From the Viewsroom

The importance of teachers

J Srinivasan | Updated on September 06, 2020 Published on September 06, 2020

Google teaches us many things, but it can’t replace our gurus

Yesterday, when I espied my neighbour’s daughter cleaning her desktop, and putting a vermilion mark on it, I wondered why. Saraswati Puja was still some time away. My quizzical look begot the answer: “It’s Teacher’s Day, uncle.”

I did remember that September 5 was Teacher’s Day, but couldn’t connect the obeisance being paid to a computer. The answer is actually quite simple: These are Covid times, and classes are happening online. Ergo, the computer is the surrogate teacher. And, not to forget the Supreme Guru — Google.

Technology has made life easier in many ways for students. In my school days, if you didn’t understand a math theorem or a differential equation (I still have nightmares about them), you hesitated to ask the dour “Master”. Many did not like being disturbed or realised(in my case, at least) the futility of it. But, now, you have the non-judging Google. You can ask it any abstruse theorem or just what’s 2+2, it won’t look down upon you. While Google is supremely useful, it makes you lazy, unlike real-life teachers who, by turning up their nose at you, ensured that you at least made an effort to learn. And, to give them credit, they came prepared to class and could usually clear most doubts. Indeed, friends tell me that even now, as classes have gone online, teachers, also of the earlier generation, are on top, not just in their subjects, but technically, too.

The lack of preparedness, and strict teachers, was brought home to me painfully in the newsroom I joined long before the Google era. You were expected to have a good knowledge of the country’s history, politics and economy, and international developments. The upshot of this was often you looked blank and were left squirming as a ‘teacher’ would comment loudly that he couldn’t imagine what was happening to the recruitment. But, then, you would double up, learn and remember. The last is what Google has stopped; memory is no more a big deal.

I wonder if my neighbour’s daughter remembered on whose birth anniversary Teacher’s Day is observed, or Googled it.

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Published on September 06, 2020
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