India Places Teachers on a Higher Pedestal Than Those in US

“Those who can’t do, teach” vs. “We praise teachers more than Gods.”

That first half is a well-known saying among Americans. The latter phrase comes from Ishita Batra, XI-D, Delhi Public School, R K Puram. Respect for teachers in India well surpasses how teachers are viewed in the U.S. While it is understood that teachers mold minds, teachers sit upon a profound pedestal in India.

With an identical view, “A good teacher is like a candle — it consumes itself to light the way for others,” according to Prashant Singh, X- A, St. Mary’s School, Safdarjung Enclave.

This idea is universal, but with an emphasis on improving grades in America in order to compete with schools overseas, comes a pressure on teachers that takes away from the student-teacher relationship.

In India, teachers are revered and, as a saying goes, "A good teacher is like a candle — it consumes itself to light the way for others." | wil_jojo_lis/

“There is a national movement, spreading from state to state, to rid teachers of their tenure, which is another way of referring to job security,” said Lisa Suter, English and writing professor at the University of Tampa. “Their incomes have never been all that great when compared to their counterparts in the private sector, but teachers have always enjoyed something that workers in other fields have not: this almost untouchable job safety. Their collective bargaining rights (the right to belong to unions and strike for better benefits, pay raises, etc.) is also being challenged and in many cases, overturned.”

While this profession may not be most students’ first job choice because of the graduate schooling involved on top of the promise of low pay, there are still those pupils who cannot wait to leave their mark on their future students.

“I want to shape students and enhance the positive factors in their lives,” said Kelly Zino, an education major at UT. “I want students to be excited about going to school instead of seeing it as a mandatory obligation. I want them to be fully prepared for the future and have the confidence, ambition and support to achieve higher education.”

Suter said teaching is, “more out of devotion than out of the pittance of money teachers receive. There is no security or room for career growth. They [teachers] do it because they love it.”

Charles M. Blow, New York Times writer, recently published a piece about a teacher of his who put her arm around him while grading a test. Up until then, he had been placed in the “slow” class, but it was proven that a little encouragement and loving touch pushed him to have the highest IQ in his class and graduate as the valedictorian.

Alexandra Poirier, education major at UT, has known that she’s wanted to be a teacher since she was seven. Poirier says she is becoming a teacher because, “I love to watch how children’s eyes light up when they learn something new for the first time.” Her students’ grades will be as important as the state makes them, but she hopes ultimately to “make every student feel smart in their own way.”

Freshmen are required to take a Gateways class, an orientation course that meets once a week for 50 minutes. As a Gateways professor, Chris Gurrie, who is also a speech instructor, feels that through this class, students build a relationship with him that ultimately connects them to the university. “Students must feel valued,” Gurrie said. “I want students to trust me and know that I am fair.”

Students look for help all the time, Gurrie said. However, with the idea of rapport comes a two-way street of communication.When a student and teacher have a basic knowledge of each other, a door opens that allows them to connect and helps the instructor do his or her job better.

In March and April, students get a survey in the form of an email to talk about their classes. They are asked about the grading, the style of the teachers, the standards they were held to for that time being and the clarity of how to succeed in the class.

Whether you are overseas or in the states, teaching is ultimately aimed at giving students an understanding of a concept to find meaning instead of focusing solely on grades. If a student does not take away a life lesson from each class, then what was the point of learning information from a book?

Teaching is certainly a tough profession to finance through graduate school after the regular four-year college, but someone has to do it!

“With all the political garbage going on that is affecting teachers,” Gurrie said, “I am hopeful that the profession will once again retain the prestige and importance (K-12) that it once had. I hope when society realizes that if there are no teachers then we’ll all be a bunch of idiots — the vibe for teaching will be supported.”

To the future teachers of America, I ask that you value each student that walks in your classroom because any one pupil could one day go on to do great things and will have that one specific teacher to thank for his or her inspiration.

American teachers are frustrated by lack of job security and poor pay. Recent educational ranking place the United States lower than many are comfortable with. | wil_jojo_lis/


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