Teaching is Not Just a Profession

Sunder Gandikota

Having been a professional in the manufacturing industry for some years, I have observed that a professional is liked by those who have gone beyond the profession and developed a deeper relationship with all around. One who has not this deeper relationship may even be successful in the long run sometimes, but would have won over only the minds of colleagues not their hearts. Also I have observed that even if one is not strictly professional, in the sense of being a task master, one can be equally successful in an organization. With this as one of the premises of my management philosophy, I made efforts to graduate out of a professional into an integral human being and expectedly found that from such a plane of operation the search for excellence, professionalism and humanism work synergically - without any contradiction.

Being a much deeper vocation, teaching demands that the entire individual be completely involved in a close relationship with students for a free communication to be established. Unless this happens teaching would be, in some sense, incomplete and defmitely not ajoyous experience for the teacher or the student. A relationship that remains supple enough for communication to remain open within a completely dynamic, evolving situation can only come about when the heart, soul and mind of the teacher are behind, and in, the act of teaching. This would appear to me to be possible only beyond the domain of professionalism. It may even be that some aspects of professionalism have to be unlearnt before such a deep relationship is struck with the students to enable an efficient, joyous and enriching experience to occur.

Surely one would grant that there are some aspects of what we call 'professionalism' in teaching that do not come in the way of such a deep relationship with the student. For instance, can the teacher see the importance of planning a broad structure for the class which also allows sufficient flexibility to respond to the living quality of the student? He ensures that he is not just one step ahead of the students in a grasp of the subject, but has sufficient mastery to appreciate the frontiers of a discipline. He nurtures the capacity in himself to meet the students at their level of understanding and take them beyond. It requires a resolve not to depend on techniques of entertainment to artificially boost interest. Then, perhaps, establishing right relationship with students can go along with a concern for professional rigour.

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