- The importance of the teacher.
- The ideal teacher is always a student.
- He is a master of his subject.
- He can communicate his leaming to others.
- He is a good talker.
- He exercises a healthy influence on students.
- He does so by personal example and indirectly.
He is a good psychologist. Teaching is, held to be a noble profession. It is indeed a noble profession. What can be nobler than molding young people into good men and women? And, rightly considered, the main function of a teacher is to do his bit in his sphere. It is very wrong of us to think that he only teaches a subject. In additon to teaching, a teacher exercises a great influence on the life and character of his pupils in many other ways. In order that this influence is good he should have some qualities. A teacher who has these qualities may be called an ideal teacher. Let us see what those qualities are.
First of all, he should be a master of the subject he teaches. If he teaches in school he should have a good command over more than one subject. If he teaches in a college he should be a specialist in his own subject. This means that he should be a devoted student of his subject. This means that he hopes to master it at some time. He must put in his best efforts to study and grasp the subject he has chosen. Many teachers do not realise this. Once they have entered the profession, they rest content. They make no efforts to improve their knowledge of the subject. They do their work mechanically. They get out of touch with latest developments in their field of study. They do not inspire their students. They cannot do so unless they are themselves inspired. An ideal teacher is a tireless student. Unless be is that he cannot be a good teacher.
It is very unfortunate that most of the teachers take their work so non-seriously. Many of them are even unsuitable for this work. They have no living interest in study and scholarship. They never progress beyond their student days. Our system of edụcation is such that the teacher can go on teaching for years without feeling the necessity of reading himself. Such a teacher is no teacher. The first requirement of an ideal teacher, let us emphasize again, is that he should be a sound scholar, that he should have a zest for learning, that he should keep himself in touch with the latest developments in his subjects.
But a mere scholarship will not do. All scholars are not good teachers. In fact many scholars make positively bad teachers. They find it difficult to communicate their learning to others. So the next quality of a good teacher is that he should be able to share his learning with his students. This means many things. The teacher must be a good talker. He cannot teach properly unless he can talk effectively and with ease. He must bave an adequate command over the spoken word. Only then he will be able to communicate his scholarship. Then he should be able to talk in such a manner that he is understood. He should not talk over the heads of his pupils. Most scholars do that. Sometimes they cannot help it. As teacher, however, must digest his learning. Then he will always talk simply. He will have no difficulty in communicating to others. Students will not be able to speak about · him; “Yes, he is a great scholar but he is a bad teacher because we cannot follow what he says.” In other words, an ideal teacher is neither confused nor difficult to understand. He is able to impart his learning to the pupils in a systematic manner in accordance with their level of mental development.
So much for scholarship and the ability to communicate that scholarship to others. But even this is not enough. An ideal teacher does not confine himself to the narrow limits of his subject. He is conscious that he has to exercise an all round influence on his pupils. He must, therefore, see that this influence is good. He has to be very careful about his personal habits. It is worng to think that the teacher’s job ends with class-work. In fact, that is only a part of the whole and not the most important part. An ideal teacher is a source of inspiration in so many ways. He teaches them to be cool and calm in every situation. He teaches them the value of culture. He helps them to become good citizen. He prepares them, in short, for later life.
How does he do so? That is an important question. Previously it was thought that the teacher should perform all these taskes directly. It means that he should deliver sermons. He should keep on telling them what to do and what to avoid. He shouid impress upon them the value of goodness, beauty and truth. Teachers of ancient times did it quite successfully. Most of them used to be men of religion. They would use religious books are aids to their own efforts. They were teachers as well as preachers.
But times have changed. And we must change with times or . we suffer. In the modern world no one wants to be told what he should do and what he should not. Particularly young children resent this. They consider it an attack on their freedom. The spirit of democracy has invaded every sphere of our life. The teacher cannot, therefore, perform his functions effectively with these old methods. It is true that at all times he will be somethings of a preacher. But even the modern preachers are different from ancient preachers. So the teacher has to adopt new methods.
These new methods are too many to be enumerated individually. Their essence lies in more freedom to the child. If the pupil is grown up as such at college, the teacher should be even more careful. He should be indirect and suggestive in his approach; he should never say, Do this or do that. Instead he should watch and see and guide more progressively. He must be a friend, philosopher and guide to his students. He must inspire nobility and greatness in the students under his charge.
The teacher will succeed in this task if he understands psychology. In fact, an intimate acquaintance with psychology is necessary for an ideal teacher. Then he knows the mental process of his pupils and acts accordingly.
Beside this general influence, the teacher must himself be an example and a model. This is very important. Ancient teachers commanded the respect and affection of their pupils. They did so because their own life was good. Their conduct was above board, their mind broad, their way of life simple and artistic. They were great scholars. But they were humble and modest. Naturally their pupils locked upon them with awe. The modern teacher has a tendency to be very loose in his habits. His devotion to learning is nominal. His other habits are often undistinguished. He has few ideals. His values are in no way different from those of a common man eager to get money by hook or crook.
He is not to blame entirely. He is the child of the modern society. He can’t escape from its bad influence easily. He becomes money-minded. But he should make an effort to resist all this bad influence in his own case. Only then can he hope to win the respect of his pupils.
We are not suggesting that the modern teachers should lead any austere life. He cannot go and live in the jungle. Ancient teachers could. He cannot keep up his reading without money. Book cost money. He cannot lead a beggarly life, for he has normal human desires and ambitions. He should be given good living. He should have a comfortable house. He should have money to spend on books. He should have money to entertain his friends and to travel far and wide. All these things are necessary for a modern teacher. But at the same time he should not be wasteful or showy or even ease-loving. If he has any of these vices, he cannot be an ideal teacher.
We can mention many more qualities. But they are of a minor nature. For instance, he should be a sportsman. He should have a cheerful disposition. The main thing is that he should be devoted to hiš subject, that he should be able to inspire the students with enthusiasm. And for that he should have light ideals and a noble character.