Indians have a culture of great respect to our teachers. I too have the privilege of some amazing teachers. When I reflect on why I consider them great, some of the reasons that come to my mind are,
They were wonderful human beings with good teaching skills (2nd part is extremely important);
They could help me to connect beyond the subject matter;
They could help me develop an interest in the subject;
They could make me question. (We question when we know something and when we don’t know everything — Heideggerian inspiration)
They challenged me to be authentic.
Among all these aspects, three things stand out in the context of the present world situations. I consider them as the responsibility of the teachers. (The analysis has some influence from the class I am attending on heidegger). They are
- Authenticity : I am not hinting at a moral/religious meaning of authenticity. But it is an invitation to be one-self. A teacher should help the student to start this process. When more teachers are able to do this, we could get solutions to the present day problems.
- Ability to think: In the age of marks for the ability to memorize, the teachers should consider their utmost task to cultivate the ability to think, think about important matters in the society. The thinking should be critical,creative and contextual. This would help us to stop the trend of educated individuals following extremist ideology; many more would show guts and creativity to develop sustainable alternatives to such ideologies.
- Ability to Connect: For these virtues (authenticity and ability to think) to be instilled, the education can’t remain a linear progression of different kinds of knowledge. The depth and width should increase, which is possible only if they can connect between various kinds of knowledge. This would be a minor attempt to experience the underlying connectedness of the reality.
One of the most famous statements of heidegger is “Every thinker thinks a single thought”. When teachers are able to help students to connect and to think, it could help them to start the journey of exploring that single thought (which is again authentic life). Their life would be expressions of that single thought. In spiritual terms that could be called as their personal vocation (Herbie Alphonso, SJ).
(I know this is very very difficult. But let us give a try. Atleast we can start the process..)