Saturday, June 4, 2011

The ideal teacher

Here's a bit I came across recently in a very old issue of the, now defunct, Science Age magazine (Sept 1985) that was published by the Nehru Centre, Bombay. I thought its worth sharing for its sheer beauty and the fact that these ideas havenot changed still!

The Jain author Pavanandi served at the court of the Chola emperor Kulottunga III (1178 - 1216 AD ?). He is known for his work on Tamil grammar.

He also defined the characteristics of an ideal teacher: "The teacher must be a man of good birth, gentle and godly by nature and of a generous outlook. He must be deeply learned in book-lore and capable of expounding his knowledge with directness and simplicity". He must also combine common sense with these high qualities. The teacher must unite in himself the characteristic features of the earth. The earth signifies four qualities; first, extent or vastness of size, so great that you could not take it all in at a glance from any one point; secondly, strength not to yield under the stress of great weight; thirdly, patience even towards those who dig into and otherwise cause hurt and damage; and lastly, capacity to yield fruits commensurate to the timeliness and intensity of effort on the part of the cultivator.

Pavanandi also states that the teacher should also be like a mountain, the weighing rod and the flower. The mountain impresses us by its great size and the variety of its products, is visible from a great distance, and sustains life even during a drought; so too the good teacher is marked by wide range of his studies, his fame spreads far and wide, and gives freely of the abundance of his knowledge even if there is no money in his profession. As the weighing rod weighs accurately and impartially, so too does the good teacher the merits and desserts of his pupils. The good teacher, like the flower, is sought after on all happy occassions, carries about him a fine flavour that endears him to all and presents a joyful countenance.
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