Education · Mother India · Words of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo

A Teacher’s Work


The last of my series on Education for

How should a society prepare its teachers? We often hear about the sad state of teacher education in India. In answer to the criticism, a teacher eligibility test (TET) was introduced some years ago; the cure, I believe, is worse than the disease. TET as a measure of teacher preparation is based on an extremely narrow and “industrial” view of what education really is and what teachers should do in the classroom.

On 15 August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invoked Sri Aurobindo in his address to the nation whose birthday coincides with India’s Independence Day. Sri Aurobindo said that the first principle of true teaching is that “nothing can be taught”. If nothing can be taught, what is the raison d’etre for the education system? What is being proposed is perfectly sensible. Teachers are meant to be helpers and guides (some have used the term ‘guide on the side’ instead of ‘sage on the stage’) and not instructors or task-masters. Teachers ought to suggest, not impose; guide the learner to acquire knowledge for themselves than to impart it. This principle could be applied at all levels and ages.

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