A National Agenda for Education - Teacher Education

Teacher Education

Teacher Education:

Objectives, Problems and Recommendations

All education is about knowledge and wisdom, about courage and heroism, about art of harmony, and about skill for effective productivity, excellence and perfection. But above all, the central figures of education are the teacher and the pupil, — the teacher, who has the power to inspire and uplift and the pupil who has thirst and who raises his hand for upliftment. And the interrelationship between the teacher and the pupil generates that secret process by which the heritage of the past is transmitted for purposes of the future. Without the teacher, the accumulated experience of the past remains barren, and without the pupil the future remains unborn. For the teacher, pupil is the sovereign, for the pupil, teacher is the sovereign. In the ultimate analysis, nothing is as important in the human society as the pupil, and nothing is as sacred as the teacher.

According to the Indian tradition, the sacredness of the teacher is derived from the fact that he represents the inmost living teacher of the world, jagadguru, who is the perennial guide and master, and unless the human teacher becomes a pure vehicle of the jagadguru must remain an apprentice, who needs constant training. And this process of training is a long process of discipline and austerity, which must be conducted with unending patience. And the mark of accomplishment will be when he, like, the Rishi of the Kenopanishad, declares: "He by whom It is not thought out, has the thought of It; he by whom It is thought out knows It not." Such is the highest perspective for the teacher, a perspective that invites the teacher to become a constant pupil so that as a child he leads children, as a brother, he calls his brothers and sisters, as a light, he effortlessly kindles other lights.

Fortunately, this tradition had not remained a dream parable

Teacher Education

Teacher Education

but there has been a living succession of teachers who have provided luminous examples of this tradition. It is true that in the course of history, and in the recent centuries of decline, these examples have not been numerous, but since our country became renascent in the immediate past, we have begun to cherish an aspiration to multiply such teachers as were Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, and Sri Aurobindo. Not long ago, efforts were made to create nurseries of new types of teachers who could spread knowledge as spontaneously as flowers spread their fragrance. Unfortunately, since the attainment of independence, that effort became quite dim and it even got relegated into the background, although from time to time, it is being revived to some extent. But the time has now come again when both from teachers as also from the educational system, which has a number of partners in the society, we can expect efforts that should create conditions for the growth of the teachers who would increasingly approximate the ideals that we cherish in our country.

When the National Council for Teacher Education came to be established on 17.8.1995, it was like a dream coming true. For decades, educationists all over the country had felt the need for statutory status for the National Council for Teacher Education, which was at that time functioning as a body. within the National Council for Educational Research and Training. It is gratifying that, in giving shape to the programmes and activities of the Council, the leaders of this Council have made significant contributions with vision and untiring labour. For within a short period of three years, the Council has made major impact and has not hesitated to make stringent demands on the teacher training institutions.

There is, however, an urgent need to give a new orientation to the entire Council. Let us go to the essentials and try to determine the nature of this new orientation.

We have to realise that the role of the teacher is undergoing vast changes. There is today unprecedented explosion of knowledge, and the quest all over the world imposes the need to arrive at synthesis of knowledge and synthesis of culture. Ancient knowledge is being recovered in the context of modern knowledge.

Teacher Education

Teacher Education

Humanities, sciences and technologies are being brought closer to each other. Some kind of specialisation with an overarching generality, which were valid and useful till yesterday are increasingly losing their relevance, and we are proceeding towards the future where a peculiar combination of wide comprehensiveness and effective specialisation will become imperative, and they will have to be fused together.

We speak today of child-centred education, and we are required to attend to the demands of integral development of personality. It is increasingly realised that our present system of education, which is subject-oriented and book-oriented will need to be replaced by a new system that will emphasise not only the development of the powers and faculties of human personality but also an all-comprehensive value-orientation.

The theme of value-orientation is reinforced by the contemporary crisis, the challenges of which can be met only if the ethical and spiritual capacities develop to such an extent that they can control and direct the huge structures that are being built up by means of increasing mechanisation and dehumanisation. The present crisis demands the development of the inner man and organised integration of the internal and the external aspects of personality. The highest educational thought of today has, therefore, spoken of the need to sharpen and transform the faculties and powers of personality leading towards their increasing integration and perfection.

We are also required to meet the demands of building the defences of peace in the minds of men and of developing not only a responsible commitment to the idea and practice of the Family of Man but also to the generation of goodwill, mutuality and harmony in the very fibres of human consciousness.

There are other great pressures on humanity, — pressures of increasing population, increasing exploitation of resources, which are always limited, and increasing degradation of environment. Educational system, and along with it, teachers are required to be the vehicles of the message by which population can be controlled and environment can be protected.

All these and other consideration imply that there has to be a

Teacher Education

Teacher Education

major shift in the objectives, contents and methods of education, and this shift will have a radical effect on the role of the teacher and consequently on the system of teacher education.

In regard to the objectives of education, special emphasis will have to be laid on the development of personality and chiselling of the faculties of the body, life and mind under the increasing guidance of the inmost soul-power. As far as the methods of education are concerned, special emphasis will have to be laid on the methods of observation and psychological understanding of students coupled with appropriate counselling and guidance that would encourage students' enthusiasm to learn, to learn to learn, to learn to do, to learn to be and to learn to become. And as far as contents of education are concerned, special emphasis will have to be laid on self-knowledge that promotes self-control, world-knowledge that promotes harmonious relationship between oneself and the environment and judicious integration of humanities, sciences, technologies and fine arts. The contents of education will also have to be so redesigned that the outdated information is pruned and the best and the highest that have to be grasped and assimilated are brought nearer to the learners. Again, because of the interrelationship between contents and methods, new teaching learning materials will have to be prepared so that they encourage self-study, and acceleration of the process of learning.

These perspectives have three important consequences for teacher education.

Firstly, the system will have to aim at creating new types of teachers who can understand and practise three instruments of teaching properly and adequately: instruction, example and influence. At present, teachers are using the instrumentality of instruction so exclusively that the other two instruments are hardly allowed to play even a minimum role. Even the methods of instruction are rather gross and mechanical. The new teacher will seek to provide learning experience to the learner and aim at intensifying the initial curiosity and developing in the learner a sense of wonder, which is not only a great propeller of learning but also a constant flower and flow of learning. The new teacher will also chisel the capacities of instruction so that the words for communication will

Teacher Education

Teacher Education

bear profound understanding of the subject, clarity of ideas and concreteness of experience.

Secondly, — and this results from the first — the methodologies of teacher education will be so changed in the system of teacher education that teaching through lectures will be subordinated to the methods of self-learning and learning through creative teaching-learning material and activities related to the development of skills.

And thirdly, the system of teacher education will be centred on integral development of the personality of the teachers under training, — and this integral development of personality will be focussed on exploration and practice of the highest values.

In pursuance of these perspectives, three recommendations emerge:

First, the present curriculum of teacher education will have to undergo vast changes. Development of integral personality and exploration of highest values cannot be adequately brought out within the limited scope of the present curriculum. Those who want to become teacher in their life have to be identified at an early stage so that at least over a period of five years they are adequately introduced to the processes of integral development of personality and value-orientation. Similarly, new methodologies of education will impose a longer period of practice, since the teachers will have to be trained in new methods of instruction, new methods of counselling, new methods of creating active environment for students with which they can interact in their processes of learning. A longer period of training is also required if teachers are to have not only specialisation in their subjects of choice but also increasing holism in their understanding of various disciplines of knowledge, art and craft.

Secondly, teachers' education will have to be so designed that every teacher has adequate knowledge of India and the world so that he or she vibrates with enthusiasm to serve the country and the world. This will require special emphasises on the study of Indian culture, its great achievements of the past in various fields and its capacity to rise from the present stage of renaissance to higher heights so as to build up a vast new synthesis of the East

Teacher Education

Teacher Education

and the West which retains, however, the fundamental springs of Indianness.

Thirdly, the examination system in the framework of teacher education will be so changed that every candidate who passes the examination will have proved not only academic abilities but also oral and practical abilities, and must have shown sound physical fitness and adequate value-orientation.

I shall now come to the last question. How shall we move forward from where we are today so as to bring about the required changes in our system of teacher education? There should, of course, be a special organ in the National Council of Teacher Education, which will have specific responsibility to propose innovations that can be effected in the present system of education. But that will be only for a transitional period. Ultimately, NCTE should be so empowered that it can influence universities and colleges of teacher education so powerfully that new curricula come to be designed, new methodologies come to be practised and vast facilities are created so that teachers under training are enabled to acquire the proficiency in utilising latest methods of audio-visual education and in employing other techniques relating to project work, counselling and learning to learn, learning to do and learning to be.

This is is not the occasion to spell out in detail as to how these tasks could be undertaken by NCTE. What is important here is to emphasise the need to think over these tasks so that the perspectives for teachers' education may become more and more mature and may also come to be shared by various partners of education.

Considering what the NCTE has done during the last three years, we can feel confident that the new tasks that emerge from developing perspectives of teachers' education will also be undertaken with the needed sense of responsibility, enthusiasm and dynamism.

Teacher Education

Back to Content