The community of teachers in fact represents the great Guru tradition, which was considered as the backbone of society at least in the East –India in particular. So many distinctive examples of that tradition are still given. It is obvious. The role and contribution of the Guru tradition remained vital in fall or rise, misfortune or fortune or poverty-prosperity of individuals and society. It remains so even today –the community of teachers plays the vital role in the making of life of individuals and society. Further, the importance of contribution of the Guru –a teacher can be well observed from the following Shloka, in which he seems representing the triumvirate –Brahma [the Creator], Vishnu [the Protector or Sustainer] and Shiva [the Annihilator]; the Guru emerges as the Supreme Authority –God, Ishwara or Paramatma, that is formless:
“Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devo Maheshwarah
Gurur Saakshaat Para-Brahman, Tasmai Shri Guruve Namah”
Meaning thereby: “The Guru is Brahma [the god of Creation], the Guru is Vishnu [the god of Protection or Sustenance], the Guru is Shiva [the god of Annihilation]; my salutation to such a Guru, who is verily the Supreme God [Niraakara].”
Furthermore, glorifying the height and value of a Guru he has been declared a guide to lead to the supreme knowledge –the pathway to God:
“Akhanda Mandalaakaaram, Vyaaptam Yenam Charaacharam
Tatpadam Darshitam Yena, Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha”
It means: “A Guru can guide us to the supreme knowledge of that, which pervades all the living and non-living beings in the entire Universe –Brahman. I salute such a Guru.”
After quoting these two Shlokas, nothing more is required to mention about the importance, place, stature and role of the Guru –a teacher. Moreover, examples of so many Rishis –the great gurus like Tirthankara Mahavira, Shakyamuni Gautama –the Light of Asia and Adi Shankaracharaya –the Jagatguru in particular, who liked the word Acharya or teacher for them, are well before us.
Now, the subject of discussion in hand is the Professional Development of Teachers. A teacher, as mentioned already, represents the Guru and if his personality is developed as professional, it may seem for a while astonishing and incongruous. It is because the word professional is generally used for one who is paid to undertake a special task to complete. The term professional in simple words elucidates the work for salary, it does not matter what particular category of professional is there. First, doctors –physicians and surgeons both, engineers, legal representatives –lawyers and advocates, architects, army-men and police-men were included in the list of professionals. Later, accountants, nurses of hospitals, planners, people in the field of science and technology, artists, players, social workers and even educators got them enlisted as professionals –teachers who represent the great Guru tradition in particular. Now, the community of teachers also seems categorically appearing within the scope of the word professional.
But, as this development is the outcome of continuously changing situations; or in other words, it is the upshot of inevitable process of change, it should not surprise anyone, and at least to me it is well observable.
Further, the word professional is used more or less to explicate determination, promptness, proficiency and sincerity of one. It reflects skill of one in some particular work. It signifies empowerment. Therefore, it emphatically entertains high hopes for accomplishing the task with a sense of duty and responsibility. A professional by applying his mind –intellect and with his soul force accomplishes the task in a planned manner. Due to this, many professionals emerge as trust-worthy and they are considered the best cooperatively. Therefore, if the word professional is connected to the community of teachers, and it further becomes the basis of teachers’ development, it categorically creates a nice situation. Moreover, it can pave the way for a pleasant and welfaristic state.
Hence, the subject professional development of teachers becomes significant on the one hand and on the other the worth and importance of discussion on a subject like this multiplies many folds. How should the community of teachers in current perspective –as per the demand of time and space apply its intellect with sincerity and firm-determination for the welfare of one and all, the discussion should suggest something concrete in this regard. Not only this, many adaptable and exemplary points must come out from the open and broad discussion as guidelines –for younger in particular. Hopefully, this discussion will not only get success, but will prove to be a milestone simultaneously. While wishing for a grand success of the event, I venture to lay stress on one special thing.
When we enter in an open and wide discussion on different aspects related to the main theme in hand and that too with the sole purpose of the welfare of one and all, keep morality always as the nuclei. Morality is, in fact, essential and inevitable for the proper conduction of the system –from individual life to the universal as it plays the foremost role in performing duties and responsibilities at all levels and in all walks of life. It is also morality that safeguards those values, which ascertain the identity of a human being. Furthermore, morality leads the humanity to righteous acts. Without morality no one can perform her or his duties in real sense, no one can take the righteous path –to follow high human values in particular. All deeds in the absence of morality remain unfair, unjust and unwelfaristic and thus they lead to the fall of humanity. Hence, the importance of morality in life cannot slightly be undervalued. Rather, the significance of morality in the field of education, in a state when the community of teachers is considered as the mirror of society in particular, becomes evident in itself.
Note: This piece is the essence of a keynote address by Dr. Ravindra Kumar at an international seminar organized by the Learning Community at Lucknow [U. P.], India.