Teachers Day has always been one full of surprises. It is so true even today, in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions and the “new normal,” into which each one of us is gradually getting immersed. Yesterday evening, as I was moving to the Chapel for community prayers of the Rosary, a small group of three young girls stopped me: “Please see our dance,” they said. “Oh! You are getting ready to surprise your teachers!” was all I could utter. Their faces brightened up.
Thirty minutes of prayer swiftly flew, and as I entered my office to log on to an online provincial vocation coordinators meet, a small group of four boys called to me: “Sister, please see our skit…”
Teaching today: an adventurous task
Teaching has always been a pleasant, adventurous and committing task. Today, in the midst of COVID-19, with online teaching, it has become even more adventurous and more and more teachers are getting the hang of it all. Teachers are very familiar with sending of links, screen sharing, making online classes alive and participative, etc. A word of praise and admiration goes to our younger generation, who are experts at modern technology. It is amazing to watch a teacher’s son/daughter flying in at the correct moment with the right click to assist mom/dad, while they are busy with their online classes.
Multiplicity of methods and styles of teaching
Throughout the course of the century, human beings have witnessed a variety of methods and styles of teaching. A peep into some of the significant books in the field of education, and to relevant methods of teaching imparted to those trained for teaching, will certainly arouse curiosity and wonder. There is so much available, by way of teaching styles and methods. There is much more still in the making…
Online or offline
No matter whether we are online or offline, the child is at the heart of all our teaching. Muriel Spark affirms, “The word ‘education’ comes from the root “e” from “ex” (out) and “duco” (I lead). It means “a leading out.” To me, education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul. In this process of leading out, education becomes a dynamic process of interaction between the teachers: the one who teaches and the one who is taught.
Paulo Coelho has expressed it aptly:
A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.
In the midst of sharing and caring
The surge of COVID-19 has multiplied in our global human family genuine gestures of sharing and caring. An open online dialogue with a group of young college students from St. Andrew’s College, Bandra, and with those of Auxilium, Baroda Junior College, did bring to our notice how the family scenario has changed, all of a sudden, as a consequence of the pandemic. Youngsters are more and more tuned to see things from the perspective of their parents; they are alert to step in when their parents are under pressure. A good number of teachers are busy accompanying youngsters to face the “new normal,” at home.
A child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him. ~ Pablo Casals
Fixing our glance on Jesus the Teacher
With two groups of Catechism teachers, I had the joy of fixing our glance on Jesus the Teacher. Jesus always had his listeners at heart. He spoke to them making use of life situations: How can we not recall to mind Mark 12:41-44, the Widow’s Offering?
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.
Jesus spoke to the people using stories: Surely you will remember the parable of the Growing Seed, in Mark 4:26-29.
He said, “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.”
Jesus spoke to them asking questions and answering them: Certainly the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:36-37 is on the tip of your tongue, with that ever provoking question:
“Which if these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told them, “Go and do likewise.”
Time and again, Jesus spoke to the people referring to Scriptures: The classic text that comes to mind is Luke 4:16-21. Jesus affirmed,
“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Then we have Jesus’ friendly approach, in John 21:5-7:
Jesus called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”
When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.
Finally, Jesus taught by his own love and life style. Matthew 12:9-13 informs us that,
Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.
Happy Teachers Day, our beloved Teachers!
Teaching is a vocation and a mission.
A man never stands as tall as when he kneels to help a child. ~ Knights of Pythagoras
A woman truly knows when to bend down and listen to a child with her heart.
This article originally appeared in Indian Catholic Matters, on September 5, 2021