In ancient India, education was imparted through the gurukul system. It was also known as the Guru-Shishya Parampara. This system had its own merits such as improvement of character, friendliness or social relationship, personality development and enhancing virtues. The Guru was a person equipped with immense information to instruct the ‘ shishya’ on any difficult and burdensome topics. The learning mostly consisted of practical applications rather than theoretical lessons. The student maintained high regard for the Guru and discipline was sought after. The objective of this type of education was to groom the youth with character and efficiency and turn him into an artisan or an accomplished person in his field of interest.
In the modern India, gurukul system has given way to application of modern technology and high level theoretical learning. Along with many merits of modern education system there are also demerits. Today’s students face lots of stress and pressure from parents, peers and teachers. This has its ill-effects on the personality of students. The socio-political and religious situation of modern India also exerts much negative impact on students.
Crime, corruption and dishonesty exhibited by the adults have infected the young minds to some extent. This blind copying of the vicious mindset has become the trend of the times. The youth dares to do any crime even beyond their age. On February 10, 2012, 15 year old class IX student of St. Mary’s Anglo-Indian School in Armenian Street, Chennai, stabbed his Hindi teacher, Uma Maheswari to death in the classroom. He was upset with the written remark on his poor performance. In a similar incident on September 28, 2016, two students from a government school in Nagloi, West Delhi, stabbed their Hindi teacher Mukesh Kumar to death in the staff room. Here too the boys took revenge on their teacher for sending adverse report about their conduct and attendance. In the present scenario, teachers are unable to correct the students fearing extreme reaction.
In such milieu of disregard and disrespect for teachers, one comes across a different story of a most affectionate and endearing guru-shishya relationship. This happened in a government school in Veligarm, Thiruvalluvar Dist, Chennai. The English teacher G. Bhagavan who had joined the school four years back had won the hearts and minds of students and parents through his very friendly and unassuming way of relationship and his own innovative method of teaching. He was a friend, companion and guru for them. He had taken his students far beyond the classroom and textbooks through his story telling and friendly enquiry about home. He taught English from class VI to X. and the skill of mastering English language. On his transfer order he came to bid goodbye to the students. The students of the entire school held him crying “we will not let you go” and they locked the gate. They enveloped him with their loving defensive wall, seeing their affection he could not hold his tears and wept. The parents also arrived to support their children. They said that if the transfer was not cancelled, their wards would be removed from the school. The Education Department in Tamil Nadu had to bow to the demands of the children and parents and the transfer was cancelled for ten days. But the students vehemently voiced their demands telling “not only 10 days but for indefinite times we will not let our Bhagvan sir go”. This is the best example of true teacher–student relationship and it is a rare occurrence yet not impossible. It is proof that teachers play vital role in the character formation and the whole personality development of the students. School is second home where the teachers are mentors and role models for them.
The Universal Solidarity Movement of Value Education for Peace, Indore, conducts three days Seminar for teachers with the theme ‘Teacher as mentor’. Teachers from different states avail this opportunity to train themselves as mentors. They, after the training, realize their role as teachers is to be a mentor and not merely imparting knowledge. They resolve to take greater responsibility and commitment to be a mentor. They understand they are teachers not by chance, but by choice. Our educational institutions need many more ‘Bhagvans’.
(Published on 02nd July 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 27)