This year on Guru Purnima during the Corona pandemic, I engaged myself with the importance of the guru and asked my math teacher about his experiences. I would like to tell you about them because I got some interesting answers. But first, we must clarify one thing:
What exactly is a guru?
A guru is not just someone you normally see almost every day and he teaches you subjects like math and English. A guru is also someone who helps you with your daily challenges and is a role model for you. So, our teachers are not only there to impart knowledge, but also to help us develop and to show us the right way when we have problems. You do not necessarily have to know your Guru in person. It is also possible that you have neither met him personally nor that he knows you personally. But still, you learn from him. In this article, I will talk about the teacher as a guru in this sense. It is the case that many students can no longer see their teacher. Therefore, they must be taught (at least in Germany) about e-schooling.
How did you (or still do) experience the Corona period as a teacher?
My teacher is a deputy headmaster. We all experienced that there was new information every day and that things were chaotic at times. Also, for teachers, there were new regulations every day, which they had to implement. However, Mr. Kaupp did not just complain about this chaos. He said that there are many motivated students and parents at home who are doing a great job.
How does e-schooling affect the lessons? Do you think that the students learn just as efficiently?
Of course, I immediately asked myself whether e-schooling is as effective as regular classes. My teacher said that many of his students in e-schooling learn even more efficiently at their own pace. They are not distracted by their classmates and can watch the learning content several times through different media. Ultimately, it all depends on the discipline of the individual student.
Do you as a teacher have more stress due to e-schooling? Do you need to prepare better or differently?
The teachers have much more stress with e-schooling because now they not only have to prepare the lessons but also have to learn to use the technology and instruct the students about the new system and the new rules as well. With this question, I got a clear yes. As I suspected, my teacher had to learn how to use the new technology by himself, then pass on his new technical know-how to us and finally teach the normal material. My teacher spoke here of a double workload and I am grateful that he took this stress upon himself!
Are you satisfied with the way you can teach during the pandemic?
You are probably asking yourself now, if with so much extra work, you can still be satisfied with your job? My teacher seems to be mostly satisfied, at least with his students. He is proud of them, because despite the circumstances, they continue to learn diligently and do not give up. He also likes it when there is positive feedback from the students and finds it very motivating. After all, teachers are people and who do not like to be praised for their work?! But there is one thing he did criticize. The teachers do not get money from the ministry of education to improve their technical equipment. They must buy their own laptops etc. themselves and if you are not enthusiastic about technology, then you will have poor quality communication with colleagues and students.
Many children have learned new content via YouTube and so on. Can such videos replace the teachers completely or partially?
Technology plays, particularly an important role. In fact, for months I only read emails from my teachers. I felt a bit like Eklavya, who watches his teacher from a distance and learns from him but cannot really reach him. And when we wanted to do a video conference, the technology often did not work. If I had to ask for something, it was sometimes faster with a YouTube video. Then the question arises for me whether such learning videos could not replace the teacher completely. My teacher has shot educational videos for his students and is very enthusiastic about them. In his opinion educational videos cannot replace social contact in school, but they are great for self-study and this has been around since the invention of writing. For the future, my teacher would like to be able to supplement classroom instruction with self-made videos.
Do you think that the teacher is an even more important person in the pandemic than before?
With all the things that teachers are doing for their students now, I thought that during the Corona period they are more important persons now than before the pandemic. Surprisingly, my teacher saw it quite differently. He thought that the parents of the children play a very significant role and believes that the parents got to know their children in a completely new way and many children in turn perceive their parents from a completely new perspective. Parents are in much greater demand as caregivers in this situation. While our teachers are our gurus anyway because of their profession, our parents must take on the role of the guru at this moment. While we can get our knowledge through books, YouTube videos and other media without the physical presence of a teacher, it is our parents who have to replace our social contacts and our friends during this time and are therefore our most important caregivers.
I would like to thank all my gurus and especially my math guru Mr. Kaupp for his openness in answering my questions. It was also great to get support from my mother.
Author: Nishant Bhalla (13 years), Freudenstadt in Baden-Wuerttemberg
Translation credits: Divyaranjan Mohanta
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