Few days ago, my son sent me a gift box; containing few books.
One of them was ‘What Teachers Make’ by Taylor Mali, along with a note that the moment he saw this book- considering my profession - he thought it would be quite appropriate for me.
Needless to say, I started reading that one first.
Some chapters were quite interesting along with some powerful messages and statements. In many ways it coincides with my own thoughts and experiences that I have had during my life long teaching career and I am sure many others in teaching profession may also feel the same.
Even though teaching is generally considered a very noble profession, yet most people judge others by not 'what they do', but 'how much they make'. Everyone knows that teachers do not make much money. Not only they are not very well paid, but except for a few, not very well respected either - especially now a days.
Though I have been very lucky that I have always received tremendous amount of respect from almost all of my students - just as I have always paid utmost respect to my teachers. In the Indian classical Music circles, teacher is considered 'Guru' and is highly respected, but yet, occasionally I have heard such remarks as Taylor Mali also mentioned: "Those who can, do; those who can't - teach".
In the field of performing arts, such as music, painting, poetry or even surgery, it is a common belief that the great teachers may not necessarily be great performers. But it is also equally true that all great performers may not necessarily be great teachers as well.
I have also been very fortunate to have the privilege of meeting and hosting many well-known and highly admired stalwarts of Indian classical music at my home. Few of them honestly said they cannot and do not want to teach because they do not have the patience to listen to 'Besur' and 'Betaal'; out of tune and off rhythm students all the time. One of the greatest - elderly artist whom I greatly admire, compassionately said to me " Beta! In order to become a good artist, one should not teach. You should always try to listen to perfect music and practice properly because listening to 'besura' and 'betaala' would eventually affect your own talent and you might even lose it."
But I love to teach…. and by nature, I am a teacher.
One of my friends, Dr. Verma, a Cardio-thoracic Surgeon once told me that not only in the field of performing arts, it's also true in the field of surgery. He said his professors of surgery were excellent teachers, among the few best ones, but he would not trust them for doing an actual surgery. Because they have always been teaching by operating on dead bodies; slowly and pausing in between to explain to the students. How would you judge their success rate? All of their patients were dead to begin with.
But nonetheless, they were excellent teachers because they knew how to explain to the students; at their level.
Yes. Teaching requires tremendous amount of patience and a thorough understanding of the students. In order to explain properly, a teacher has to scoop down to the level of the student, and that requires a great passion and love for teaching; a skill which everyone may not have. And yet, many would still say that: "Those who can, do; and those who can't - teach".
Because for most people, the success rate is based upon ‘Fame, Power, and Money’. The more power and money one has, more successful he or she is considered.
But the real question, as Taylor Mali puts it, is not........
‘How much Teachers make’ but ‘What Teachers Make’.
And ‘Teachers Make a Difference’.
My teachers made a difference in my life and I hope to help make a difference in at least some of my student’s lives.