Life of a teacher – not what it should be

Throughout my life, I have come across some of the most wonderful human beings that inspired me to push myself to the limit. I am proud to call them my teachers/professors. But as I grew up I gradually got to see the true nature of the kind of lives they lead. Later on, I also found that the most respected job in the country wasn’t welcomed by good compensation. The ones who have taken up the noble duty to provide the nation with an educated generation are treated with utter disrespect. Nowadays nobody wants to take up teaching as a profession. All these events eventually manages to sway the mentors’ minds so much that the communication gap increases between them and the students. This is why they are losing interest to teach in class. And it is our duty that we turn the tide while there’s still time.

 

Once upon a time there was a young man who had just started his new married life, and had a baby boy. He was studying in the University of Dhaka in the Applied Physics and Electronics department, and was a loved person. Due to his early marriage, he had to start giving tuitions to people at distant locations. Since we are talking about around two decades ago, in a developing country like Bangladesh, there wasn’t much of a transportation back then. Moreover, the one whom he used to tutor had a full schedule throughout the day. The only time he could study with the tutor was at dawn.

 

The baby boy was very attracted to his dad. But every day he used to wake up around 5 and found his dad was not at home. He had left to tutor that kid, a few miles away. He had to walk the whole distance. Once he would reach there, it was no point ringing the bells because even the security guard and the guard dogs would be sleeping. He literally had to climb past the gate and tiptoe past the guard and the dogs, which sounds highly illegal. But he had no choice, he had a baby to take care of. He used to wake his student up. The face of the tutor was the first one that the student used to see in the day. He used to tutor that kid for 2 hours a day and return home in the same fashion. The student was doing horrible with his math papers in school. But it was the excellence of the tutor that got the job done for him, and he gradually started showing signs of improvement. The tutor taught him and his siblings for 12 years. Now that student resides in Boston and works as a hardware engineer. I am proud to say that the tutor is none other than my own dad. I have seen all my life that the tutors do not want to help the ones that are a little poor in studies. Because they do not want to take the blame in case the students fail out. They do not have the guts to bear that burden.

 

Most of the people that my dad had taught throughout his lifetime so far were a bit weak in studies. They were weak yes, but not from the perspective of merit, rather mentally, psychologically. They didn’t have the strength to believe in their own abilities. Sometimes I would ask dad, “Why are you doing this? If they fail, they won’t think twice before blaming it on you”. He would reply, “I’m glad that you understand this, but do also realize this, they are not bad students. They are the ones suffering from a disease, which is of disbelief. They do not have the courage to believe in themselves. If a few initial successes starts building up that courageous mind, these children could work out miracles in the future”. And yes, that’s exactly what has happened. I have witnessed a student passing his SSC getting a GPA 5, scoring an 80 by answering just 84 who could never pass his school exams. He was shocked to the core, even when he came to meet my dad, and kept asking, “How is it possible sir? How did I get it?” there are many more examples like this. Who knows how many people he has managed to save from drowning into a state of grave depression due to poor academic standing?

 

In an Asian country like mine, many students would pick the choice of ending their lives, after being challenged with a horrible result in the first major exam of their life. Even when working as the head examiner of the department of physics in the National Curriculum and Textbook Board, he would think about these things seriously. Who knows how many people passed the exam because of him? He’s just like me, he doesn’t say much, never wants the spotlight, and he would be doing the same if a second chance came his way. The day that the results were published and I saw a high percentage of students passing their papers with flying colors, I knew somebody was laughing aloud behind the curtains; who deserved to have so much in life but was always neglected, one who wouldn’t care to build himself up so that he could build me up.

 

Teaching all the students throughout his life, he didn’t have any time to teach me anything. But here I am today, having a fair academic standing. I might not have had a clear conception about the subjects if I hadn’t read them on my own. Now I’m no Einstein, but I’m glad now that I can say like him, “I’m thankful for all of those who said no to me. It’s because of them I’m doing it myself.” My dad knew exactly how he would build me up, and I realize it today. There is nothing more happier than to have this feeling.

It takes none other than myself to discuss the life of a teacher. Because I have seen my dad up close and personal. Working as an assistant teacher in school for eight years of his life, and working as a private tutor for the most of his lifetime, I have seen his struggle. He used to work from dawn to dusk to keep the family up and running. He used to teach from 10 to 4 in school, and he barely had an hour break to take lunch. Sometimes he would stay up all night to finish up checking the exam papers since he would show it to them the next day. This is what I think happens to all who teach, and it is quite logical to imply as such. They work for 24/7, 365 days a year. They barely have a vacation and even if they do, they might have to check a few bundles of exam papers in that time, while taking a breath. This is what happens in developing countries, mostly in the south Asian countries, from my experience.

 

According to my thoughts the teachers are the backbone of a nation, only they can make us educated, and open new doors for us. Wisdom is what is required to make a teacher, not a degree for showing off. If you want examples, then I could talk about the great wise Socrates. He never had a degree, but then why do we follow his ideals up until this day? It’s not what to teach, rather how to teach that can bring in groundbreaking differences in the future that we would have. I have had a geography class last semester, which I took accidentally. But now I can say, I was very lucky to have chosen that class. The professor taught us life, rather than stressing on with geography. But the very same one, when asked about his life and about his compensation he told me that he was getting less than me. And I was left stunned. This just implied that he was getting less than even the ones who were working in the McDonalds. That day I literally had a curiosity to check the salary charts of the professors in my college; and it left me with an utter disgust towards the society. This is mostly true for adjuncts, but sometimes we do even see the tenured professors leaving the college for a better place, and we all know why. They expected us to take care of them as they would for us, but we failed.

 

One of my professors have worked in many jobs throughout his life. One of the major part of his job was writing articles about make-ups. Now it’s quite obvious that he wanted to get rid of that workplace since it wasn’t his cup of tea. Nowadays, I think sometimes he might feel to know more about make-ups rather than the English Language. He didn’t like the job but it paid him more. When he came to teach in college, he didn’t care about the money even though it was way less. Some things in life are not just about money. People want to do their job because they like it. Most people do not have a job that they like, and once opportunity knocks, they take that chance.

In this country I have seen the students abusing the teacher, both verbally and almost physically. The professor literally had to throw him out of his class twice before calling security on the third day. While working in the math lab, I myself do feel like I’m being used like a trash can. The same people who wear a mask of calling me brother and showing me fake respect are the very same ones who might knock me down once I come out of the lab.

Education is a noble profession. But the same ones that take up the heavy responsibility to make us wise are not compensated for even the slightest fraction of their work. The professors are like our friends. It is our duty to show them respect. Courtesy begets courtesy. Treating them with respect will make them friendlier towards us; providing us with the opportunity to learn better.

 

I have asked many of my friends and students about their aim in life. No one wants to be a teacher, and I’m not surprised. Most people come up in the math lab and complains about their professor. I always tell them not to speak of it in front of me because I know the truth. Nobody wants to work in an environment to give their 100% and then be verbally abused. In the Asian countries, the authority in the institution takes action against students even if they are right. Over here in New York City, the authority takes no action. Because they need both their professors and students to make a name of themselves, for reputation to be precise.

 

All these are swaying away the professors’ minds, to turn against us passively. This includes reducing the communication gap with us, not covering the most important parts of a topic. Our job as a tutor is to help students with their problems but it seems like most often, we end up teaching the materials to the students. Who knows what the future holds for me, since I want to become a professor and get into research. But I do know this, what goes around comes around. If we are not the ones to care for them, the upcoming generation are not going to care about us too. Who knows, among them might be the children of our current professors. Will they forget about the insults their parents had to endure while coming to work every day? It’s time we turn the tide, while there’s still time.

 

“The job of the modern educator is not to cut down forests, but to irrigate deserts” – C.S Lewis

Awnon Bhowmik
Author: Awnon Bhowmik

I know very little to be proud about it. Mathematics enthusiast, possess a lust for mathematical/computational knowledge

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