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International Literacy Day - From Gurus to Tech-Savvy Teachers

Society is indeed grateful to the teaching community for smoothly transitioning to online classes during the continuing pandemic that has derailed normal life, say parents in Agra.

Technological pitfalls and irritants notwithstanding, the teachers have generally responded adequately to the challenges and demands of changing times is the consensus of opinion in the academia. Who had thought the Gurukul Gurus would become so "Tech-savvy" in such a short time.

"Of course, there were glitches and hitches in the first wave of the pandemic but by the time the second wave hit us, the systems had been streamlined with a variety of new digital platforms and apps, and our own mindset had got used to the new normal," said Anubhav, a senior teacher of St Peter's College, founded in 1846. The students too, took a little time but once the facilities got broad-based and upgraded, there was no looking back. When asked what he liked most about online classes, a kid innocently responded "teachers can't punish us now. The parents and everyone else is watching so even if they are irritated and angry, they cannot ask us to get out, or stand up on the bench." The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the tuition and coaching activities in a big way. "The children are totally done and exhausted after six periods of online classes. Due to fear of the pandemic, we cannot send them out for tuitions," said Mamta, mother of a 12-year-old daughter. It's just a stop-gap arrangement. The children are actually missing out a lot, with no sports, cultural activities, and socialisation, as also pranks and punishment. "Looks like the age of the legendary teachers is over. We still fondly cherish the memories of our old teachers, and whenever in a group, we recall the peculiar mannerisms and personality traits of our former teachers," said Padmini, a housewife.

Yes, indeed, long before tuition shops sprung up in every bylane of the city of the Taj Mahal, there were legendary teachers who are still remembered with love and respect on this Teachers Day. Generations of students at the famous St John's College still lovingly recall Prof G.I. David and the passion he brought to the study of English literature. His old students here are sure that the man they nicknamed 'Guddan Pyare' is now up there delighting Shakespeare, Keats and Shelley with his love for their works. School teachers leave a deeper impression, and probably the deepest has been left on generations by Sister Dorothia who taught history at Asia's oldest convent school St. Patrick's, founded in 1842. "It's impossible to forget the way she mimicked Hitler," recalls ex-student Mukta. "She was so loving and so passionate about the teaching of history." While recalling their favourite teachers, many academics talk about the commercialisation of education today. "Today we have teachers, not gurus. The continuous erosion of moral values is a matter of concern. A student must be trained to resist the influence of immoral values," says a retired headmaster of a prominent school. A senior teacher Meera says: "Education today has been reduced to skill transfer technology, through various channels. The fundamental objectives of education have been lost. The goal of education today is to get employed in a competitive market." "Today there is a lot of money in the teaching profession but this commercialisation has also drained it of its idealism," she added. Another retired university professor added, "Teachers shouldn't starve or be deprived of comforts. But they also need to realise that compared to many other professions, their role and responsibilities are different and perhaps more important for society. The need for mass literacy within a short span has built new pressures, but a balance has to be struck between quality and quantity. Without dreams, vision, and idealism, education will only produce heartless people."


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