What should be the Role of Teachers in Contemporary Education System?

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks
The educated persons of today are concerned solely about the well-being of themselves and their families and have no interest in the welfare of the world. Education should aim at making a person take pleasure in promoting the well-being of all people. After birth, as a person grows, he develops associations with relations, friends, teachers and many others. It is through these numerous relationships that one's human qualities develop. Without these associations the lone individual would remain at the animal level. One's human nature is developed by society and contacts with kinsmen, friends and others. You have to show your gratitude to all of them by striving for their well-being.

From this, you have to proceed to the acquisition of a wide range of knowledge. This is what is meant by the statement ‘Awareness is life.’ Confining your interests to a few subjects will result in narrow-mindedness. To acquire a wide outlook and have comprehensive knowledge of men and things, you have to cultivate many good qualities. Teachers today confine their teaching to imparting knowledge and skills useful for earning a livelihood. But they do not teach anything about life itself, how it should be lived and the basic goals of life. Learning to earn an income is not a great thing. Learning how to live worthily as a human being is what is essential. Teachers also should concern themselves about the essential meaning of life and teach the students about the basic truths of life.

Students today are seeking education not for the sake of knowledge but as a means to earning money or wielding power. This is not true education. It is the discovery of one's spiritual essence that constitutes real education. All the evils that we witness in the world today stem from a perverted system of education. The so-called educated persons have no control over their senses. 

Faith in God

It should be realised that it is the power of the Divine that enables one to see, to speak, to move and to think. All the powers of the sense organs are derived from the Divine. Man in his conceit may imagine that he is the doer. This is the result of ignorance and folly. You have to ascertain what it is that underlies all creation, which is responsible for their existence. The answer is Divinity. Without faith in the Divine nothing can be achieved. There is no need to seek a reason for this faith. It has no reason or season. It is beyond reason, like the love of a child for its mother. The child loves the mother for the only reason that she is the mother. When one is asked why he has faith in God, his reply should be: “Because He is my God.” You should develop such confidence. Only with such firm faith can you realise God. And that firm faith can considerably enhance your strength.

There are elements today which undermine whatever little confidence the students have. The students are innocent; their hearts and minds are unpolluted; they are selfless. But some interested persons infuse doubts in their minds. Some parents and some teachers are to be blamed. When teachers address the students, they must try to strengthen the faith of the students by their example. When a teacher's conduct is at variance with what he teaches, how can he/she serve as an example? When teachers call for discipline among the students, they themselves should adhere to discipline. If the teachers conduct themselves well, all will be well with the students.

Senior Students should Set an Ideal Example

An ironic aspect of education today is that as a student advances in education, his character goes on declining. Children in the primary school observe perfect discipline and are well behaved. As they progress towards the secondary school their purity and discipline suffer. By the time they reach the university, everything becomes topsy-turvy. As they grow in years, they lose self-control. What is the reason? As they grow in years, their mental balance is upset and they lose steadiness of mind and self-control. The older students have a harmful influence on the younger ones. Hence, it is most important that the senior students should correct themselves and set a good example to others. Everyone should bear in mind that all the regulations and discipline that have been prescribed for the students are conceived solely in their own interest. Only those who are prepared to abide by these rules and regulations deserve to be here.

Role of Teachers and Parents in Moulding Students

Then, there are the teachers. They become parents of children in due course. But that is not important in itself. They should become ideal parents. If teachers fail to bring up their own children in an exemplary manner, how are they going to mould the other children who come under their care? Many parents spoil the children when they come home for the holidays. Whatever discipline the student had cultivated at school or college is undermined at home. Many parents tend to pamper their children and spoil them as Dhritarashtra did. Parents may commend what is good in their children, but they should not hesitate to chastise them when they go astray. It is because of the excessive indulgence shown by parents that many students are spoilt. Nor is that all. When a boy comes home and keeps up his spiritual practices, the parents rebuke him for his devotion and tell him that there is time enough for him to observe such practices in his old age. Parents of this type who undermine the seeds of devotion in their children are modern versions of Hiranyakashyap (Prahlada's father).

Parents should see that the children are kept on the right path at all times. The students, for their part, should make it clear to their parents that they will not give up on any account the good things they have imbibed in their educational institution. When the children recite at home a prayer, before taking food, as they do in their hostel, they are sometimes ridiculed for observing such a practice. The students should have the courage to tell their parents that the prayer is being said as an expression of gratitude to the Divine who is the provider of all things. You should not give up the practice, if you cannot persuade your parents to do so. Students should develop into such exemplary persons. Be respectful towards your parents, but do not hesitate to tell them what you feel to be right in all humility and reverence.

Mere bookish knowledge does not constitute education. Nor does it mean the ability to juggle with words. Education means broadening the heart. It implies development of control over the senses. It should make one seek to promote the good of the world. It should serve to instill all good qualities in the student. An education that is devoid of such qualities is worthless.

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