By Abdullah Khan Dero
People usually command respect in the form of titles, prizes, medals, honorary degrees etc., and herald them as badges of success, in pageantry, and showcase them to bask in the past glories. Some rewards, however, are not in kind but heartfelt words and gestures that denote a value beyond any capital award. Such rewards not only uphold our achievements and make them memorable but also attest changes in our personal and professional life paradigm.
I joined a school recently as the school head. Standing firmly on my belief I have developed a strong rapport among the children, particularly the kids in pre-primary grades. As I enter into the school gate the kids rush towards me to shake hand and some kiss my hand and I also do the same in return; kissing of hands, in our tradition, is a sign of respect and deep honor. The children sound eager to see me and share their achievements and concerns openly and confidently anywhere they find me within school premises.
One day, educated parents of one of my students of grade 3rd met me outside a community center. The mother said, have you put a spell on my son, sir?
I was surprised, obviously, and gave her an inquiring look. She explained that her son was insisting to change his school for the last two years. “This year, when we committed to get him admitted to his desirable school, he refused surprisingly and said as long as the new head is with us I will never change my school”, the mother explained. She further added that we cracked a joke and said the school head is going to join another school after a couple of days. To this, the son rashly said, as narrated by the mother, “I will follow him to the school he joins.”
At that very moment I was over the moon and thinking if I could ever imagine having an impulsive compliment paid by an eight-years old child! It was a sobering experiences.
Afterglow of this experience developed in me a comparative understanding that if there can ever be a precious gift in the world, then it should be an innocent tribute paid by a student to his teacher.
My crumbling belief, by persuasive arguments of my colleagues for ‘slight punishment’ to maintain the discipline in school to maximize the children’s learning, mustered up again. This experience reinforced my faith that there is no alternative but love, affection, care and encouragement of a child’s progress, to transform him/her into a learned and responsible citizen. It goes without saying that such efforts need to be consistent.
Volumes of literature speak that real learning takes place if the children are happy, fearless and confident and there is a mutual trust and respect between the children and the teacher. An affectionate and caring teacher with professional capabilities, altogether, can ensure a child’s learning, even in a child with learning difficulties.
Nietzsche, an educationist, once said, “Your teachers can be nobody but your liberators and that is the secret of all education”.
Perhaps the nations socially, morally and educationally on the levels have reached there because of the role played by proficient teachers. Such societies hire competent teachers and hold them in high regards, while also valuing and rewarding their work appropriately.
We, as a nation, must not only incorporate ethics and values in our teaching and learning orientations but also ensure the practices particularly in the early schooling, instead of putting them on parroting.
We must also maintain high merit in education and remunerate the teachers so that our potential career seeking candidates’ first priority should be teaching and not the authoritative job responsibilities. Otherwise it is no use counting the cost as we have been experiencing for the last seventy three years.
The contributor is School Head at D.J High School Sultanabad, Gilgit