The Philosophy of Teaching


ImageTeachers’ Day, my interpretation.

We are all teachers. We are all students.

On this day where teachers are revered, I bow down to the ones who have given me thought. I don’t mean my brain or the random stream of consciousness we are all born with. I mean my capacity to think, my capacity to feel and give names to those emotions.

I think therefore I am, said Descartes. I am because I think. I think because I was taught to think. I was taught, as we all are, to organize the mess in our minds, the pictures that are scattered without purpose on the bedroom floor of our inner ego.

My mother who held me, pointing at objects, giving them names; my father who carried me on his shoulders, showing me the world, my brother who looked up at me from his crib, giving me the feeling of worth. When I try and break down all the roles of all the people in my life, actually, I’m at a loss. Everyone I have ever met, in my short stay on this planet have taught me, is teaching me.

I don’t know who I would be if the people in my life did not exist. It is much harder to glean knowledge from the world without a teacher, as an island. The mistakes would be greater in number and magnitude. I do not think the debt can be repaid or a price put on the gift we receive as we are learning. Ekalavya paid with his right thumb for the knowledge he had stolen. But he gave it gladly because he knew the value of the lessons he had learnt surreptitiously. Your teachers must be acknowledged. But how?

My school teachers; I can thank them all by name. But what of my best friend’s mother who gave me my first paid job? What of the first child I tutored, who taught me the value of teaching? What of my grandmother, who taught me how to remove a sticky sandesh from its mould? What of my friends who taught me how to share? What of the bullies who taught me how to fight? What of the boy who taught me how to love? What of the boy who taught me how to cry?

What of Google, which taught me that there is an answer for everything? I’m being glib and generalistic, perhaps taking away the value of ‘real’ teachers. I don’t mean to. What I mean to say is: on this “Teachers’ Day” remember your teachers, but remember also the ones who have taught you something. One day, there may be a debt to pay and then you will give it gladly because you will know the value of the learning you have received.

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