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Teachers’ Day through the generations!

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

As we pay an ode today to the hardworking teachers in our lives who have taught us lessons both, inside and outside the classroom, Tanishka Sodhi talks to teachers across generations about what this day means to them, the way it has been celebrated through the years, and what teaching has given them.

They are the ones that mould us, hold our hands through our formative years, and leave behind imprints of their lessons that stay with us all our lives. But what is Teachers' Day for teachers? For students, it is the chance to show their gratefulness through love, kind words, and roses. Much like every other aspect of our lives, the significance of this day has also seen a gradual change over the years. We talk to teachers across generations to see what this day holds for them.

Nandini Sardesai is a name you can't help but know if you are a student in any of South Bombay's mass media colleges. Earlier a school teacher, Sardesai taught in Xaviers for decades and now is a visiting faculty in colleges. Talking about Teachers' Day, Sardesai says, “It is celebrated with much more enthusiasm in schools than colleges. Teacher's Day has unfortunately become a superficial occasion now; college students are apathetic towards it. Even today, on occasions like Teachers' Day and gurupurnima, it is my old students who remember me, not the students I currently teach.” When asked what teaching has given her, Sardesai says without a moment of hesitation, “Teaching has given me an immense sense of satisfaction, which is why I continue to do it even today.”

Teaching at Maneckji Cooper since 17 years, Geetika Wadhwa is popular among her students for her mischievous nature and loving persona. “Teachers' Day is always a fun occasion but I have seen a lot of changes in the way students treat their teachers- not just on this day, but over the years. Today, students don't hold the love and respect for their teachers like they used to. Perhaps it is the generation, but there has definitely been a visible shift, students were not this way earlier. None the less, we celebrate this day in school annually, although now it is more of students dressed in sarees clicking selfies.” Pushed into the profession by her father, Wadhwa tells us how grateful she is to be a teacher. “More than anything, teaching has taught me patience.”

Vinita Mathew, a teacher of English at Wilson College, has been in the profession since the past 20 years. An epitome of grace, she is looked up to by her colleagues as well as students. “I may sound cynical but Teachers' Day today feels like just tokenism. If you are going to have a day to celebrate teachers, you should also respect them and give them what they deserve. On this day, I feel valued when students whose lives I have personally affected reach out to me with a handmade card or a rose. I feel grateful and encouraged to do my job.” When asked what two decades of teaching has done for her, she says, “Everything that I am today is because of my career. There's no rule book that tells you what to do, you have to put your own personality in the job as well.”

Vallari Shah, a 29 year old teacher, is loved by all the mass media students she used to teach until a few months back. “ Teachers' Day is the one day you realize how much of a difference you can actually make to a student. Not every professional gets a day they are thanked for their work, but we teachers have this day we are showered with love and appreciation.” Vallari acknowledges the difference in teachers across different generations. “I think younger teachers are more willing to learn, even from their students. Teaching has made me humble, made me realize how much more there is for me to know, and learn.”

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