Saturday, November 13, 2021

Ignoramus knows more!

 One of the things that I was completely unaware of, was the Pulitzer prize for criticism. It hurt! The moment  I heard this news, I was in despair. How can such a prize be in existence and how am I not a recipient for at least three years in a row? Knowledge is supposed to make you all-knowing, calm and serene and all that but this info just made me made jealous, ignorant and frustrated. The next thing they’ll tell me is that there is a prize, Pulitzer or otherwise for cynicism and, and, AND I’m not on that winners list either. I’m offended on my own behalf. Better that than being offended on another’s behalf, right?

Jokes apart, one would think knowledge is the most sought after commodity in the world but it isn’t. Mentees are. No matter how knowledgeable one isn’t, people seek followers, interns, probationers, students, fans etc. In short mentees. All of us want to be mentors. Every General wants a rookie,  every politician wants an intern (for more than one reason but let’s stick to the topic), every CEO desires a blue eyed boy, every artist wants an apprentice, doctors, diplomats and decorators are not far behind either. It’s astounding that being at the pinnacle of your career is never enough, what defines you is how many underlings you have managed to churn out whose successes can be claimed by you. Everyone, be it an athlete who takes up coaching, or an actor who takes up direction, everyone wants to invariably become a teacher. Even Oprah - the talk show goddess with the midas touch, has churned out Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Nate Berkus etc. and ended up opening a school.

We teachers are the lucky ones though. We don’t have to spend 30 years of our lives, making a reputation in order to gather valuable students. We get them on day one. The opportunity to dispense gyan, point to the right direction, open windows of thought and inquiry are handed to us on a platter from the get go. What child hasn’t gone home and emulated their teacher?  We are the ultimate profession and yet the worst paid of the lot. Everyone wants to become a teacher, but no one really wants to pay for those of us who actually trained to become one and are good at it.  We don’t just deal with new recruits, we deal with brand new humans!

The millennium has also brought out a whole host of ‘motivational speakers’. To do what?  God knows, but Mcphilosophy is being dispensed at a rate that will put the Deepak Chopra quote generator to shame.   This urge to assume you can motivate people has gone viral during the pandemic. Put six idiots on a screen and one of them is motivating the other five - to become a motivator. The need to become a celebrity and be known beyond immediate circles has somehow been amplified by virtual conferences. Again, we won this round of the lottery. Teachers were stars. 

Most of us worked year round with no vacations, but more importantly we hit the ground running. There was no lockdown for us. Not even for a day. We went from classrooms to living rooms even bedrooms in a matter of hours. We were performers. For the last year and half, we had a captive audience, not just of students but their plus twos. Parents, grandparents, helpers, extended family, cousins, siblings, just everyone.  We were in people’s homes and people were in ours.  We did our jobs pantless but with a full face of makeup! Our screens were carefully positioned in one of the most beautiful corners of our homes and we had 100 percent attendance. Kids skip school, but with parents working from home, the parents needed a structure to their day and we did that service. We had class picnics, Christmas parties and Diwali celebrations online. And like well paid celebrities, we had a massive fan following!

Teachers teach, teachers facilitate learning, teachers encourage students to teach and teachers create an environment conducive to learning so that they can do their jobs and do it well. Skills and knowledge need to be passed on - and mentors should do so only for the love of their subjects and to ensure a protégé's success NOT as a measure of one’s own.