Mrs Gita Das is an exemplary educator and retired teacher. She has dedicated an entire lifetime to teaching and leads by example. Her methods of teachings ensure maximum student involvement. She is known for interspersing music, drama and entertainment in her teaching. In her class there are hardly any boring moments. Mrs Das is someone who is one with her students and encourages their opinions and perspectives. I was privileged to learn under her for a year and sadly my batch was the last to do so. Mrs Das was a person who added to the uniqueness and beauty of Church Park. Animated conversations down the hallway and intellectual discussions in the classroom are typical of Mrs Gita Das. That made me realize that I could go to her to ask my doubts about today’s education system and the purpose it serves. I am sure that all of you will benefit from her wisdom that is greatly evident in her answers to my questions
Me:What is your definition of teaching?
Mrs Gita Das: Someone quoted quite rightly –,“Teaching is that profession that teaches all other professions”. In fact teaching and nursing have always been considered not a profession but as a vocation . The dictionary defines vocation as “a calling or a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work.” Not everyone is suited to be a good teacher .One needs an aptitude ,passion and the right kind of skills for it .Sadly these cannot be learnt or acquired.
Me: Lesser than satisfactory paycheck aside is teaching all about mental satisfaction and memories?
Mrs Gita Das : Nowadays, due to spiraling prices and high inflation , everyone is looking for good pay scales , quite rightly so . I remember an incident on my first day at the B.Ed college. The Principal wanted to know from the students , how many had joined the course on their own accord. Only three hands, excluding mine were raised ,that too from a class of 80 !! This just goes to prove that many aspirants take up teaching when all other career options fail. Can such people make good teachers?
Me: What do you think about present day education?
Mrs Gita Das: Education has now taken on a new dimension and meaning this century. Teaching is more about facilitating learning than about imparting knowledge. Science and technology have made giant strides to take education to the masses in every corner of the globe. Computers, laptops ,phones, online classes ,video conferences , robots……a whole new world of technology at your finger tips and affordable too !! There is a paradigm shift from rote learning to learner centered learning.
Me: Is modern ‘education’ achieving its aim?
Mrs Gita Das: Not really …..Schools and educators in general don’t like change hence most of them are unwilling to take up new challenges or changes to the education policies outlined by the Governments. Take the instance of Samacheer Kalvi in Tamil Nadu or the RTI implementation in all the states of India . There was so much resistance in the beginning from many schools that the Governments had to pressurize the schools to adopt these measures that too with dire warnings of stringent consequences if they do not adhere to the laws of the state . Moreover, our educational institutions are fast becoming more like business organizations — commercialized and profit making houses.
Me: Would it be right to think that education is like a medicine that has to administered with care? Would an overdose lead to disaster?
Mrs Gita Das: The metaphor is apt and relevant . The various modern approaches and methods of teaching and learning have been explored, experimented and researched by all major educational institutions and other educational bodies in India and all over the world . The NCERT assists and advises the State and the Central Government in its educational policies.
The actual duty of education is to reveal to the child all the beauty in every aspect of life whether it is art, in literature, science, mathematics or sports and games. An overdose is unhealthy for everyone concerned.
Me:Do you feel that teachers both good and bad affect the lives and behaviour of children? How so?
Mrs Gita Das: Teachers need to be role-models . Children try to emulate their teachers especially in the nursery and primary classes.
Good teachers inspire their students and the bad ones do great harm. Children spend about six to seven hours at school , the teacher’s influence on the development of the student never stops. A bad teacher can destroy a students for life …the scars never fade.
Me: Over the years you have dealt with a variety of students. What is the type of students that have amused you and what is the type that has never clicked?
Mrs Gita Das: I am able to get along with all types of students. I don’t think that I have ever been put off by any student. Every child is unique and a gift of God. If a child is difficult and aggressive it is no fault of the child. Many outside forces surrounding the child are to be blamed for his/her behavior —-community, home, school, media etc.
This interview was originally published on Blogger in May 2014