A Case for Teaching as a Profession

So you have heard horror stories of teachers. Teachers being unpaid. Teachers being humiliated. Teachers not getting  the respect they deserve. Teachers being abused by parents. Teachers who are crucified. Teachers who would have done anything else but teaching and even teachers not getting proposals as in marriage, I mean some of us!

Three days into my month long yearly break, I am literally celebrating my wisdom to return to teaching.

I had walked out of the school teaching 4 years ago, when things were getting very tough on the personal front.

I had decided to explore and I went to meet people seeking opportunities, trying to understand what lay outside my comfort zone. Luckily, the person I had consulted to find out about a certain opportunity found it fit to call me with a job offer exactly a month after. It was a challenge but I decided to take it up and did so gratefully.

I remember how my former colleagues would call me up and ask, ‘how is it mam’ and I would answer ‘oh! it’s nothing compared to the work we do at school’!

Many of my students inquired, ‘Why are you quitting teaching when you love it so much?’ I said I was going to do content writing. My students/children took to the belief that I was going to write a book, become an author and seriously and sincerely checked up with me for a long time, ‘How much have you written?’, ‘We will ensure that your book is a hit’, ‘When is it going to be published’,’Don’t forget to give us some credit’ and so on.

In fact one of them insisted, ‘ I know you won’t leave teaching without some reason, what is it, tell me, I can help you. I have a job now as a corporate lawyer’. These conversations became my strength and my pride.

2 years later I moved on to another company with a better pay but I was missing  classrooms.

I felt the dire need to share. An opportunity came my way and I jumped at it and returned to teaching. Life seemed to have come to a full cycle.

Many young people hesitate to take up teaching. Thus educational institutions miss out on great talent that could have enriched the lives of many young people.

Here I present some reasons on why you should choose teaching as a career.

  • Be with the young, stay young. Seriously, one of my former colleagues at Daly College, Primary School remarked that her husband chides her for her ‘kiddishness’ and blames the company she keeps for it! I too find teachers in the primary school, all so dressed up and gorgeous and gregarious mostly! Some of us who teach do actually manage to stay in high spirits.
  • Challenge yourself. Nothing is more challenging than a child with a question and when it comes to many children with many questions, you know how that can get you to learning. One of my colleagues listens to ‘Ted talks’ while travelling back home everyday, she says she has to do this if she has to have something to speak to her students everyday. Makes sense.
  • Holidays. Yes, teachers do get a fair share of holidays. Some schools are generous to give a winter vacation and a summer vacation.
  • Keep it simple. The fundas of life are simpler in an educational institution. Yes, C.P Snow’s Masters (a novel) might hint differently but compared to other areas of work say politics, cinema, corporate, educational institutions don’t need much of your craftiness. Your employer might rather have you keep your mouth shut and at work,I mean, manage the classroom, complete the syllabus, kind of stuff!
  • Good company. Maybe I am biased, but I genuinely believe that teachers make for good company, especially those who are forever learning, ready with stories, willing to share time and experiences. They are in general fun to be with, contrary to the depiction of us poor lot as dull and boring in popular media.
  • No retirement. Actually, teachers like politicians and doctors mature like old wine and can go on teaching, consulting, advising like forever. I have seen some really senior teachers still in the business, they come as visiting faculties, they take home tuition, in general, you can continue to make others miserable, for as long as you want if you are a teacher, especially if you know some mathematics!
  • Share your knowledge. You might be a journalist, a writer, a doctor, a lawyer,a social worker but you can take some time off to teach others and share your valuable knowledge with the youngsters who will get a real time understanding of your area of work. In a country like ours, there is an urgent need to bridge the gap between the educational institutions and the real world, perhaps you will like doing it too and may be, change many lives for the better.
  • Gratitude. Gratitude is a huge factor in teaching. It might come late but when it comes it will lighten you up. You will be choked to tears with students’ expression of love and respect for you.  Not everything is measurable,right?
  • Facilities: Some educational institutions take good care of their staff. You might be just get lucky to find one, if you do, just stay on. Well,this is an area than can improve.

So to young people, consider teaching, it is a profession that keeps you grounded. To parents, please don’t discourage your children if they want to take up teaching. To adults/ professionals, try teaching some time, it’s fun.

Cheerio!

 

 

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Of Women at Play

It was a team event. Most women like yours truly, refused to participate, at least initially. Then some of us agreed to cheer for others and then well, went on to play.

What an experience it was! To feel the ground beneath your feet, to feel free and competitive, and to be part of a game, though most of us did not know the ‘T’ of Throw Ball.

Some body said, ‘it has been 20 years since I played any game’. ‘Me too’, joined another!

Most of the women were not used to sports, may be a little bit of running in school times but definitely nothing after adolescence. No wonder then that the game was clumsy at best except for the spirited fresh and fit youngsters who knew what they were doing.It was great to watch them, more enthusiastic, better trained, and more in groove with themselves taking the lead, it was great as well, to be able to do whatever was possible, if only to stand by and cheer like John Milton said, ‘They also serve who only stand and serve’.

Yet the outdoor experience was fun. It was a great time for some female bonding, across departments, away from the digital screens and the classrooms and the usual pressures of teaching.

I was thinking of the very ‘womanly hesitation’ to get out and be yourself.

Hitching up sarees and hitting the ground does not come easy, overcoming consciousness of the body, the appearance, risking the look to look dirty, unkempt is not easy either, but then when the girls got down to play the game, there was obvious cheer and much celebration.

Where are the public spaces for women? Where can our girls go out for a walk, or go running or just get together and play a game without being objectified?

Where are the public places for just walking,sitting down and chatting or trying a game of badminton or kho kho?

The simple pleasures of living are denied to most women, yes, especially women!

Public toilets are still  a luxury in our country, perhaps its too much to expect spaces for public recreation!

Maybe!

 

 

 

Sonnet 62 & the self

In his Sonnet number 62 Shakespeare says that his excessive love for himself is a sin, and that he has no cure for the malady which is rooted deep in his heart.

‘Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye, 
And all my soul and all my every part; 
And for this sin there is no remedy, 
It is so grounded inward in my heart. 

He goes on to add that there is no face as pretty as his, no form, no experience as worthy as himself. That it is difficult to judge his merit because he( his qualities, abilities, character, appearance) overpowers every other thing that may have any value to any one.

Methinks no face so gracious is as mine, 
No shape so true, no truth of such account; 
And for myself mine own worth do define, 
As I all other in all worths surmount.

Soon though he is filled with doubt and adds that when he sees his weather beaten form , tainted by age he begins to doubt his own value. The sonnet ends with a couplet in which the poet explains( or excuses himself by saying that) that while praising himself, he is actually praising his beloved whose beauty and charm he finds imported/ reflected in the his own frame  as he is ‘painting or covering his age with the beauty of her form’.

He has no reason to look upon himself with love apart the love he holds for his friend. It would be scandalous ( ‘iniquity’, meaning very unfair) if he loved himself obsessively after coming face to face with the reality of his appearance as shown by the mirror, ‘glass’. Shakespeare thus absolves himself of the sin, the sin of self-love.

But when my glass shows me myself indeed, 
Beated and chopp’d with tann’d antiquity, 
Mine own self-love quite contrary I read; 
Self so self-loving were iniquity. 
   ‘Tis thee, myself, that for myself I praise,
   Painting my age with beauty of thy days.

But self-love to me is not sinful, self-loathing is.

Your happiness lies in listening to you.

So I guess you got to be true to yourself.

It is  true that your obsession with your happiness will be vilified as an indulgence, as an indifference, as a whim, a fancy, an epitome of selfishness,so on and so forth.

In the pursuit of things you love to do, you may have to some times stay away from certain people, certain circumstances and you will be perceived as a vamp, a vampire and what not.

But nothing in life is to be had easy, so just go with it.

The things you love to do could be simple, like may be having good food at good places.

Interestingly, you will hear a lot of stories about your addiction to good food, you will be called an epicurean, you will be laughed at for your veneration of food.There will be comments of how careless you are in spending on eating and if you catch a flu, it will most certainly be because of the food you ‘ate’, that day, at that place, and how!

You might otherwise be addicted to reading, reading! huh! what a waste of time,to rust and not to act! It will be told that your reading got you your glasses, and your fat around, you know where and more such wisdom!

Your choices for reading will be scrutinized as being too classy or too easy, essentially a ‘waste of your time’. You will be told stories of how people achieved a lot more with never having to  lift a book and of the need to save future generations from weak eyes.

Or  you may be this rather harmless creature whose joy blossoms in the garden, among the earthworms, the dirt and the grass. You might just want to spend your life weeding out weeds, obviously! from your garden.

All that you ever aspired for may be just a piece of land and some peace. Trust me you are most unlikely to find it i.e unless you choose to have the wisdom to ignore the nose diggers!

Your inability to set aside time for what you absolutely or’ some whatly’ love to do, could manifest as anger, frustration, constant cribbing and general dislike for others’ happiness.

So, gather yourself, put your foot down and get to doing what you ought to do.

Don’t wallow your life in repentance guilty of doing what you ought not to do!

PS: A sonnet is a poem of 14 lines.

 

 

Think,share,do,grow

Every day at work I meet so many people, we talk,we share we move on but with some the talk leads to thought and then some action and then some thing more springs out of it.

From where I  sit in the staff room a lot of academic discussions happen even now when summer holidays are on.

A young lady has just achieved a major mile stone in her career.

Another is racing past with dedication and determination.

I overhear conversations of learning, writing, research, paper presentations throughout the day.

Sometimes heated discussions on syllabus, teaching methodology and planning take place.

When I sit down with someone, I am drawn into interesting and enlightening discussions about life goals, about studies, of youth, of work and what not.

I learn of how goals of sustainability can have implications in our personal lives.

I see feverish energy, sparks of bright minds, great intentions, wonderful dedication and a sense of belonging to future, a feeling of being on to something, something big.

It thrills me, as someone who started off the career teaching 3 year old to now being associated with an institution of higher learning I can’t thank the universe enough for this.

A fresher at work wants to know, how can I publish something? A student asks can I also write?

In a corner, a few bright minds discuss books ,have you read Shantaram, you should try this!

Somebody is trying for a new certification, another is applying his learning to make interesting modules.

The atmosphere is charged,really!

Yes, there are times when talks can be better,when situations are not so inspiring, but is life any different?

In the labyrinth of learning, there are spaces that breathe, that are alive and kicking and  it is a comforting thought. And there are young people who choose to teach because they love it, it is a passion, not a necessity.

The other day a gentleman from the corporate world expressed his drive to get back to classrooms, ‘this is what I always wanted to do, though I am 20 years too late to begin, it does not matter’, he said, ‘I would be happy’.

Umberto Eco’s statement about ‘interstices’ comes to my mind about how being aware of where you are and of doing what you can to get there.Maybe.

Yet, I have to agree with Hamlet that ‘something is rotten in the state of Denmark’, but there is hope as well, there is also effort and good intentions at work.

PS: Life is learning, learning is life.

 

Late(r) Studies!

A score and a half

of mothering and wifing

of daughter,sister and daughter-in law-ing

and always ranked miss-imperfect!

then this,

the book

my colleague shoved into my hands

study!

and she, my daughter

let me ask you some questions!

and blink

FR Leavis, who?

Eliot, T.S? yeah, The Waste Land!

Year, I can’t remember!

oh! Browning, ha ha, Fra Lippo Lippi

The Last Ride Together

The Last  Duchess

I can never forget Browning!

but Post Modernism?!

I am past that, come on!

Masque?! hmm … heard of it?

wait, let me think

a warning

‘You gotta study, mom!’

but I am old, a cry

not so, a counter!

coz, ‘ambition should be made of sterner stuff!’

so said, Brutus!

what have I gotten myself into

why of all things

why risk reputation, whatever is left of it!

why?!

coz I am not rich,dammit

didn’t marry rich either!

and what got me here, won’t get me there!

besides no lottery is coming my way!

so I got to wash the sins of my youth

with toils of old age!

and keep some skills for survival!

Thathastu!

 

 

It’s been raining

It’s been raining

women rush to collect the clothes drying

men hush children getting wet outside

to the confines of the homes

the waters gushing

are cleaning years of guilt, sins and pains

a few birds dance

the street dogs rejoice initially

then look for cover

for sometime at least

the rains have diverted much wasteful attention

from the differences of ‘us’ and ‘them’

and mostly everyone is digging into their biriyanis

dressed in the aroma of spices

after much heckling

I am at peace too

while resting under the slow swirl of the fan blades

I keep half an eye open

to catch the surprises life springs upon me

it has not been amusing always

to be caught unprepared

but time has taught and healed

and made stronger a will

pickled in pain and hurt

to blossom in smiles and hopes

while in some part of the world

a few men dribble a ball around

and others dance to their tunes

caught in the business of living

we rarely have time for breathing

what do the rain gods see

do we seem different

or do they feel indifferent?

 

The Importance of Being Selfish

It is important to be selfish, yes, very selfish.

Aren’t we selfish enough? Haven’t we done enough harm with our selfishness?

Well, I am talking about a certain ‘selfishness’ that is not demeaning of others but elevating of self, ‘the self’ within you.

The kind of selfishness that makes you want to fight for what you believe in.

The kind of selfishness that allows you to take a stand, say no to certain things, and essentially lead a life of your choice.

The selfishness that makes you shun those who undermine you, who treat you disrespectfully, who hurt you intentionally, who take you for granted and grant you nothing in return, is a kind of selfishness I advocate openly.

Yes, I am all for a ‘selfishness’ that  puts your self above everything else, that allows you to love yourself to the point of no return, a la narcissist, pure,simple, honest kind of selfishness.

Such selfishness springs from self-love and with out self-love there is no loving of others.

So if you don’t want to be one of those who feel that they have sacrificed their ‘valuable life-goals’ for the sake of others, then get yourself some ‘selfishness’, ask yourself, what makes you truly happy?

Cut yourself off from those who only take from you.

Stay away from those who undermine and hurt you at every turn.

If you love yourself  first, your love for others will be nobler, richer and definitely more rewarding.

If your cup of love has to overflow, first you have to ensure that it is full, full of love and acceptance of the self,’yourself’.

And it is not easy.

It is more difficult to live a life on one’s on terms than to live it by set standards of the society.

To be able to accept yourself for who you are is more daunting than nimbly following directions which you know don’t make sense to you.

If you are miserly in lavishing love on yourself, you are likely to punish others for excesses of expressions of love.

Why you might even be ticked off because some one chooses to compliment you.

We have so many stories that extol sacrifices, sacrificing food, life style, love, opportunities and so on but we really need to celebrate stories of selfishness.

I believe all stories of success are essentially stories of selfishness, a brute adherence to self-goals no matter what, some times going against society, family, belief systems and everything else.

Ask any sportsman if he/she can retain excellence without selfish devotion to his/her goal?

I grew up thinking of sacrifice as a great virtue.  But those who seemed to have sacrificed a lot never looked very happy about themselves. Was it because their sacrifices were not valued or recognized? Or was it because they never really lived the life of their choice?

The wisdom of living taught me that it is important to take care of yourself. It is important to have that all important ‘me-time’, ‘me-goals’,’me-life’.

It is essential to have life-goals tailored to suit you and only you, even if you are branded’selfish’.

Because it is from that position of being selfish that you can even think of being selfless.

Because unless you are happy with yourself, how will you give happiness to others?

So, what are you waiting for, indulge, extol and celebrate the self within you!

Invest in your learning, in your appearance, in your soul-joy and the world will join in your celebration of the self!