The Life of a Nepalese Teacher

By Gopal Prasad Bashyal

A teacher, a facilitator, an individual must choose the right path, which might be the hardest but will lead them to a bright future and opportunities.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverge in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by And that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost “The Roads Not Taken”

Teaching English means sharing ideas, enriching knowledge and skills, and building a better attitude through experiences. Traditionally, teaching means imparting knowledge and information from generation to generation. Of course, transmission or handing over the knowledge is one primary task of education. At the same time, teaching is a profession that leads learners to learn new things for the betterment of humanity. Every curriculum helps learners do their job or any work better and more efficiently than before. Moreover, teaching is the process of helping students to gain knowledge through experience and change behavior through practice. One very rewarding aspect of English teaching is that there is always a research, formal or informal, and innovation in every presentation. One erasure or cleaning of the board is followed by another creation of ideas; or by drawing another image, the teacher draws a new map for a better life.

People are called to teaching because they love children or because they love being with them and watching them growing up and becoming more able, more competent, and more powerful in the world.

Some say that my teaching is nonsense. Others call it lofty but impractical. But to those who have looked inside themselves, this nonsense makes perfect sense. And to those who put it into practice, this loftiness has roots that go deep. – Lao-Tzu, a Chinese poet

Teachers teach because they have a great love for humanity, human society and the world. They transfer knowledge, skill and build positive attitudes and support for a fulfilling life. They enable students to adjust and lead a better life. They think they have contributed to exposing their students’ inner potentiality. They contribute to developing the desired behaviors in the students. They enable students to be competitive, to adjust and survive in present society. They are satisfied. At least they could contribute a little to the society.

Some people mistakenly think that teachers just teach and complete their job responsibility. They have knowledge of English, so they are teaching it. They have continued the tradition of handing over the knowledge from generation to generation through the ages. But for many teachers, teaching is an opportunity to learn and develop their personality, prestige and to some extent property also. It’s true that teaching makes them popular among the students, guardians and gives them increased social contact. They develop as versatile leaders in the society. Teachers not only teach as a compulsion to survive, they also learn from students. Life itself is a study time and school is a reading room even for teachers. It’s an opportunity to collect new experiences. Being a teacher equals perfection, but being a perfect teacher is in itself a challenging job.

The image of a teacher is drawn as a real magician, a hero, who, despite un-supportive institutional environments, is able to make child able not only to survive but also to serve the nation and the world as well. The teachers are the heroes of peace; and tremendous love for children and tenacious desire to make a better world are the only weapons of teachers. The list of traits of successful teachers goes like this: simplicity, dedication, confidence, hard work, obedience, politeness, inspiration, motivation, punctuality, creativity, happiness, skill and tact, energy, cooperation, training, caring and loving. Likewise, a successful teacher is always studious and practices new teaching strategies in the classroom. He or she has good classroom management and mediation skills.

Despite of all grievances, I now feel that teaching is really the noblest profession, the most responsible and vital one. The teacher is truly referred to as the agent of change – locally, regionally, and globally. The needs and aspirations of the people and the society are attained only if there is a good education system and the trained, competent professional teachers can handle the children, helping them to overcome difficulties and to become valuable members of the changing society. The teacher has ‘abiding faith in the improvement of the human race’. Each passionate teacher is in love with a field of knowledge, deeply stirred by issues and ideas that challenge our world, drawn to the dilemmas and potentials of the young people who come into class each day. They break out of the isolation of a classroom, refuse to submit to apathy or cynicism and dispel the fog of passive compliance or active disinterest that surrounds so many students.

Unfortunately, most of the teachers in Nepal seem completely exhausted, grumbling at the poor institutional environment and improper education administration, and suffer from burnout. Some of the teachers attempt to leave teaching to take positions elsewhere. Most institutions don’t have the resources or financial and professional sway, and such less well-resourced institutions can’t motivate their teachers and keep them inspired to work for their organizations. Frankly speaking, we can never achieve the nation’s goal of education, and the human resource needed for the building of the nation will never be developed if we do not improve the human resource and physical infrastructure of schools and colleges.

On the one hand, there is no required number of English teachers. On the other hand, the existing teachers seem less motivated and competent to bring a change in this deteriorating institutional environment.

Hertzberg has mentioned two factors to motivate and keep people inspired to work:      i) Motivators or satisfiers- e.g. the work itself, responsibility, achievement, recognition and growth; ii) Maintenance factors or dis-satisfiers – these factors do not motivate but their absence de-motivates the workers. For example, job security, salary, administration, supervision, interpersonal relationships, working conditions and status. Research shows that respect, salary and self- development are the most important factors to motivate teachers.

Likewise, students chance for promotion and freedom of job choice, are also motivating factors. Teachers are socially conditioned to feel undervalued and hence their desire to be recognized as good job holders. Teachers feel under-appreciated, overwhelmed, isolated and lowly-paid; consequently, they lose energy and vitality. They love others but they really expect respect from others. When they suffer from students’ bad conduct or guardians’ negligence or administrator’s unfair dealings or are criticized without any suitable cause, teachers feel sad and lose their stamina. Likewise the other reasons might be the failure of students, negative attitudes of society towards teachers, negative comments of administrators or guardians, disrespect of students and political interference which humiliate teachers; and consequently are demotivating.

Despite of all these grievances, the teachers stay in teaching. They have certain qualities, so they keep teaching. For example, hope, optimism, faith and students’ success, knowledge of the subject matter and empowering experiences working within an educational system, peer support, intellectual challenges, and variety and opportunities for a risk-taking environment. Researches inspire them to work beyond the call of duty to ensure their students’ success.

A commitment and joy in lifelong learning are necessary in teaching. ‘Working smarter instead of harder’ and doing the same things in a different way will ensure the rate of achievement is high and qualitative. Likewise, teachers need a breaking away from the regular mechanical routine and rest and relaxation should be maintained. Teachers need to understand their own potentials and can resume stamina if they perceive their own life.

There are a lot easier ways of earning a living and property. Teachers stay in teaching to fulfill their desire to be a leading figure of the society. This is a social service and they enjoy facing challenges. Knowledge changes constantly, and being up-to-date with the latest development in the field of knowledge is really exciting. As a profession, there is always possibility of innovative ideas and pleasure in continuous development via learning. 

Being an academic is a prestigious profession. A teacher’s position relies on his/her morality, and hence he/she is respected. It develops self-respect. Teaching develops self-satisfaction. The most powerful motivation that keeps teachers in teaching is students’ respect and belief. 

The Department for Education and Employment, in  the UK views teachers’ professional development as:

i. the acquisition of skills and knowledge through a process of systematic, deliberate and conscious change;

ii. self-directed learning opportunities that occur as by-products of other activities such as mentoring and coaching;

iii. a process of personal growth which must take account of teachers’ desire to preserve and enhance their personal and professional identity;

iv. the integration of individual and organizational development;

v. the nature of professional activity, the growth of professional dispositions, teachers’ beliefs and attitudes, professional accountability, teacher autonomy and empowerment.

Teachers can be active in their development via support mechanism like job induction, training, workshops, journal keeping, and networking with professional organizations like NELTA – The Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association.

To conclude, teaching is a noble profession that can be fostered through self-directed growth and encouraged though the meeting of basic physical needs like salary, resource materials, etc. These have a significant role for true satisfaction in a teaching job.