Education Helps to Brighten a Person’s Life and Career - Zeenat Taher

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1. Tell us more about your experience as an educator.

My journey in the path of education as a teacher started at a very crucial juncture of my life when I had just lost my father who was the greatest strength of my life. I was about to appear for my post-graduation examination when my father passed away. 

All my rosy dreams about life and career just swept away in the ocean of tears. I thought of not appearing for my final exams because I was in utter depression. I could only feel a sense of emptiness and a dark path laid ahead of me. But then I remembered my father and his sacrifices which motivated me to appear for my final exams which eventually I passed with flying colors. 

Being the eldest born in my family the financial responsibility of my family soon fell on my shoulders at a very young age. I had no idea what should I do for the sustaining of my family and then I realized I’m educated and that is mine which no-one can take away from me and truly it became my primary support. 

I started appearing for interviews and soon got a job in a very reputed private school, and it is there that I got back the smile on my lips, the happiness which had disappeared after my father’s death. The little kids enlivened my soul, and gradually I started loving my work. 

I learned the teaching methodologies and with my sincerity, dedication, and creative teaching techniques, I became quite popular as the favorite teacher of my students. My superiors and co-teachers appreciated my zeal to learn and the passion for teaching. 

Then was a turning point in my career and that was when I was offered a job in a highly reputed private in University as an Assistant Professor. Since 14 years I have been teaching here English language and literature to students of different academic backgrounds such as law, engineering, business management, and even foreign students. 

I have designed various English language courses at this University, took several leadership roles, and acted as coordinators for different University courses. I have gained vast and diverse teaching experience with the passage of time that has groomed me and enabled me to be an effective Global English Language Teacher.

But, the best experience as an educator was yet to be and that was when I associated with Regional English Language Office (RELO) through the English Access Micro-Scholarship Program and that marked the beginning of a splendid endeavor.

Working with RELO’s English Access Micro-Scholarship Program at the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences in Bhubaneswar in the year 2011 was a special milestone in my career. I was able to teach English Language and academic readiness skills using innovative materials to young adults many of whom were first-generation learners from remote tribal areas in the state of Odisha. 

As the program structure geared towards developing communicative and critical thinking skills, my students gained the confidence to pursue higher education and jobs in multinational companies. Also, my participation in RELO sponsored workshops and online courses strengthened my role as an educator and rekindled my desire to pursue academic programs. 

I believe these experiences helped in me being selected as a sole representative from India by the U.S.Consulate in Hyderabad for the “Study of United States Institute for Scholars” (SUSI), a U.S. Government-sponsored Academic Exchange Program hosted by Seattle University in Washington State. 

SUSI exposed me to US culture, literature, and new approaches to teaching and research. From the insights I gained with RELO and SUSI, I have worked on redesigning English courses I teach at my University, published articles, and led several teacher training programs.

2. What is your opinion of the Indian education system and how would you like to change that?

The Indian education system is grounded with a very strong foundation of our ancient knowledge and wisdom. Our ancient Upanishads remain unparalleled even today. But unfortunately, we have lost the valuable heritage of knowledge and wisdom we had and made education as any other kind of lucrative business. 

According to me Indian education at present needs to revamp and bring back the real ideologies of teaching and learning with a modern look of integrating technology into education. I also believe that the Right to Education should be included as a fundamental rights of our Indian Constitution where every child should be provided with free and compulsory education till 15 years of age irrespective of any background of the learner.

3. What changes in the teaching methodologies have you seen in the recent times?

There has been significant growth in the Indian Education section by the inclusion of scientific quest both in educators and the learners. A distinct change is visible in the teaching methodologies adopted today where one can find how technology plays a major role in implementing the latest teaching techniques. 

We can now find smart classrooms with computers, language labs, LED projectors, mobile phones, and classrooms which are well equipped with all kinds of audio-video facilities and that has changed the entire look of an Indian classroom. Besides, the tools of technology the role of an educator has also altered dynamically, teachers have become facilitators. 

Teachers today provide a conducive non-threatening class environment in which students can discover knowledge and the teacher merely motivates or encourages the students to be able to acquire their learning goals. Indian classrooms have adapted to the learner-centered approach instead of the traditional teacher-centered approach. 

Students are given various opportunities to research and enhance their knowledge. The present education system mainly emphasizes developing the communication skills of a learner fostering the universal principles of equality in order to prepare them for inclusion into the global community. 

4. How does education help one do well in their career?

In today’s society education is the most important aspect in an individual’s life which makes a person learned as well as provides a means to achieve his/her career goals. An educated person can bring about a vast change in the growth of a country. 

As I have already stated earlier with a personal example that when I had nothing in my life except the education which I had received and that paved the way for me to achieve not only my career goals but also gave meaning in my life and has also brought a very positive impact on my personality. So, education helps to brighten a person’s life and career.

5. Do you think teaching as a profession is viewed at par with corporate jobs?

Yes, I believe in the present scenario teaching is at par with corporate jobs based on the work pressure, achieving targets but not as in terms of salary and other employee benefits. Teachers despite their hard work and sincerity are still underpaid and struggle to sustain their livelihood in many cases which is unlike the corporate sector where the employees are paid highly lucrative income packages and even have a fair chance of getting promotions as per their efforts towards the organizations they work with. 

Here, I would also like to point out that teaching as a profession is more of a service to society because it is a 24hrs duty where a teacher has to work beyond the official work hours. I do agree that earlier a teaching used to be a comfortable profession with fewer work hours but today I must admit that teachers have to toil hard and are required to prove their efficiency in each class to sustain their jobs. 

With fewer job opportunities in other sectors, most people fall back upon education to serve as a means of their livelihood and that has increased the competition in the Education field. Teachers are expected to be creative, research-oriented, experts in their areas, and also render value addition to the institutions they work with. 

Whereas, in the corporate sector the only expectation is one should be able to do one’s job efficiently. So, teaching is not a profession but a vocation and mission to inspire the young minds to build an intellectually developed nation.

6. How can we adopt technology to make teaching more effective?

Education today depicts the predominance of the element “Technology”. Living in this era of the 21st century we can see the importance and impact of technology in our day to day lives. If technology is inseparable from our lives then how can education remain aloof from it? Therefore, technology is no more a soft skill it is rather an integral part of our teaching pedagogy which has proved to be an effective aid used in imparting knowledge or information. 

Using technology in classroom teaching is a learner-centered approach that not only acts as a great supporting tool for the teachers but also is a medium that generates interest in a learner to acquire knowledge easily and in a meaningful manner.

Although technology has already been integrated into the course curriculum of schools and colleges yet the COVID 19 pandemic has altered the teaching pedagogy globally. It made the educators and learners adapt themselves to technology overnight. 

Educators across the globe have to adapt technology and gain efficiency in using the same. It has now become mandatory for teachers to expertise in using various online tools into their classroom teaching. Moreover, online learning is more time saving as students can learn at their convenience even from their homes. 

Students can easily participate and interact in classroom discussions but virtually which is more exciting for students. Besides that, there are certain online classroom tools such as Crocodoc, Engrade, CuePrompter, Grammarly, My Project Pages, Slideshare, Survey Builder, Yugma which helps teachers to create courses and enables students in learning meaningful subjects. 

Skype can also be used for online video chatting, conferencing, and online classes. Google Drive, Hangouts, Email, Instant Messaging, Message Board Forums, Social Networking Sites, Streaming Video, Voice Over Internet Protocol promotes communication and collaboration between teachers and students. Hence they are effective in classroom teaching. 

Besides classroom teaching, there are other tools such as Basecamp, Edmodo, Google Drive, Dropbox, LiveText, Tutor plan, Drupal, Merlot, TED-Ed which helps teachers to collaborate with peers, administrators, and students in establishing clear communication and for sharing content in a social platform as a great collaborative tool.

Yet our Indian education system confronts issues, challenges faced by teachers and students in the availability of the facility to use technology in all classes especially in remote villages where both the teachers and students live in economically deprived conditions, where the use of technology is still considered as a luxury. 

Therefore, the financial support of the government and society is necessary to uplift the standard of Indian education. The necessity of using technology is quite essential for learners to avail of global employment opportunities. Therefore, I believe the current situation encourages teachers to adopt technology and integrate it into their teaching pedagogy.

7. Why does India need more educators like you?

India is a developing country in which the kind of education we impart to our learners creates the foundation and future progress of our nation. India has evolved from its traditional teaching pattern has adapted itself to the modern teaching methodology and is emerging as a learning platform with several international students seeking admissions into various educational institutions of India. 

This has led to an increase in demand for more educators. Although many people are joining the teaching fraternity what is required is the quality of education which would be transferred to the learners who are the future generation of our society. 

In my teaching experience, I have always believed in equality and I have imparted knowledge to students of different levels, streams, and economic backgrounds. It has never bothered me if my student is from a distinguished University or rural background. 

According to me, education is meant for everybody and we as teachers should not discriminate against students on any grounds. Therefore, I would like to conclude with a message for the young educators to join this noble profession to impart quality education to the pupils they teach preparing them to be global citizens.

Interview by - Sanjana Jain
Education Helps to Brighten a Person’s Life and Career - Zeenat Taher Education Helps to Brighten a Person’s Life and Career - Zeenat Taher Reviewed by Sanjana Jain on August 02, 2020 Rating: 5

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