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Teaching is Not an Occupation but a Passion

—Anjana Mittra

Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.
—Aristotle



The word teaching reminds us of the ‘insatiable hunger’ of the teachers we have witnessed in our lives. This hunger has a positive impact on us and inspires us to selflessly work for others’ welfare. Sir Ross had defined teaching as a bi-polar process. Teaching has been said to be, a deliberate and systematic influence exerted by a mature person upon an immature one through instruction, discipline and harmonious development of the physical, intellectual, aesthetic, social, and spiritual powers of human beings by and for the individual, to be used and directed towards the union with the creator.

Our ancestors have taught us how to live and how to die. They inspired us to be spiritual, to serve all human beings and to lead the later generations towards a better future. The welfare of our next generation lies on our shoulders. Our acts will determine theirs. It is this feeling which awakened many a great people to keep teaching and spreading their knowledge. They shared their ideas to ensure that they didn’t die with them but survived among the later generations.

Earlier, people took to whatever means were available such as tablets, leaves and later paper to pen down their knowledge, opinions, inferences so that they could pass them on to the future generations. They did this because they had a burning passion to teach and preserve. They wanted to share their knowledge to ensure that it did not die with them. Great people have taught us to ensure that we follow the right path. Shri Ram Krishna Parmahansa imparted his wisdom and knowledge to Swami Vivekananda to ensure the gradual percolation of knowledge to people. Swami Vivekananda in turn tried to open the world’s eyes and rid people of agony, disease, darkness, slavery and ignorance. He said that education is the manifestation of the perfection already present in a man. So he tried to teach and bind together all the people he met on his way while travelling through the length and breadth of India. Gandhiji gave us the principle of Basic Education and taught many students, including his sons, in his own way, to bring out the best in a child’s body, mind and soul. He never took it up as an occupation, but experimented to find out the best way to uplift India’s downtrodden to empower them.

Hitopadesha, a collection of Sanskrit fables in prose and verse, written in the 12th century India says, — “mAtA shatruH pitA vairI yena bAlo na pAThitaH | na shobhate sabhA\-madhye haMsa\-madhye bako yathA”. It means the parent who does not facilitate and guide the child in its studies is the greatest enemy of the child. So, teaching had always been considered a sacred act.

Greek Philosophers such as Aristotle, Socrates and Plato had also kept teaching the world without taking it up as an occupation. It was the burning passion in them which kept calling them to write and teach the future generations. Plato taught us about the holistic development of an individual to ensure a just society.

One who teaches well, teaches for satisfaction and not merely to earn a living. The essence of teaching is certainly self-satisfaction and effective dissemination of knowledge to nurture ‘model’ individuals. The passion for teaching also brings forth the development of one’s innate qualities.

A good teacher is one who brings out the best in the students. The passion to teach comes from the zeal to improve people. Since the later Vedic era, in India, the guru-shishya parampara is known to have played a formative role in the society. The guru used to impart his teachings on Vedas, grammar, etc., and the knowledge of Aatman or soul and also helped in self-realization. During the Buddha’s time, wandering monks congregated in monasteries and taught common men.

It is the passion for teaching that has given education a new and different dimension today. The system of imparting education has refined over the years. For a teacher imparting lessons to students comes naturally — it’s like the warm water beneath the earth’s surface which finds its way out as a water fountain whenever it finds a crevice. It would certainly be incorrect if the passion for teaching is understood in terms of mere occupation. The art of teaching is much more sublime. True teachers don’t know when they start teaching. Their passion knows no limit of time or space. Many a teacher has sacrificed better living and better jobs for their passion. Some people take up teaching as a hobby because they love it. Teaching cannot be called mere occupation, it’s rather a communication among people to bring out the best and develop a great bond between them.

About the Author
Anjana Mittra works as a teacher-cum-journalist, as well as a social worker. Her articles and features have been published in various magazines as well as newspapers.

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