Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Low morale of teachers

An article in one of the web magazines portrayed a very gloomy picture of the condition of the teachers in USA. As per the report, the morale of the teachers is all time low and this is proving negative to this once known noble profession - teaching. I was prompted to write this article by another incident in which I was asked an innocent question. During a program organized to felicitate the teachers who had excelled in their profession, the response of the audience was not quite up to the mark. One person asked, why there was least enthusiasm in this program whereas in a similar program yesterday there was a lot of happiness and energy. I recalled the article mentioned above and realized what was reported with reference to other country`s reference, was that also true for our country? This thought scared me because the teacher in the country of Saints and Sufis have always been given importance and were considered to be more important than God or the parents of the children they were given charge of. This forced me to read the article again and I realized what is happening in that country today would happen with us in near future. The morale of the teachers is very important for the better future of the country and the society at large. The study done shows, a large number of teachers are leaving the profession and not many university graduates are motivated to join the teaching profession. There may be many reasons for this situation but a few of them mentioned by the writer are the recent ones. The reforms introduced in early eighties of the twentieth century in which more measurable objectives were introduced opened the door for the people outside teaching community to enter in this area. The smart class rooms became more important than the teachers. The policy makers moved from human resource to software/hardware resources. The entry of the corporate and the businessmen added to the wound and the problem became more serious over a period of time. The role of a teacher was reduced to be the helper in the classrooms and the teaching learning process was taken over by the machines. The teachers who used to be the part of curricula were reduced to mere spectator to what was to be done by them. The flexibility which the teachers used to have was tightened by the requirement of achieving measurable learning objectives. This left teachers as almost unwanted entity in the life of the students. Slowly and gradually the society also started ignoring the very important role played by the teachers in the life of the students. In this age of information, knowledge was pushed to the second place.
Though we do not have any such study conducted in India but the general feeling among the people and the teaching community is no different than what has been reported from USA. Similar probably is the situation in other so called developed countries and also those developing countries that follow the developed countries blindly. In the past two three decades, the role of the teacher has been redefined in India also. There is nothing wrong in changing with time but going diametrically opposite is not good. The role of the teachers cannot be replaced by the technology as some of the countries are doing. We have been hearing in the training programs about the teachers being told (rather threatened) that change yourself otherwise robots will come to replace you. This is really humiliating for the teachers. Why should people not think that if the motivator has low self esteem  then how can he/she motivate the students? There are so many things which have been taken away from the teachers. The so called software companies claim to have produced something which can do miracle with the children. In the name of making the question paper setting and evaluation easy the teachers have been left without doing anything self. The people who have never been to the classroom direct the teachers to administer test set by them. The most unfortunate part of the entire change process has been the testing part. I have been mentioning the same frequently in some other context also that testing became more important than real learning. We should have fair idea of the progress made by the students but doing it every day does not make any sense. The children and the teachers should be given ample time to overcome the problems they might be facing. Judging the teachers only on the basis of the measurable objectives has led to the low morale state of the teachers and also the children became the tool for experimentation.
For this condition the teachers themselves are also to be held responsible. Some of them felt quite happy when a portion of their job was taken by the machines. They created a distance from their students, interacting with them to the least and never understanding them. I would put it in the form of example from physics. The Hubble`s law states that the speed of galaxies moving away from each other is directly proportional to the distance between them. As this distance was created by chance (in the name of change and reforms) but then it became a permanent feature. We know it very well that most of the problems come up due to communication gap and that is what precisely has happened. While undergoing the teachers' training we were told about the behavioral objectives to be achieved and that to me was the most important goal to be achieved by the teachers. But now evaluation at every step is eating away the life of the students and the teachers. Again let us take an example. There was a child who was not able to perform well in the examination though was always present in the school and respectful towards the teachers. One of her teachers realized that the child was not able to copy something from the board. She advised the parents to get her check up done and a problem was discovered soon after which was treated immediately. With the follow up and the treatment, the child started performing well. Interestingly for the poor result of the same child the teacher in the previous class was given a memo. What I want to emphasize here is that assessing the children and the teachers everyday or very often would not lead us to better situation. The evaluation and assessment is important but excess of everything is bad. The policy makers and the society should realize that there would be no stable learning without motivated teachers. The teachers should also sit and realize, what made them less relevant in the life of their students. We should do away with the desire of quantity and try to focus on quality of learning. The use of technology is important but that should not drive the people towards depression. The policymakers and the government should take initiative to bring back the glory of teaching profession. Most important role in this regard can be played by the teachers themselves. We know that any society will flourish if there are good, committed and motivated teachers around. The teachers’ who sacrifice for the cause of their students. The civil society should also remember that no technology would have been available if there were no human teachers to guide those students. Let us try that our teachers do not lose their morale and remain fully prepared and motivated to achieve the goals set for the betterment of the children and the nation.

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