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Let Us All Blame The Teacher

Krishna Kumar

Blaming the teacher is so convenient, I wonder why people who are adept in the blame game look for any other reason for the state of education in our country. Even as I begin to write this piece, I am acutely aware of the inevitable absence of teachers and teacher educators among my implied readers. Maybe a handful—literally — of teachers serving in highly select public schools might find access to this issue of The Book Review, but there is hardly any chance that a rural teacher would be among my readers. The likelihood of an urban teacher serving a government school or even a Kendriya Vidyalaya is also quite low. Let us face the fact that school teachers are not considered an intellectual workforce in our country. We don’t expect the school teachers to engage with matters of policy and theory. The image of the school teacher we carry is of someone who keeps children under control and teaches the prescribed textbook. I am not surprised that the Chattopadhyaya Commission report has been virtually erased from public memory, unlike the Kothari Commission which wrote its report two decades before the former but continues to be remembered and referred to. One reason why the Chattopadhyaya report has been forgotten could well be that its stress on treating school teaching as a professional responsibility finds no resonance in our social and policy ethos. ‘Anyone can teach children’ is a commonly held opinion as well as policy, reflected in the status of teachers and in the conditions under which they do their daily work. There is no point wasting space on the crippling circumstances in which rural teachers fulfill their daily duties. Consider the relatively better off public school teacher of an urban metropolis. The grind of daily life involves teaching six to seven periods a day on six days a week. Where is the time or energy to read a book or The Book Review?   Let us now look at teacher educators, and why they too are unlikely to be among my readers. Teacher training institutions constitute a world quite afar from the world of magazines like this one, books which arouse thought and films which move. Why that should be so, and what are its implications for the teachers trained at these institutions are the two questions I will attempt to answer in this article. Let me first share ...

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