The famous poet W.B. Yeats once said, “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”
Traditionally, a teacher has always been viewed as the focal point in the education process – the one around whom the student’s entire academic journey revolves. However, over time, the perception of education has changed considerably, shifting from a one-sided endeavour to an extremely interactive and participative process. Consequently, a teacher’s role has also transformed from an instructor to a facilitator, who helps the learner become self-reliant.
So, in the modern context, what is a teacher’s role in a student’s life? Here’s a glimpse:
A Human Reservoir of Knowledge
A teacher is the students’ primary window to the world, second only to their parents and immediate family. Thus, the teacher becomes a human reservoir of knowledge in a particular subject and in the concrete world in general. Knowledgeable teachers understand not only their subject in particular but also its relation to other disciplines. Teachers employed at reputable schools encourage students to acquire knowledge and then apply it in their everyday lives in the most optimal ways possible.
A Role Model: Setting Examples Explicitly and Implicitly
Students require not only abstract knowledge but also tangible examples of worldly wisdom. At their best, teachers embody their lessons by practising what they preach, not only in terms of the subject they teach but also in general real-life scenarios. Thus, a good teacher would explicitly teach students to report to school on time and set an implicit example by never being late to lectures.
Study Mode On: Setting a Conducive Learning Environment
Regardless of how intrinsically motivated the teacher and students may be, optimal learning cannot occur in an unfavourable environment. Thus, one of the responsibilities of a teacher is to ensure that the classroom environment is made conducive to learning. This process is initiated by the school, which typically provides teachers with premier facilities like advanced educational technology and the necessary resources. However, a teacher takes on from here and utilises these amenities and makes the most of them, facilitating quality education.
A Mentor Beyond the Classroom
While the classroom is the primary point of contact for teachers and students, a teacher’s role extends beyond imparting knowledge in a classroom for a stipulated period. Teachers also often provide individual attention to students, resolving their specific queries after class and devising strategies suitable to each student. Besides academics, a teacher also plays the role of a mentor, listening to the students’ grievances and providing advice and guidance as required.
A Support System to Parents
From providing their children with the best facilities to actively being involved in their everyday lives, parents shoulder an incredibly huge responsibility. Sending their children to primary school offers them hope in the form of a disciplined and structured environment. Teachers reduce the parents’ burden by helping their children adapt to the world and become global citizens in the modern era. This support system is indispensable in reassuring parents of their children’s mental, emotional and social well-being.
Mental Health Matters: Empathising, Observing and Reaching Out
The mind and the body are like the two integral wheels in the bicycle of life – neither can function independently of the other. Good schools not only pay head to physical fitness but also the mental well-being of their students. Teachers play the role of active observers and empaths, noticing even the slightest behavioural changes in students and providing them with a comfortable space to express themselves. Such intuitiveness ensures that they do not feel apprehensive about sharing their thoughts and feelings – sometimes even the ones they cannot share at home. If required, teachers also help students to seek professional help for their mental health issues.
Challenging Minds and Pushing the Envelope
Lastly, teachers constantly help students to shed their comfort zones and strive to achieve new pinnacles. They identify their students’ unique talents and capabilities and encourage them to pursue the same. Nurturing students’ interests and fuelling their passions helps them realise their potential and exert efforts in the right direction. Teachers become motivators, cheerers and facilitators for students, both in terms of academics and extra- and co-curricular activities.
For most students, teachers are cocoons that nurture the students, facilitating their metamorphoses from caterpillars to butterflies. Looking back, almost all of us would remember the teachers who may have walked the extra mile to facilitate quality education and support us when we needed it the most. Esteemed schools understand the value of this association and provide a conducive environment for this interaction to blossom.