Essence of Educational Inspiration

ARTICLE | | BY Vidya Rangan

Vidya Rangan

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Education in the largest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, personality and the physical ability of an individual. In its technical sense, education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills, and values from one generation to another. The present education system in India promotes a battle of unhealthy competition among our children. They have to read and memorize the entire textbook without any understanding of it. The child does not acquire any analytical skills that they must receive during the course of their learning. Unfortunately, our education system does not help in developing the personality of a child. It is personality that is more important than academic qualification. The article here is an attempt to throw some light upon certain fundamental aspects in student teacher relationship which would help enhance the overall child’s learning capacity

Most Indian children are not able to do critical analysis of anything, for example our history, culture and religion. They take the line of establishment or the views of the predominant majority and fail to think on their own, thereby arriving at knowledge by connecting the known facts and converting them into ideas.

They are simply not able to look at things from their own perspectives. If we want our society to become a lot better than what it is today, then we must develop a culture of looking at things critically in order to arrive at a comprehensive understanding, where teachers should be able to cascade their knowledge and experience effectively to the children.

My article here is an attempt to throw some light upon certain fundamental aspects in student-teacher relationship which would help enhance the child’s learning capacity overall.

No child can be taught if there is punishment, abusing or even scolding.

It is important not to hit, abuse or physically punish the children. They generally are not able to make any connection between their behaviour and punishment. Instead, they want to avoid the source of punishment. The fear for punishment controls their behaviour. They do not correct their behaviour by understanding their mistakes. When they think that they are not being watched, the tendency to engage in the behaviour reasserts in them. Punished children do what was punished behind teachers and parents. So instead of a punitive approach if we shift to a guidance approach it will open the door for working together. It creates trust and invites cooperation. It offers children a chance to understand themselves and others. It gives us an opportunity to be seen as a safe and trusted source of meaningful guidance. What is essential is that the child must discipline himself out of interest for the subject and inspiration that he gets from the teacher. If interest is released in the children, they will like to learn as they like to eat and play.

The more the child’s mind expands in magnanimity, the better he evolves into a better human being. If the teacher is magnanimous the child will learn to be magnanimous. The child learns most of his lessons subliminally from the teacher. We must first understand our students from not only academic perspectives and cognitive developmental stages, but from emotional, psychological, cultural and socio-economic perspectives, as well. How you teach is more important than what you teach. Children are watching our every move, every response. They are noticing every slightest change in the tone of our voice and our body language. They can see and feel whether we are in stress, overworked or overwhelmed, whether we are happy or sad. So the attitude of the teacher will directly affect the student. If we as educators are compassionate and understanding toward our students, we increase their potential to learn. This is what I call magnanimous teaching.

The child must be inspired to read the subject. The inspiration and interest must be evoked by the teacher. If there is one thing we know about kids, it is that they have short attention spans and prefer to postpone things. It is one of the most difficult aspects of becoming a teacher learning how to motivate the students. Students who are not motivated would not learn effectively. Also they will not only not participate but also become disruptive and get distracted by external forces. While motivating the children is a difficult task, the results would be a rewarding experience. Motivated students are most excited to learn and participate. Some children are self-motivated with a natural love for learning. But even with the students who do not have the natural drive, a great teacher can make learning fun and inspire them to reach their maximum potential.

The teacher’s enormous interest in the subject should be communicated to the child, the child must be inspired by the teacher to acquire interest. How can we do this? The teachers should inspire the children in the best possible ways. For teaching to be effective, the teacher must love their subjects first and be brilliant enough to communicate what they have learnt to the children so they enjoy learning with enthusiasm. The best teacher is a person who is able to make the child feel confident. They should have the ability to make kids feel like they are individually important.

They must know how to encourage and connect with children regardless of their own levels of education. But it is seen that the process comes down to hard work rather than inspiration. Teaching is all about the relationship between teacher and pupil more than anything else. The best teachers are always wanting to do and finding out more about their own subject, pushing out the boundaries of their learning and teaching. Teachers need to keep learning and growing. They are not to be characterised by their own academic performance but by their thirst for creativity and ability to pass on the benefits of education. A few inspiring ideas from my experience are

  • Energise classrooms with innovative strategies
  • Include small play methods and games when teaching
  • Get to know the students closely
  • Use examples and analogies by way of short stories
  • Be a role model to them
  • Make teaching interactive instead of resorting to one-way communication

Once the interest is awakened learning is automatic that you cannot prevent the child from learning. Interest and inspiration are infectious and they easily spread. They go from the teacher to a student. They spread from one student to the others.

“One of the characteristics of a great teacher is the ability to bring out the best in their students.”

The teacher must know the subject from the very first principles, meaning the teacher must know the subject as the textbook writer knows. That subject matter is an essential component of a teacher’s knowledge. After all, if teaching entails helping others learn, then understanding what is to be taught is a central requirement. Curious students will come to class asking questions about the subject and the teacher may not know the answer. Being able to ask and answer questions is an important part of teaching and learning. Teachers can encourage this spark of curiosity in children. Inspiration rises in children when they are allowed to interact in the classroom. For this, it is necessary that the teachers possess mastery in their subject of teaching.

The attention of the child on the teacher is a function of teacher’s devotion to the subject. The mastery of the subject in a teacher creates a conducive atmosphere of learning in a child. Children will work harder for the teacher they respect.

The lower the class the higher should be the qualification of the teacher. Teaching kindergarten is definitely not easy. In fact, it is an art. When we teach older grades, if a student is struggling, we can go back to the basics and build up from there. In kindergarten, we are in the basics and the children are in their most formative years of education. They will mentally respond only to the energy, inspiration, cheerfulness of the teacher and physically to toys, stories and games that may interest them. So, it is not easy to approach them and help them to extend their cooperation and willingness to learn. Their social skills are only now developing and depending on personalities and each day may be different from the next. So it is very challenging. There are schools where the 1st grade is taught by a Ph.D graduate of Cambridge.

Teachers of kindergarten need enormous patience, understanding and various resourceful techniques to work with the kids which comes only by culture, education and experience in the field.

The education that the child gets is a gift of the expanding personality of the teacher. A great teacher is sensitive to children’s needs. To excite and inspire a student requires excitement and a passion for the material itself. Enthusiasm is contagious. All it takes for a student to get excited about going to class is a teacher who is excited and whose positive energy fills the classroom. Creativity is a key to captivating a student. Showing a student something they have not seen before, even showing them something familiar but in a new way is the surest way to leave an impression that lasts for years. A great teacher must be dedicated to their students, with an unwavering commitment to their education and well-being. One of the characteristics of a great teacher is the ability to bring out the best in their students. A great teacher recognizes their students’ potential to become great people, and they inspire them to be just that.

“A child is a self-developing entity and all that a teacher needs to do is to not regard him as an object to be handled and moulded but to create a conducive learning atmosphere to enable him to learn on his own, to develop his intellectual, moral, aesthetic and practical capacities and to help him grow into a fully functioning individual.”

Almost anyone can become a teacher but it takes a special person to be a great teacher. To inspire students, the teacher must rise above the crowd and make a lasting impression.

The discipline of the children depends on the self-discipline of the teacher. Teachers follow students through each pivotal stage of development. In fact, a teacher is a role model influencing every facet of the students’ growth and developing their innate potentials, in addition to being a motivator, guide and friend. However, moral responsibility for their students rests primarily on the shoulders of the teachers. Unless teachers are disciplined themselves, teaching discipline to students will not be effective.

Creating inspiration in students is developing a constant passion in them for learning. When that happens, they will never cease to grow. A child is a self-developing entity and all that a teacher needs to do is to not regard him as an object to be handled and moulded but to create a conducive learning atmosphere to enable him to learn on his own, to develop his intellectual, moral, aesthetic and practical capacities and to help him grow into a fully functioning individual.

The goal of the school is not even education; it is certainly not earning money. The greatest goal of the school is to enable the child to emerge as a fully functioning individual. Education is the most powerful means to achieve this goal.

About the Author(s)

Vidya Rangan
Academic Director, Primrose School, Pondicherry