The story of Teacher’s whisky dates back to more than 175 years ago when the new ‘Excise Act’ was introduced in the UK, and William Teacher was a 19-year-old, former-cotton mill worker with an uncompromising attitude and whole barrelful of self-belief.
Very Important – self-belief. Even if you have the best teacher in the Education business! Education, mind you is big business. Run by non-profits called Trusts, which build trustworthy citizens for the future. Sometimes though, the trust rusts, and maximum profit becomes the maxim!
The system is such that, as we exit the portals of our education system, the nation is hopeful that we are worthy of the trust that gave us education. And maybe we are, until we realize we are all competing for a limited pot of gold, the rates of which, change every day! In 1947, the cost of 10 kilos of gold was less than the cost of an airline ticket from Delhi to Mumbai. According to the Indian Post Gold Coin Services information, it was Rs: 88. 62 at that time.
But then, education was not a business, or if it was, it was a trustworthy business. Today it’s a business worthy of Trust! It has evolved. From Offline to Online, to hybrid models. All we have to do is fall in line! And from Notes to Votes, as Government schools too, have become worthy of our trust.
We have all gone through the system, been brainwashed, squeezed, creased, and put out to dry. Because we were washed, squeezed, and creased, we came out clean. At least most of us did. All because of the hard work our Teachers put in. They were strict, yet affectionate, and strong but emotional when it came to their students.
Putting aside their own cares and chores, they laboured to teach for minimal gain, and a lot of pain, from both the headmaster and some students, who loved to have fun at their expense. Though it was during the rule of the Ruler, their shoulders were always available to cry on after. So, we are what we are, whatever we are – some teachers, some taught – in part because of their efforts, and our self-belief, like William Teacher! For the rest, well it’s not the Teacher’s fault. Maybe William Teacher’s? Quite possible.
And so all of us celebrated Teacher’s day yesterday, with the rest of India. India has been doing this since 1962. It all began with the birthday of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a philosopher and a teacher, par excellence. He is known for his contribution to the Indian education system. Some of his students wanted to celebrate his birthday and requested him to allow them to do so but Dr. Radhakrishnan felt that every teacher deserves appreciation and introduced the celebration of teacher’s day on his birthday. He believed that the teachers should be the best minds in the country. And maybe they are, even though the rewards are not the best the country has to offer, and that is a tragedy. Or comedy? An elected politician, who may have benefited from the teacher’s hard work, earns three or four times his teacher even as he rules the teacher with the Ruler! Just like she did him when the roles were reversed!
Some celebrated with real flowers, some with WhatsApp flowers (they are free, or assumed to be free – but that is WhatsApp making an ass of you and me!), some teaching the teacher in a role reversal, and some with William Teacher. I have to make the distinction, lest you are confused before meeting him! You will certainly be confused later!
Celebrations done, teachers have had to get back to work. Lots of work. There is a new education policy to contend with. A policy perhaps that makes it easier for the student, and harder for the teachers. They may have to innovate, annotate, and revise their notes, for nothing will be the same again. Their student population will float in and out of their classes, and they will have ratings, as Amazon Products do! Life will be tough. But that is how life repurposes itself, always the hard way!
Up until now, we had been unable to change what was handed down to us – the McCaulay system of systematic education. The English way of looking at Indian ethos, history, and science. So, a new education policy (NEP) that looks outward in its make-up (just like before but in a new context) and inwards in its focus, has come into being. In 2020 to be precise. It seeks to produce citizens for a New India; one that relies on its very ancient past, not the immediate past, for a great immediate future. Sounds complicated, but that happens, when a lot of thought precedes a decision!
Under the New Education Policy (NEP), there will be an increased focus on regional languages, Sanskrit, India’s heritage language and critical thinking rather than memory. Sadly, people still remember the Old Education Policy; they had it by heart!
The NEP plans to change the current 10+2 structure of schooling to 5+3+3+4. The Bachelor’s degree will now be 4 years honours degree with multiple entry and exit points based on student needs and circumstances. It’s a whole new Visa regime. And it’s not for tourists. But it will help Degree holders go abroad with more facility as it will enhance their equivalence!
There will also be an academic credit bank which will allow students to continue their studies after a break. You can’t borrow from it, but you can deposit! And those deposits are presumably very safe! Students can now choose subjects across disciplines and Universities till the PhD level. Simultaneous Dual degrees are permitted, while the M. Phil will become defunct.
Most importantly perhaps, foreign universities will be permitted to set up their campuses in India to cater to Indian Students who want to go abroad. But do Indian students go abroad to study or to Migrate and become heads of MNC’s that love the Indian Market?
It envisages a change in exam frequency – just thrice – and for the rest it is an assessment that will focus on critical thinking, clearing conception and analytical skills. All skills we didn’t have until we started working and had to think for ourselves!
Children will be encouraged to learn vocational skills even at school – so household chores will be a breeze! Exam patterns will change to a hybrid between Objective and Subjective modes and be more efficient like today’s hybrid cars, and there will be increased importance given to arts and crafts. All this means you can sketch your future with your cross vision!
Coding will be taught to lower-grade students – for them, it will continuation of their education, for they are already seemingly well versed – It’s how they finish their meals at home! The school report card will focus on all skills – got to be careful here – not just academics; and there will be more facilities for specially abled children which is a great thing if there is more integration, rather than separation.
The NEP ticks all the boxes, but can our system and our teachers cope with the change envisaged? Or will they sink into depression? William Teacher may be reserved for an occasion, but for the rest of the teachers in the modern world, it’s a hybrid of a vocation and a profession – a provocation! Why? because it does not pay as well as it should!
But hats off to all of them and my best wishes for an enlightening future which will come more from a Mindtree than a Bodhi Tree! And here’s my poetic tribute to all of them. They made me what I am, Despite Me!
“It’s been so long since I’ve been to school;
and I marvel now, that If I hadn’t,
would people have thought me a fool?
Maybe yes, maybe not,
for life too, has taught me a lot.
But my parents weren’t all that cool,
And despite my protests, they sent me to school
All I can say is, it started there
My learning of life, for life
My lack of ability laid threadbare.
I had thought I was really good;
didn’t realise could be bad or better,
till my teacher one day,
was terribly rude!
I then asked my mother,
but what did I do?
At home till then, I was
a rising star, allowed my every mood.
Like a potter, she moulded me,
and as my shepherd, she herded me
leading me to where I’d be
were it not for me.
I’m grateful now, for I’ve become
what I thought I’d be!
because of her,
and despite me!”
This Article is written in a lighter vein with tongue-in-cheek. It hopes to bring a smile
to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental or just a mirage!