Just few weeks ago there was a debate on the national TV, BBS (Bhutan Broad Casting Service) ‘Is Teaching considered a Noble Profession in Bhutan?’. I followed the debate show and couldn’t help but feel sad for the teaching profession. This profession is by virtue of what it does, very noble. There is no doubt about it but what is amiss here is that though it is a noble profession very less people want to become teachers.
By definition, Noble means ‘showing fine personal qualities or high moral principals or ideas’. It is exactly what should define a teacher, a synonym to teacher. But do we have noble teachers? This question I feel is more important to debate than ‘Is the Teaching Profession considered Noble in Bhutan?’ Like the final vote count at the end of the debate, teaching is considered noble but are the people who become teachers noble? Do we have noble teachers? or Is it enough to have Good teachers?
If one looks into history, one will find that teachers have always been simple people. Teachers are people who are not materialistic, who taught contentment and lived humble lives. However, this quintessential teacher belongs in the past and is not able to fit the modern job seekers mind set. The teacher today stands at the helm of shouldering grave responsibility of making the future of the nation. If you are content with the past image and role of a teacher in the present setting then you are not considering the future of our nation. The teacher in Bhutan today needs more than the acknowledgement that he or she is doing a noble job.
I can happily say that there are many good teachers in my school. I don’t want to use the word noble, but they are good and I feel that is good enough. A good human being should become a teacher. That person may not have the best marks out of school or higher ideals but he or she should be good and be ready for improvement.
I know my Principal, who is an exemplary leader. He models what he believes in, showing his staff that one has to live by example in an institution called school where one is observed by learning eyes.
I know Mr. Pashupati Sharma, who has taught for the last twenty-two years and has helped many students realize their dream of becoming engineers, and architects. I find nobility in his feeble voice, which competes with the swinging fans in the lazy afternoon class.
I know Mr. Rinchen who hardly misses even a single class but is after your periods if you can spare them. His father is in need of people whom he can trust in his family business but Rinchen is happy as a teacher.
Lopen Gembo has only one year before his retirement, having taught for more than three decades, but he still carries out his duties like he first joined service.
Mr. Binod Rai has taught chemistry for the last nineteen years, and even today he has the zest to teach like he did when he first joined teaching. He did not become a teacher by accident; he was designed for this profession.
I walk past a class and hear ‘copper clad mountain’ it is a translation to the Dzongkha word ‘Zangdopelri’, the teacher is Lopen Namgay and you can hear him from the other end of the school building when he is teaching. My Dzongkha teacher never made it convenient for me to understand what such terms and words could mean in English.
Karma Choedup is my friend and like me he became a teacher by accident but he is a good human being and like I said that was all he needed to become better. His conscience is clean because he does his best in the classroom.
Lopen Namgay is loud but not as loud as Mr. Ugyen Namgay. One can hear Ugyen Namgay narrate the Battle of Changlimithang as if he fought the battle himself. He would collect and take the pictures related to his subject as illustrators for his lesson. He rewards the hard workers with free lunches and other treats.
Sonam Phuntsho, (who is currently perusing his masters) would wake up at 6 am on Sundays to give tutorials to his students so that they may do well in economics, a subject least favored in Bhutan.
Like these good teachers, my school has many other hard working teachers, who can and will do better if they receive the right support and motivation. Teaching is a noble profession, there is no doubt, but are our teachers noble? The teachers in my school are good and that is good enough, it should be good enough.