Teacher, tiːtʃə/

:  one that teaches; especially :  one whose occupation is to instruct

Every year on 5th of September, India celebrates its Teachers’ day. It is a day devoted to show our gratitude to the teachers for their role in educating the future of the country and hence becoming the architects of our future. I have had so many influential teachers in my life that if I start naming them, it would never be enough. The definition of teacher says that it is one who teaches. It doesn’t limit a teacher to a person. Teacher can come in many shapes and forms. The major three divisions I could think of were those of people, things and time. There are always too many teachers to be thankful so it is in some ways the first step to acknowledge the presence of all the teachers in our life which may, at times, include our own past selves as well. For the sake of being organized, I am going to write about all these 3 teachers of our lives in separate paragraphs to make a clear distinction.

Person: These are the most general and well known types of teachers. The teachers we meet ever since the day we are enrolled into a school. The teachers we respected and feared in our middle schools. The teachers who gave us opportunities to be proud of ourselves when we were called ‘the worst batch ever’ or compared to a fish market or asked for a pin drop silence in high school. All the way to the teachers in our colleges who make us realize that knowledge is never really static. Everyday new data is being studied and the archaic conventions are being questioned. In colleges, our teachers display the volatile nature of our subjects, always changing, always moving from one extreme of the pendulum to the other and always increasing. When it comes to professional teachers, something that has always bugged me is that the incentives that our teachers have to teach us are not really that great. . Much like the professions of medicine and national security, a question which emerges quite often is that should they really be given so much respect when they are already taking our money to give us the facilities we have paid our taxes for. Obviously money is an incentive and teaching is considered a relaxed profession but if a teacher was really doing it just for the money or the relaxed lifestyle, they wouldn’t really be putting in all the efforts that they do. There would be no reason for college teachers to prepare lectures, power point presentations and other stuff. They could just so easily give us the links to look up on the net, mark our attendance and then let us free but they don’t really do that. The fact that teachers teach in junior school, in government sector (in those shabby facilities) proves that teachers somewhere within them have a real emotion of service and our well being. Our parents, our friends, our failed relationships, all of these carry within themselves a lesson to be learned. They all have room for making mistakes and the possibility to learn from them. It is always good to shoot for perfection but it is also pragmatic to learn from our inevitable mistakes and failures. Teachers as people are what guide us to become better version of ourselves. Impressive teachers maybe rare but they don’t just teach us, they also make us see the best parts of ourselves.

Things: Nature, animals, plants, bacteria, viruses. All of these are so varied and have evolved themselves so amazingly that when you dive deep into the depths of the non human world, you are really left dumbfounded at the astounding diversity, variations, adaptations and other mechanisms that have evolved over millions of years to ensure that their survival is assured. Apart from nature, the things that humans have created also serve as great teachers, movies, songs, books, plays and so much more. Art in itself is a teacher from whom you can only learn if you are willing to. People learn so many of their life, moral, spiritual lessons from books and movies. I, myself, have learned so much and been so inspired by Zack Snyder’s work for DC that it would be naïve not to include movies or other art forms in the list of teachers. I have always been open about how much Man of Steel helped me and how I learned about the many facets of human (and my own) personality and psychology from Batman vs. Superman. Every person has one point of inspiration in their life, Harry Potter novels, comic books, holy books, paintings, music; we find refuge for our own selves in these things and these things help us have a better understanding of historic and current events and what is teaching if not helping people have a deeper understanding of how the world works.

Time: This is a bit philosophical but something that I feel I must include. The greatest and most effective teacher that we will ever have is time, which in some ways is a metaphor for our own selves. We are our greatest teachers. We are the only ones who know everything about what we have done in our past and the consequences that it had. Time is always moving and things are always changing. Every action that we perform has consequences and it is imperative that every person learn from them. Time tells us when an action of ours had negative effects and which one had positive ones. It is quite often that we hear, “Time will tell” when we have done something whose effects may not be clear immediately. (Demonetization?)

Unfortunately it is very uncommon for people to learn from their past. People most of the time live in denial about their mistakes and try to ignore them away but that is not beneficial to anyone. If a person is observing his/her own actions at every moment, analyzing them and the consequences they may have had, that person is the one who will end up knowing himself/herself the best. I wrote in detail about this in my other article which you can read here.

These were the many forms of teacher’s that a person would encounter in his/ her life. I might be repeating myself but I must stress the point that there are so many teachers everywhere around us, carrying within them a lesson that we didn’t even know we needed to learn. Always be open to learning something new, from anyone, anything and anytime. You never know when you may find the motto of your life.