Teachers across the spectrum are largely devoted to helping students acquire knowledge, competences and values. Yet many of them quit. Before looking into the reasons why they do so, the history of teaching plays an important role in understanding what changed over the years...
History of education
In India, early education was under the supervision of a ‘guru’ (teacher) and was open to all. In the early times it was considered that being educated brought people ‘Moksha’ (liberation). As time progressed education was imparted based on caste. The Kshatriyas learnt about warfare, the Vaishya learnt commerce, the Brahmins learnt the scriptures and religion and the Shudras, considered to be the lowest caste, were denied an education.
Children were taught by the gurus in traditional schools known as gurukuls. These were supported by large public donations. Once the British took over, the gurukul system began to decline and more English primary schools came into being. Literacy in India grew as more and more people were being educated and was no longer based on caste. This required more people being trained in subjects so they could impart their knowledge to others, in turn. This led to the opening of a whole new career option - teaching.
What makes a good teacher?
Teaching is such a great profession. The satisfaction in knowing that they help others grow by learning has no bounds. But there has to be a certain skill set that every aspiring teacher must have. They have to be empathetic, good communicators, have patience, be adaptable, have love for children, be creative and possess the desire to pass on information and knowledge.
It takes years of experience to become a great teacher but the start of it is to have the right degrees in hand - a diploma, or a Bachelors or Master’s degree in Education.
Being armed with the above, why is it that we still see attrition rates for teachers on the rise?
Reasons why teachers quit
Teaching has had a facelift over the past few years. With technology being introduced the present generation and everything around them is linked to technology, education being one of them.
What’s more, in the recent past we have seen a shift in the number of teachers either opting to get into another field or not take up teaching altogether.
New teaching methods
Many well-established teachers are unfortunately unable to cope with the new teaching methods. They are old school and have continued to use tried and tested methods that have worked best for their students. In the past, a teacher could make extra time to help those students who were lagging behind or use a different method of explanation to make a concept easier to grasp. If the students were being disruptive the teacher could rest assured that, if they sent the child to the principal, he/she would back them up 100% and the child would be disciplined additionally once they got home by the parents. However, with growing sensitisation, the old methods of dealing with a student have had to change. Teachers now have rules and regulations set in place, which have to be followed without question.
Though most teachers do not join this profession solely for the money, for some it is their livelihood. Most schools especially in India do not pay their teachers well. There are no stringent policies in place to ensure that teacher payrolls are fair.
Exclusion from decision-making policies
In the bygone era of education, teachers planned lessons and tests, grading those tests and sending the report cards home. But now they have little or no autonomy in these decisions. With bureaucracy in full force they are unable to comprehend or have a say in the curriculum.
No more an art
Teaching used to be an art form. But in the present schools, methods have been set in place for them to follow. Teachers used to be instinctive to their students’ needs but now the concept of ‘one size fits all’ has made it inflexible for them to opt for a different approach taking the child’s interests, abilities and obstacles into account. Teachers are not allowed to bring in their personal strengths while teaching.
With international schools popping up in every corner of the country, which provide the best of everything to their students for an exorbitant fee, these schools look at getting the best from other schools. The best teachers get picked up from various other well established schools as these new age schools double and triple their salary.
Lack of training
Teachers in India are not all qualified to be teachers. Some of them are from other backgrounds that are in no way connected to teaching. The job qualification in a number of schools in the country does not make it mandatory to have even a teacher’s training diploma in hand for the job. This makes it difficult for the teacher, as well as the students, to grasp the concepts of teaching and understanding as they have no experience in the methods of teaching.
Coaching over teaching
Another major reason for the lack of enthusiasm for this profession is because of the emoluments offered to school teachers, be it in private or government schools. It doesn’t mean that the youth are not interested in a teaching job; had it been the case, the huge coaching industry that offers good money would not have flourished in the country. It is essentially because of the lucrative pay offered in these coaching industries that many are choosing the private coaching option over the relatively low-paying school teaching.
Schools become businesses
Recent times have seen a substantial increase in the school fee structure. Most schools look at making profits rather than the quality of education. With guidelines and rules being enforced, teachers are made to follow it to the ‘T’ and are given targets and timelines to complete their portions. Having no wiggle room, to stray from the set rules, leads to negligent ways of teaching. Not having a free rein makes it difficult for teachers to do justice to their job.
Behavioural changes in children
Children’s attitude towards their teachers is deteriorating with every generation. Teachers were once feared for their disciplinary actions that made sure that the child did not put a toe out of line. Today teachers are no more in control of their class and have to often endure poor behaviour from students, as they are unable to correct them due to new policies set by schools (to avoid law suits). This drives some of the best teachers out of the profession.
Good teachers are difficult to come by. Holding on to them is of utmost importance. This is possible if the schools and the government make sure that teacher rights are set in stone. Giving teachers their proper due and moral support will only work in favour of everyone involved in the system of imparting and receiving quality education.
This article was originally published in the July 2017 issue of ScooNews magazine. Subscribe to ScooNews Magazine today to have more such stories delivered to your desk every month.
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