Saturday 6 September 2014

What is a Teacher ?

Someone asked me: what do you mean by a teacher ? And I replied that a teacher is one who brings out the potential in a student.

  My answer was of course very brief, but on later reflection I realized that since the matter was one of vital importance for our country's future I must deal with it in detail, which I am doing here.

  The famous sculptor Michelangelo made the universally acclaimed statue of David ( which is presently in the Italian city of Florence). He had worked on it for months before he finally finished it. When he showed it to his friends they said he had created a masterpiece, but Michelangelo said he had not created anything. The statue was always there, he just chipped away the rough edges ( this dialogue was repeated by Col. Trautman in the film Rambo 3).

 This is what I meant when I replied to the question. Indians have tremendous potential, but most of it it is lying unused, because of which we are not making rapid progress in the world.
Many years ago I had gone to meet a farmer friend of mine, who had been my classmate in Allahabad University, in his village about 40 kms. from Allahabad ( my native city). At his home I asked his son who had passed class 7 and gone into class 8 to bring his maths class book of class 7. When he brought it  I asked him to solve some easy questions, which he could not. I wondered how he could be promoted to class 8 when he could not solve class 7 questions.

    I then showed him how to solve some easy questions in a lesson in that book. Having learnt this, he proceeded to solve the more difficult problems in that lesson. It was obvious that here was a bright boy, but because his maths teacher did not teach him anything he could make no progress, and it was not that there was anything inherently lacking in that boy.

  When I had said that 90% Indians are fools, I did not mean that they are inherently fools. In fact Indians are some of the most intelligent people in the world, considering the fact that they invented the decimal system and the concept of zero, and invented plastic surgery,  etc which were all revolutionary achievements for those times, and considering that even now Silicon Valley in America and many of the science and mathematics departments in American Universities are full of Indian Professors.

  What I had meant was that unfortunately the Indian mind, though inherently intelligent, was covered with a thick layer of backwardness in the form of casteism, communalism and superstitions due to the persistence of feudal ideas and practices even in modern times. Once we chip away that layer Indians will make rapid progress in the world, and will come to the forefront in science and technology, and for that modern minded teachers are required.

  In this connection I may mention the educational method of the great Chinese thinker Confucius. Confucius, when teaching, avoided giving lengthy discourses on a subject ( for that would be boring to the students), but  instead he would pose questions and wait for the student himself to come up with the right answer. In other words, he would try to bring out the potential inherent in the student. This was also the method of Socrates, and this is the method our teachers should also follow.


  1. Very true sir that young Indian minds are covered with casteism, communalism and superstition.
    Would be glad if you would have given space to evils of coaching classes and reservation policy.

  2. 'A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.' Henry Adams.
    So is the influence of Justice Katju.

  3. Dear Justice Katju,

    1. Jesus led by example like a good teacher. He taught humility by washing the feet of his disciples though he was their teacher and by embracing the Cross.

    2. Jesus taught in parables like the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, the sower which commonfolk could easily understand and did not give lengthy and complex theological discourses on the Kingdom of God.

    3. Jesus welcomed all and did not shun anybody who came to listen to him. All were welcome.(tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes, clerics etc.). On the other hand Ekalavya could not learn from Dronacharya because of his lower caste.

    4. Jesus taught for just 3 years but in such a short span he influenced the entire world. Today Christianity is the largest religon and the Bible the best selling book of moral values.

    5. Jesus did not seek any "Guru dakshina" (student repaying his teacher).

    Jesus taught free of cost and healed people free of cost.

    Poor Ekalavya had to cut his finger and give to Dronacharya.

    Today Jesus' disciples serve the society free of cost like Mother Teresa and her army of nuns who serve the lepers and other outcasts of society.

    Christian social service is the best in the world.


    1. Jesus was so evil minded and violent person that bible saus just at the age of Nine yeats he aggressovely went on breaking idols on the market without being provoked by others.

      Jesus was so arrogant that he insisted that one can go to heaven only through him.

      Bible says earth is flat. Hindus said 5000 years before that earth is round.

      Bible says taht earth is center of uniberse. What a childish god's wotd !!