfortunately, today, it is rare to find teachers who can demonstrate intellectual courage. Teachers have become silent spectators of injustice that their fellow teachers and students experience. Being silent or neutral in unjust situations is also an ignoble characteristic.

Has teaching ceased to be a noble profession? If ‘yes’, who is responsible for it? No neutral answers, please.

The writer is an education columnist. Email: rayanal@yahoo.co.uk

Top News Today

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.