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School Going to Community

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Samudayadatta Shaale— School going to the community, reaching out to the community: This is the latest fad and slogan. It refuses to be drowned in the din and bustle of election. I read, with great avidity, reports about this activity, published in our papers. A preliminary meeting of the teachers was held recently with great fanfare, in the premises of a noted school. An officer of the education department addressed the audience — teachers (who else?) Under the programme, it is said, a Gram Panchayat meeting has to be convened, where issues pertaining to primary as well as secondary education would be discussed. Some of the steps to be taken are (1) improving the learning abilities of children (2) organising a Chinnara Angala, (3) providing training to teachers, (4) announcing results (5) creating awareness among the heads of schools about the programme and its implementation.

Like the many schemes which were intended to be implemented earlier, this may also, I fear, get a decent burial in the course of time. It is a pity that there is none like an expert in the department. Education is a subject in which everyone can dabble. Everyone is an expert. Everyone has the right to have his say. If a park bench is painted and a notice says, “Wet paint: please do not touch,” everyone who passes by wants to test whether the paint is really wet or not, by applying his fingers to it.

Mediocracy Vs democracy:
If there is a placard before an electric pole which says, “Live wire! Don't Touch!” — Nobody dares to touch it! Education is not a live wire; it is wet paint! Teachers are bonded slaves. Their duty is to do everything except teaching. In a people's Government, it is the mediocrity that rules, not the expert, nor the concerned. The Education Department is a victim of the rule of mediocrity. Mediocracy (if I may coin this expression) is taken to be better than democracy!

The teacher, as I said, has to undertake every work except teaching— like census (population, children, cattle, etc). If you want to collect any data about anything, ask the teachers to go round the houses. I have seen teachers of private educational institutions being drafted for electioneering where the head of the management is contesting elections!

A teacher is a model to the village. He (or she) is a role model for the pupil. Everyone does not qualify for a teacher. Mere difference in age is not sufficient. The teacher should not only know the subject to be taught, the person should know how to teach. He must have a vital pattern of life that stimulates him (her) and, incidentally, his (her) pupils. Nobody seems to be concerned about the competence of teachers! Many people think that anyone can become a teacher of a primary school, but we need the best people to teach children. The teacher should be held in high regard by the community, by the Government, by the politicians and the school management. In the western countries, very great attention is paid to primary education. Not so in our country. It is a great tragedy. My father was a village primary school teacher and the villagers held him in high regard and affection. He had, without knowing it, reached out to the community.

Role model:
As I said earlier, the teacher is often the role model for the student and if he is treated like a slave before the students by the so-called political know-alls, the student will be disillusioned. A writer in his book “Who is a teacher” says that a teacher is like a poet, artist, musician or minister (religious minister). A poet is a poet, always. His mind ruminates over the lines of his new poem. So also the artist, musician or minister. A teaching job draws all of him. The student will always be observing him. The teacher - pupil relationship is very sacred and significant. The five “sutras” or principles of education, according to Kailasam, are: A perfect mastery of the groundwork, a power to concentrate, the desire on the part of the teacher to teach, the love of the student towards his guru and assiduous practice. Teaching is conducive to mental health and is socially significant. It should not become mechanical. It is conducive to mental health because (a) it involves a continuous series of challenging new problems, (b) encourages creativity, (c) provides opportunity for self-analysis (d) stimulates broad interests, (e) requires an unusual amount of self-control and (f) provides unexcelled opportunity for growth.

Teaching is socially significant because (a) it provides opportunity for merging one's interests with those of the group (b) affords scope for growth, creativity and stimulation of interest and (c) provides opportunities for development of affection, self-esteem and independence. The teacher should play the role of a citizen, as a member of the community. He is a liaison between society and students. The world will be appreciably different ten years from now. The teacher's job is to prepare the student to face the world of the future. Superficial loyalties and values are very dangerous and are a handicap. Success of democracy depends on enlightened citizenship. Teaching means change — change in habits, change in knowledge and change in attitudes. In a pluralistic society, where most of the people are steeped in ignorance and squalor, the greatest care should be taken to effect certain essential changes. The responsibility of the teacher and the so-called half-baked experts and politicians is very great indeed!

“We – feeling”:
Let me now air some of my thoughts on the interaction between the school and community: The community is a social group of individuals living in a given area, and having a degree of “we – feeling”. It is the smallest territorial group that can embrace all aspects of life. The educational institution today is functioning in a complex society. It has to cater to many competing interests.

Today, obligations of the home have changed to the school. Home is not an important agency of education. Organised education is a two-way process. The community should be brought to the school. The school and the community should work together. The community must be enlightened in this respect. It must be closely associated with the school programme. Invite parents and others to hear official reports. A planned programme of interpreting school to the community is essential. Passing orders is of no use. More later, when an opportunity arises!

Courtesy: Star of Mysore

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