Having taught for over three decades in a Delhi University college, T K MISHRA offers six ethical strategies to strengthen teaching methods and enrich the learning experience of students
Gone are the days when education was a synonym for ethical enlightenment. Today, people seek specific solutions for career problems.The demand for tutors excelling in ‘want-based’ coaching now exceeds the demand for teachers. Just like medicine reduces pain for some time but does not cure it, cramming-based tutoring offers only short-term solutions to examoriented problems. The role of a teacher traditionally has been that of a ‘guru,’ who helps students acquire knowledge, competencies, values and life skills. For teaching to be successful, teachers need to confront the social landscape and view their work positively. Their work must satisfy both teachers and students, develop their potential and allow them to reach their objectives.When teachers view their work positively and are guided by ‘ethics of care’, they get emotionally involved in the welfare of the students and are more conscientiously related to ‘self ’ and ‘society’; they cooperate more with students, and are likely to provide more learning outcomes. In the guru-sishya parampara, Indians conferred an almost divine stature on their teachers, where the respect and status of a teacher was of the highest standard. And this, at a time when teachers had no sophisticated reading and teaching materials, technological tools or fancy infrastructure. In contrast, teachers today have ready access to technology.Yet, why is the status and respect of the teacher in society eroding day by day? Many debate that our predecessors lived more ethically, maintaining a high degree of honesty, sincerity and transparency. We need to understand that respect is more important than wealth. With my 33 years of teaching experience in a Delhi University college, I have arrived at six ethical strategies that will help teachers achieve success in teaching:
1 Emotions in focus through empathy: Empathy is the capacity to recognise and feel the emotions of others.To contribute to the emotional well-being of students and to develop interconnectedness with the teaching, teachers need to empathise with students.This will lead to stronger bonds being forged between teachers and students.
2 Trust-building through transparency: Just as there is ‘worker participation in management’, a participatory system of learning, based on transparency, should be introduced. Transparency breeds openness and trust, the backbone of all relationships. An atmosphere of mutual trust between teacher and student, built by transparency in dealings, enhances the effectiveness of the teaching.
3 Heart at centre stage: A student is satisfied with life when he is at ease with the learning, is able to be in the present, devote time to personal life, and legitimise his process of selfactualisation. This is only possible when the heart does the back-seat driving in decision- making. Our body language and feelings show whether we are talking from our intellect or heart. Similarly, if teachers want to reach the heart of their students, speak from the core of your heart and show concern towards humanity and morality in life.
4 Integrity through insightful inspiration: A person with no integrity will never be a good teacher in the eyes of students. Students look for an ideal image in their teacher and they reject those who fall short of that. A teacher is distinct from other role models in society.Therefore, teachers need to be conscientious and uphold all research and publication ethics, without resorting to plagiarism.
5 Character-building through cultural heritage: If character is the root, career is the fruit. Career opens the door,but it is character that keeps it open. Character is who we are, whether anyone is watching us or not.Teachers have an important role in helping to build character by enlightening students with knowledge of cultural heritage, inculcating selfdiscipline, empathy, and commitment to uphold ethical values.
6 Spirituality through spiritual practice: Through inter-faith debate and social education, teachers can foster the spiritual quotient of their students at the foundation level itself. This will encourage students to live an integrated life in the present,where study and other life roles do not clash. The ethical way of doing things is essentially grounded in scriptural wisdom. Teachers can draw insights from those texts to enhance their teaching skills as well as the life skills of their students.
Providing meaningful teaching in a stimulating and ethical environment is a major advantage in attracting and holding on to both competent teachers as well as students.
Psychology says success comes with coherence, consistency, balance and completeness, besides one being confident of one’s raison d’etre, reason for living. By this definition, a teacher’s success in teaching is dependent on the coherence between the teacher in question and on the ethics he adopts while teaching, in his expectations, and in the values he conveys to students. It is also equally dependent on the ethical actions he performs on a daily basis. What today’s student is lacking in the virtual world is not information or knowledge but life skills or wisdom.
Trapped in worldly temptations, students now lack soft skills, emotions, feelings, passion, values, trustworthiness, and spirituality.Wisdom- based knowledge, on the other hand, can offer them soft skills and make a teacher successful in his profession uniting the innate Self with the teaching. Ethics provide a teacher a distinct competitive advantage. It helps him take on the role of an ‘enlightened master’. Let us not confuse this with empowerment and enrichment, for, those who embrace enlightenment, have nothing to sell.They simply share their inner calling and understanding by way of experiential learning. Empowerment and enrichment may breed exclusion, but enlightenment is shared through friendship. When the goal is seeking enlightenment, not just the final stage, but the journey or the process of seeking itself becomes exciting and fulfilling.
¦ Teacher’s Day is on September 5 Post your comments at speakingtree.in