The master-student bond

Submitted by souravroy on Thu, 02/18/2010 - 11:55

There have been long debates on the problems with the Indian education system. Through some of my earlier posts I too have mentioned my opinion on the issue. All said and done, then why is the change not happening? Why doesn’t the student directly start questioning the teacher? Why is the ice not broken yet?

The answer lies deep in the mindset of we Indians. We are probably the only country where a teacher is referred to as “masterji”. And I don’t think this is merely a coincidence that the principal is the “headmaster”. Master is the antonym of “slave”, as a matter of fact. And looking back to the age old education system of India, the teacher-student relationship is no less than a master and his slave. The teachers of our ancestors were known for the type of punishment they gave, as we hear from them. Going even deeper into history, a student was supposed adhere to all his teacher’s needs- through “seva”.

I’m not questioning the age old customs. Please understand. The teachers were gems, and so were the students of those days. But today, the quality has diminished but the mindset prevails. A teacher in Cal-tech, USA, accepts and responds to his student’s questions, no matter how ridiculous they are. The teacher knows that one of his student may even win a Nobel prize or Fields medal in the years to come. In India, the teacher has a reputation to protect while the student has a mixed feeling of fear and ego, and bechara innovation dies unnoticed. This “master-student” (read “master-slave”) bond has to change to the teacher-student bond. The sooner that happens, the better it is!