AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING 2021 – 2022
Indian Schools Muscat
Remarks by Ambassador Amit Narang
Chairman, Board of Directors for Indian Schools Shri Manickam,
Guest of Honour, Director General Ms. Shununa Salim Alhabsi
Dean, Majan University College Dr. Maha Kobeil
Sponsor of the Awards Shri Kiran Asher ji,
Principals, Teachers, Distinguished Guests,
I thank the Board of Directors for inviting me to today’s event.
I am honored to be present at the Award Ceremony for Best Teachers of Indian Schools and at the outset would like to convey my best wishes to the entire teaching fraternity of Indian Schools.
I applaud this tradition of annual teacher awards, seeking to give recognition to the best of teaching talent and in doing so promoting quality teaching and mentorship for students of Indian schools.
I would like to convey my gratitude to Shri Suresh Virmani ji who, I understand, started this excellent tradition; and also to Kiran Asher ji who has very generously continued and strengthened it.
In the Indian tradition, going back thousands of years, there are few professions more treasured as that of teachers.
In fact, it will not be an exaggeration to say that the concept and profession of a ‘Guru’ – or the one who leads from darkness to light – is central to the Indian philosophical thought.
There are hundreds of verses that celebrate the teaching profession and emphasize that a teacher is second only to a parent in terms of importance in one’s life.
‘A parent is the first teacher and the teacher is the second parent’.
In fact the veneration of teachers in Indian culture is stretched to the point of giving the Guru or the teacher the attributes of God himself.
गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुः गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः।
गुरुः साक्षात् परं ब्रह्म तस्मै
Guru is Brahma, the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Siva the destroyer. The Guru therefore is the very embodiment of the divine and therefore I bow to him/her.
A similar expression was given centuries later by Sant Kabirdas who said:
गुरु गोविन्द दोऊ खड़े, काके लागू पाय|
बलिहारी गुरु आपने, गोविन्द दियो
In other words, the Guru and Govind (i.e. God) are both in front, who should I bow to? I bow to Guru indeed as he is the one who made the meeting with God possible.
In honoring the teachers through this award ceremony therefore, we are harking back to a time honored tradition of India.
This is also a way of encouraging and promoting quality teaching, without which the excellent academic traditions of the Indian schooling system will be impossible to achieve.
How does one evaluate the success of a teacher? Bear in mind that I am not asking what are qualities of a good teacher. There are several such qualities that can be listed and there are people more qualified than me here to list them.
Judging the success of a teacher is perhaps a deeper question.
It certainly does not relate to how many students like you. You can be a very unpopular teacher, but can still be successful insofar as how much you were able to mold your students. In fact, discipline is often unpopular, but often most important.
Success is also not directly related to how high your students score, although there will certainly be a co-relation between the passing rate of your students and your efforts.
Success of a teacher is often more than just popularity and high grades. A deeper value of success, and something not immediately available for evaluation, is how well you groom your students for future success.
We have all heard of stories of successful men and women in their 40s or 50s, reflecting and attributing their success in life to this or that teacher. We have seen perhaps such moments of reunion, when students reunite with their old teachers and credit them for whatever they achieved in their lives.
This perhaps is a more valuable metric for the success of a teacher, even if less tangible and less short term.
The job of a teacher, in its fullest sense, is not to teach a branch of knowledge, a skill or a talent, but to train a human mind for the future.
That of course is easier said than done, and it has never been as challenging perhaps as today.
Today the world is changing so rapidly that techniques and technologies taught to a student may become obsolete even before they are put to use.
Where concepts and ideas taken for granted for decades are being put to question.
A time when it is difficult to distinguish between right and wrong, real and fake, true and false.
Teachers today therefore have to raise their game.
5 attributes come to my mind and I would like to share with you.
First, rather than merely imparting knowledge, you must inculcate in your students a desire to acquire knowledge for knowledge sake, not for this career or that. In other words, you must groom inquisitive knowledge seekers and lifelong learners.
Second, you must encourage a habit of asking questions and challenging accepted notions. This has traditionally not been a strong point of Indian educational system, focused more on learning and memorizing what’s given. This must change if we are to prepare leaders for tomorrow.
Third, you must nurture more empathy and awareness in your students. Their personalities must be more than just ‘screenish’ knowledge and more centered onto their surroundings. Being aware and observant of your surroundings can often lead to profound understanding of the self and beyond.
Fourth, you must encourage the growth of global citizens. Students who take pride in their own traditions and cultures, but are also at peace with the diversity of the world. Becoming global citizens also mean looking for solutions to our common problems that often transcend national and regional boundaries.
Fifth, you must provide the skill sets to your students to constantly learn and acquire new skills. In other words, nurturing intuitive, flexible minds with the ability to upgrade their skill sets in response to new problems or circumstances. You must in other words incubate ‘programmable’ minds, much like self-learning software that are amenable to changing course and evolving.
To conclude on a lighter note, they say that the favorite nation of a teacher is ‘Expla-nation’. For being future ready, your favorite nations must be ‘Rumi-nation’, ‘Imagi-nation’ and ‘Rejuve-nation’!
I am confident that the Indian schooling system will continue to produce outstanding teachers and that this annual tradition of best teachers awards will continue to inspire more and more teachers to become future ready and train a new generation of global champions.
My best wishes to all teachers once again.