The School Teacher in India
Janaki Rajan

School education is widely studied in the socio-political, policy, programmatic, curricular, pedagogic and ideological contexts. Relatively little studied is impact of these on the human agency of the teacher[1] [2] who is at the heart of the educational process. In recent studies, the teachers come into focus as the principle agent who, more often than not, fail in their task of socialisation of children along equitable lines[3]. There does exist a somewhat broad understanding that

“The status of the teacher reflects the socio-cultural ethos of a society; it is said that no people can rise above the level of its teachers. The Government and the community should endeavour to create conditions which will help motivate and inspire teachers on constructive and creative lines... Teacher Education is a continuous process, and its pre-service and in-service components are inseparable”[4]

 This paper is a preliminary attempt to bring to the fore the voice and agency of the 'school teacher' in India from the 18th century indigenous system of education to the present. Who constituted the teachers? What were their own experiences of schooling and socialisation, their own role as teacher in the overall context of their own expectations?[5] What were the socio-political-cultural influences that carved the idea of the teacher?[6] How do these conceptualisations operate and impact teacher preparation, schooling itself, the social fabric, structures and processes?[7]

Some incandescence efforts to challenge prevailing conceptualisation of teachers and their roles[8], have periodically shone, but not often sustained except as nostalgic exemplars.

The paper relies on the records of the British School Inspectors on the indigenous system of education in India[9], the Missionaries[10], the 'Normal' Schools[11] and related analyses of scholars to understand the teacher and the shifts in who a teacher was till early 1920s. This is followed by examining the shift in the conceptualisation of the teacher in the Nai Talim[12] experiment until the 1950s. The account of the changing face and expectations of teachers in the post-independent era ends with the teacher in the context of the Right to Education.[13] [14] [15] [16]

[1] Dharampal, (2000), The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century Volume III, Collected Works. Other India Press: Malpusa, Goa

[2] Batra, P., (2005), Voice and Agency of Teachers. Economic and Political Weekly Vol - XL No. 40, October 01, 2005

[3] Velaskar, P. (March-September 1990). Unequal Schooling As a Factor In The Reproduction of Social Inequality in India. Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 39, No. 1/2 pp. 131-145.

[4] Ministry of Human Resource Development, 1086. National Policy on Education, 1986.

[5] Wilson, P. (1983). Second hand Knowledge. An inquiry into Cognitive Authority. Greenwood Press.

[6] Bhattacharya, S. (2014). Towards a Global History of Education: Alternative Strategies in Connecting Histories in Connecting Histories of Education: Transnational and Cross-Cultural (eds.) Barnita Bagchi, Eckhardt Fuchs, Kate Rousmaniere. Berghahn Books.

[7] Fischer-Tine, (2004). National Education, Pulp fiction and the Contradictions of Colonialism: Perceptions of an Educational Experiment in 20th Century India in H. Fisher-Time and M. Maun (eds.), Colonialism as civilizing Mission, cultural Ideology and British India. London: Anthem, pp. 229-47

[8] Sunderraman, (2008). Savithri Bai Phule. Memorial Lecture. New Delhi: 2008

[9] ibid

[10] Wardle, D., (1976). English Popular Education, 1780-1975. Syndics of CUP, Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press

[11] Basu, S. C.,(1867. History of Education in India under the Rule of the East India Company (1813-1833)

[12] Sykes, Marjorie (1988). The Story of Nai Talim.

[13] Ministry of Human Resource Development, 1995. The Teacher and Society, Chattopadhyaya Committee Report (1983-95), pp.4.

[14] National Council of Educational Research and Training (2005). National Curriculum Framework. Ministry of Human Resource Development: New Delhi

[15] National Council of Teacher Education, 2009. National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education. New Delhi

[16] Government of India. 2010. the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act.