Transcending boundaries of race, religion or culture, since time immemorial, the world has always recognised and saluted knowledgeable, insightful, worthy, truthful and creative trendsetters. From early childhood itself, young minds are driven towards seeking knowledge and blessed are those who get the guidance to move away from the darkness of ignorance towards illuminating wisdom. In Indian scriptures, since Vedic age, the significance of ‘Guru’, the teacher, and ‘Shishya’, the student or follower, is highlighted. The syllable ‘gu’ means shadow, the syllable ‘ru’, he who disperses them. Because of the power to disperse darkness, the guru is thus named. In the Gita, Krishna speaks to Arjuna of the importance of finding a guru: Acquire the transcendental knowledge from a self-realised master by humble reverence, by sincere inquiry, and by service. The wise ones who have realised the ‘Truth’ will impart the ‘Knowledge’ to you. Swami Vivekananda said that there are many incompetent gurus, and that a true guru should understand the spirit of the scriptures, have a pure character and be free from sin, and should be selfless, without desire for money and fame. The teachers and learners of 21st century are not far from these definitions, though now guru is more of a friend, philosopher, facilitator and guide for their shishyas. The rigidity of the roles of the teacher and his pupil has ended and a role reversal is a possibility. The changing times have entailed the pupil to be a teacher in some domains and the teacher could be a pupil himself as age is not a barrier to learning. The guru-shishya relationship is as strong as ever, only perspectives have changed.
Arti Chopra, Principal,
Amity International School,
Sector 46, Gurgaon
The ancient concept of guru-shishya relationship or parampara has undergone a lot of changes in today’s context. However, the one aspect that remains constant is that knowledge is still transmitted to the student from the teacher. Another quality that remains extremely relevant is the fact that the teacher’s role as a ‘role-model’ is sacred and cannot be compromised at any cost. If we want our students to be honest, respectful, compassionate, tolerant and truthful, we must display these qualities in our daily dealings with them. The relationship that the teacher shares with the student today is more informal and friendly than spiritual. Teaching in today’s classrooms is certainly more challenging. It means identifying the needs and requirements of individual learners, adapting teaching-learning strategies to specific situations and making a constant effort to perfect the art of the ever-evolving character of teaching. Classrooms have become places where both teachers and students learn. Unquestioning acceptance of what the teacher says as gospel does not exist any longer. Teachers today are facilitators who open the door for their students. But changes notwithstanding, the special relationship between the teacher and the taught will continue to thrive in this dynamic environment.
Rita Sen, Principal, DPS Rohini
“Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.”
In today’s world, the role of a teacher has become very debatable in a child’s life. How much control should a teacher exercise over a student? Is the emotional well-being of a child also a part of a teacher’s job description? Are working parents expecting a teacher to carry the additional responsibility of finding solutions to problems faced by a child even at home? Are all these roles a part of a professional teacher’s job description? Well the solution to this very complex problem is quite simple — though India adopted the Western education system, she never completely gave up her rich tradition of guru-shishya parampara. In this system of education, the focus was not only on imparting knowledge to the students but on developing a relationship between the guru and the disciple. It was considered that this relationship, based on the genuineness of the guru, and the respect, commitment, devotion and obedience of the student, was the best way for subtle or advanced knowledge to be conveyed. In today’s democratic world of education we certainly do not look for obedience but love can build trust, which is a greater virtue. In my career of 26 years, I have had the opportunity to act as a teacher/ facilitator, friend and guide to hundreds of students. Let me tell you the pride I feel every time one of my students who I taught 10 or 20 years ago still remembers to call up and says that I made a difference. For educators like us these communications are more important than all other materialistic achievements in life. The student-teacher bond or guru-shishya relationship is a very special one and there are a million examples of how a teacher can make a very big and positive difference in a student’s life.
Ragini Kaul, Principal,
Maxfort School Rohini
‘Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well’ — Aristotle
A student-teacher relationship lies at the core of the process of learning. With the paradigms of education being in a constant state of flux, the dynamics of teacher-student relationship continue to evolve. Traditionally, in the ancient guru-shishya relationship, the guru was revered, feared and was alone responsible for shaping the life of his students. In the present times, the advent of internet and iPads have opened new vistas of learning, which enable students to explore and augment their knowledge of anything under the sun. A teacher today then plays the role of facilitator guiding students in the realms of knowledge as well as a mentor whose teachings lend a definite culture and set of values to students so that they grow up to be good human beings and responsible global citizens. There is a growing awareness and concern in the society regarding the rights of a child. It is imperative for all educators not to infringe upon the same. Indulging in corporal punishment or abuse of any kind would tarnish the bond between the teacher and the taught permanently. On the other hand, it is equally essential for students to respect their teachers and hold them in highest esteem as it is a necessary prerequisite to receive and accept the teachers’ advice and instruction. This would not only help to achieve the goals of education but also nurture a caring and lasting relationship between the two most important stakeholders engaged in the process of education.
L V Sehgal, Principal, Bal Bharati Public School, GRH Marg, New Delhi
Albert Einstein has rightly said that “It is the supreme art of
the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression & knowledge“.
Ever since ancient times, learning has been associated with a cordial student-teacher relationship. Many studies and researches across the globe have shown the essential need of a sound association between teachers and their students. It is very essential that the modern child be allowed to think and open his mind towards unlimited sources of learning. The relationship between a teacher and a student is one of faith and respect, wherein the teachers need to show faith in their students. On the other hand, students also need to understand their teachers’ perspective of the world and must acknowledge their mentor’s experience and taste of life. The teachers have always been considered a source of eternal light and inspiration in Indian culture, wherein the rise of renowned names such as Swami Vivekananda have taken this sacred bond to another level. In today’s times the world is full of distraction and illusion. Youth is running after easy money and is distracted by the glare of modern society. In such times, it is important that both teachers and students take a reality check to understand the need of the hour and work towards the golden rule – ‘Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheswaraha, Guru Saakshaat Parambrahma, Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha’
Rama Sethi, Principal, St. Mark’s Senior Secondary Public School, Janakpuri