The universally accepted World Teacher's Day is 5th October, but In India, the Teacher's Day is celebrated on 5th September every year and this tradition started in 1962. This is the date when the great philosopher, thinker, scholar and former President of India Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born.
Prior to becoming the President of India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was a popular and friendly teacher among his students. Radhakrishnan was a prominent philosopher and writer and also held the position of vice-chancellor of the Andhra University and Banaras Hindu University. He received the Bharat Ratna Award in 1954 before becoming the President of India. He was the first President from South India. He was respected and loved by his pupil for the way he taught, for the way he behaved and for the way he led his life. He was widely known for his scholarship and wisdom.
One day his students and friends requested him to allow them to celebrate his birthday in a befitting manner. In return, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan told that it would be his pleasure and honor if they celebrated his birthday in the name of all the teachers. And thus, since then this day i.e. 5th September is being celebrated as Teacher's Day in India.
To celebrate Teacher’s Day is a big tribute we pay to a teacher. As a matter of fact, a teacher is a friend, philosopher, and guide who holds our hand opens our mind and touches our heart. The contribution of a teacher cannot be ignored at all. In many countries across the world, teacher's day is a special day where teachers of schools, colleges, and universities are honored gratefully, though the date varies from country to country.
Needless to mention here that teaching is the one of the noblest, persuasive and important professions in the world. Teachers are known to shape the minds of the youth and enlighten them with knowledge and wisdom. Additionally, the teacher imparts good values in children and shape them into responsible citizens. In other words, teachers are real architects of the society and without them, no society can flourish and tread on the path of progress and prosperity. It is, therefore, that almost every country celebrates Teacher's Day on their respective dates.
Now let us assess the qualities of a good teacher, his method of teaching and above all his contribution to the society he lives in. As a matter of fact, the importance and role of a teacher in society is of utmost importance and his contribution to society is manifold. It matters little whether he is a university, college or school teacher because of his contribution to the society he is living in, is diverse as well as significant.
It has been rightly pointed out that a person’s role as a teacher has far-reaching influences on society and, undoubtedly, no other person can have a more profound influence than a teacher. At every stage of teaching, students are deeply influenced by a teacher’s love and affection, his character, his competence and his moral commitment etc. A popular teacher is a role model for his students. The students try to follow their teacher in his manners, dress, etiquette, and style of conversation. During children’s early education, students tend to determine their aims in life and their future. A good and visionary teacher can play a prominent role in establishing the future of his students.
When we speak of quality teachers, it means that a teacher must be a symbol of faith and should have a good knowledge of the subject. He should feel that his students have been entrusted to him and he should avoid any breach of that trust. He should be a sociable person with his roots in the community. People should take him as their well-wisher and a sincere friend who cares for children. It should be ascertained at all costs that a candidate for this profession has a natural acumen and aptitude for teaching. He should know the art of teaching, with deep insight into child psychology.
A good teacher should always deal with students in an unprejudiced and affectionate manner. He should not lose his temper at mistakes his students may commit, and instead, should respect their feelings and try to understand and resolve their difficulties with patience. He should be able to smile in the face of bitter criticism against his opinions and not feel ashamed to accept his mistakes wholeheartedly. He should be a missionary, a mentor, a reformer and a guide besides being a dedicated tutor. In other words, he should be a perfect teacher and a perfect educationist.
While highlighting the role of a teacher in society, it is also necessary to say a few words about the parents of the children, who too, have some responsibility to contribute to the reforming of their children. Fathers need to be friendlier towards their children more so when they attain the age of 16. Famous Indian teacher-turned politician Chanakya, (4th century BC) known for his diplomacy and knowledge on worldly affairs too has very rightly pointed out that fondle a son until he is five years of age, and use the stick for another ten years, but when he has attains his 16th year, treat him as your beloved friend.
Greek philosopher Aristotle, too, believed “those who educate the children are more to be honored than their parents because these give them life only but those the art of living well”.
In ancient India, education was perfect and complete because of the sacred and selfless personal relationship between the teacher and the taught which we are tremendously lacking in recent times. Today, the whole educational world is surcharged with gross and violent indiscipline manifesting through the various forms of students’ unrest.
To avoid this unwelcome tendency in the field of education, we must evoke heartily this high ideal of teacher-pupil relationship which prevailed in the ancient world. The pious and selfless relationship between a teacher and his pupil has always been one of the main features or contours of olden times more especially of the Indian culture.
In Indian concept, a teacher is the spiritual and intellectual father of the taught. Without the help of the teacher, no education is possible. He is regarded as the “Guru”—a great friend, a philosopher and the guide.
His relationship with his disciple was social and spiritual. Nowhere in this world was the implication of this statement been better implemented than in ancient India. A development of the relation between the teacher or guru and the pupil was the exaltation of the teacher to such an extent of reverence that he the guru was worshipped by his pupil.
The pupil felt genuine 'bhakti' (devotion for the guru). In fact, the disciple was taught to worship his guru as God. Guru gobind dou khade, kaake lagoon paay, balihari guru aapne gobind diyo batay - (Kabir)
It means, "Guru and God both are standing before me, whom should I bow to first? All glory be unto the guru, who unfolded for me the path of God!"
It will be proper here to take stock of parent-children interaction dispassionately. Parents, too, owe much to reform, supervise and monitor the day to day working of their children from time to time.
Leaving everything to the school and school teachers is not fair enough. Parents need to involve themselves actively to watch the daily progress of their school going, children. But unfortunately, that is not happening.
Whatever time parents have at their disposal is consumed by newspapers, television and other recreations. As a result, the younger generation hardly gets an opportunity to share ideas with their elders or to enter a meaningful discussion.
Similarly, this idea is gaining ground among enlightened parents, too, that modern education is not meant to build up better human beings, but only to get better jobs. Consequently, the students' minds are obsessed with better jobs and dreams for higher social status. It is, therefore, the duty of the parents, too, to take an active interest in the day-to-day progress of their children both in and outside the institution and apprise them of the real meaning of education.
Last but not the least, it won’t be out of context to mention here that teachers’ interests and their social respectability need to be adequately taken care of: their salaries and perks made better, service-conditions reformed and status in the society elevated. If our society/governments do that then only Teacher’s Day celebrations will testify to the message and relevance for which they are celebrated.
Dr. Shiben Krishen Raina
Currently in Ajman (UAE)
Member, Hindi Salahkar Samiti,
Ministry of Law & Justice (Govt. of India)
Senior Fellow, Ministry of Culture (Govt. of India)
Dr. Raina's mini bio can be read here: