To be a teacher is to be a seeker. A greedy grasping seeker for that spark that will ignite the world. In themselves and in their students. A need to give, to share and to see the eyes of their students light up in comprehension, as they see more of their path ahead.
Teaching is not just a vocation, nor is it pure science. Mere knowledge does not make a teacher, nor is it about empathy or reaching out. The former makes it clinical, the latter makes it a social gathering. A teacher is not just the conductor of an orchestra, nor just a facilitator, nor is teaching about increasing knowledge and getting marks. While all of these have been discussed ad nauseum, the mysterious core of what is a good teacher remains- like all good philosophical mysteries – available only to the initiated, to those who have experienced it.
And this much is true, that good teaching is an esoteric art, to be practiced with skill and precision. The art of teaching needs to be taught – it does not spring forth from a surfeit of knowledge, nor is it cultivated with an ability to analyse. Teaching does not require the ability to churn out books and papers. There are no guarantees that a teachers improve with involvement with ivory towers and specific branches of knowledge that earns them higher degrees.
Teachers are nurtured by teaching them the skills and supporting them through their journey of honing these very skills. The job of a teacher is to learn how to teach, to adapt to every need, to evolve over time along with the content and the audience. To learn is to grow, to teach is earn. Earning for a true teacher does include money, no doubt, and is much more.
And so, today, when I remember my teachers, who taught me both how to learn and how to teach, I cannot miss the one that was practically perfect in every way – Mary Poppins. Yes, of course she was a fictional character in a Disney movie, but everything she taught me holds true in every teaching I do – Teaching is about making magic happen. It is about laughter and rosy cheeks; about a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down; about order and discipline (Spit Spot!) and equally about imagination running riot. It is classless, yet about good manners. Above all it is about adventures, breaking bounds and understanding other perspectives. And then, when the lessons have been learnt and the bridges built, it is about gracefully gliding away, often ignored and forgotten, yet fulfilled.