The Start Matters

Mrs Sonia Philips, I still remember, my senior kindergarten teachers was pretty and delicate. Sir Edward, my class teacher in grade two, was a grumpy and strict tall man. I can’t even recall him smiling even once. And yes! How can I not mention Mrs Asharafi, a teacher so serene and so loving? Mrs Malvika was my ‘mom’ in school, and the beautiful Mrs Uzma Rizwan Khan is the one who saw in me a confident leader. I grew up, changed several schools and most of my teachers left a permanent mark in my memory. Their voice, face, qualities, style, the way they talk, how they taught and what they preached is what I still recall. Every promotion faded my observation as well as my teacher’s impact on me. Till I reached my graduation I could hardly connect with my professors. They were indeed amazing and inspiring but their impact wasn’t so influencing as my pre-primary teachers had on me. Maybe, I was more observant as a child.

To this thought, we should really ruminate the importance of primary teachers in a student’s life. Children tend to follow and observe people around, especially teachers. They play an influential role in any child’s life. Hence, it is profoundly important that what quality of primary teachers does our schools appoint for the children. While hiring a teacher, usually, the only basic criteria considered is their qualifications. No degree can guarantee the quality of personal morals and character. Therefore, qualifications shouldn’t be the only substructure on what we appoint teachers for primary students who have stepped out on their journey of knowledge and wisdom. These students need mentors with brilliant and promising personalities carrying high moral, emotional and ethical values. In Finland, where the primary education is considered the best in the world, the teachers have to go through rigorous training to deal with children. They are scrutinised for several months for what they teach and preach in the class. No doubt, they are the best.

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Even the content of what to be taught in the primary days should be ameliorated by the education system. We have, they say, a quality education system but what all we study is only conceptual and theoretical. Environmental studies were introduced as a compulsory graded subject so as to make us aware of the global environmental problems and theories. But even today it is studied just to obtain a particular grade and clear the examination. Students seldom care about the serious environmental conditions, nor are they perceptive about the solutions for the same. Researchers show that Indian brains are commendable at mathematical problems as well as scientific equations. A 15-year well-practised Indian kid would solve on paper any complicated mathematical problem, but in Japan (second best education system after Finland), a 15-year-old kid is designing robots. The only difference between them is we study just to clear the exams whereas they practice applied knowledge.

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Our schools educate us enough better to make us capable of obtaining a professional degree and a job but not so keenly are we are taught what it actually takes to be a good human and citizen at first place. We are rarely taught what actually matters in practical life. Who among you were taught how to grow food in school? Growing food is a holistic approach towards educating a child. Are you aware of the actual process of how to plant and nurture a tree? How many of you have actually filtered water through sedimentation and preserved it? Have your school ever made you invest a day with pet animals and taught you how to groom them? Doing this would inculcate a feeling of sympathy as well as compassion towards animals. It is believed a person who isn’t compassionate towards animals cannot be the same with humans in general. Was any art-form made compulsory in your school be it dance, painting or poetry? Was every student made to compulsory chose one sport as their sports routine? Was every edge of you as a student dusted and did your school try to pull every indispensable string for you? Were Sir Walter Raleigh, Ibn Battuta or Mao Zedong mentioned in your books as frequently as alpha, beta and gamma?

Were you taught how to socialize, start a conversation and science of basic manners and etiquettes? Were you ever taken to old age homes and orphanages once a while and taught to donate and share our treasured belongings? Just like they take us to water parks and amusement parks for picnics were you taken to any remote village to appreciate the life there? Were you ever given homework like, “Tomorrow the class monitor will check the money you have saved this week, and please be ready with the answers of how and where are you going to use/invest it?” Were any efforts made to dislodge the fear in you of facing the crowd and speak your heart out? Were you encouraged to discuss political, social and global issues?

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I believe in the exaction of Science and Mathematics but I also believe in the fundamentals of our intrinsic radiations and moral theorems. With the number of 356 million of 10-24 years old, India has the world’s largest youth population. If these millions are raised dynamically and are moulded into an ideal human with not the ostensible knowledge but actually quintessential wisdom, there’s no looking back to India’s progress toward a better tomorrow. And to accomplish this we need passionate as well as dedicated teachers and mentors to execute the absolute education to the living future of the world. After all, this is what seriously matters.

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