Recog­nis­ing our role mod­els

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Muham­mad Hamid Za­man

LYON Terry is not a house­hold name, he is not nearly as fa­mous as Bill Gates, but he is a star in his own right. Lyon is a fourth-grade teacher and win­ner of this year's Washington state teacher of the year award. Last month, these two pas­sion­ate in­di­vid­u­als, Lyon and Bill, both with a deep sense of com­mit­ment to im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tion, met in Seat­tle to talk about what can be done to im­prove schools, ed­u­ca­tion and teach­ing. De­spite the global stature, it was Lyon who did most of the talk­ing. It was Bill's turn to learn from a master. Lyon Terry is an ex­cep­tional in­di­vid­ual - with a deep sense of pur­pose, com­mit­ment and val­ues that in­spire his fourth grade stu­dents.

He in­stills in his stu­dents re­spect, cre­ativ­ity and above all a life-long de­sire to learn, de­spite fail­ures. But Lyon is also lucky to be recog­nised for what he does with such pas­sion. As we celebrate the new records of achieve­ment with grades be­ing dis­cussed in our house­holds and in our semi-pri­vate online lives, and recog­nise the in­tel­lect and ge­nius of stu­dents amongst us, per­haps we should ask our­selves about those who make it all pos­si­ble.

On the print, elec­tronic and so­cial media, there are of­ten heart-warm­ing sto- ries about the stu­dents who come from bro­ken homes, shanty towns and have to work back-break­ing jobs be­fore and af­ter their school, and it is ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary that we con­tinue to celebrate these in­spir­ing in­di­vid­u­als. But equally im­por­tant is recog­ni­tion of those teach­ers, who re­main un­sung he­roes and con­tinue to find and pol­ish the hid­den gems.

Lap­tops and schol­ar­ships for those who out­per­form ev­ery­one through sheer will, ded­i­ca­tion and a dogged pur­suit of per­fec­tion is wor­thy, but why do those who en­able these stu­dents to suc­ceed never even get a line of ap­pre­ci­a­tion in news­pa­pers? Then, there are sub­tle and even more prob­lem­atic di­men­sions, where the recog­ni­tion, if any, is re­served for those who teach the sciences, but those who teach lan­guages, arts and hu­man­i­ties do not get any share of the ac­knowl­edge­ments. While there are plenty of photo-ops for the bril­liant stu­dents, as there should be, there is never a story about the com­mit­ment, de­spite the unimag­in­able chal­lenges, of our teach­ers. I am sure, in their sto­ries, should we de­cide to tell them, we will find the same de­sire and com­mit­ment to cre­ate a bet­ter Pak­istan as we find in the sto­ries of our most gifted stu­dents.

There are many things wrong with our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, which has a long way to go. And to be ab­so­lutely clear, not ev­ery teacher is, by def­i­ni­tion, a great or even a good teacher. In­deed, many teach­ers and men­tors within our sys­tem fail to stand up to the ba­sic dig­nity of the pro­fes­sion and need to be brought in front of a mag­is­trate than in front of our stu­dents, but there are many who, de­spite the odds, cre­ate the magic of learn­ing in class­rooms with no re­sources.

We can­not for­get that suc­cess in aca­demics is a multi-player sport, and is al­most never with­out men­tor­ship and guid­ance. Ded­i­cated men and women in vil­lages, towns and cities across the coun­try rise in the morn­ing ev­ery day with a com­mit­ment to en­lighten minds, walk long miles and earn lit­tle. They do not get a high-pay­ing salary when their stu­dents suc­ceed, or a schol­ar­ship to go abroad when their pro­teges shine, or get in­vited by the rich and the fa­mous - in­stead they do what they do be­cause they be­lieve that it is the right thing to do. Our in­abil­ity to recog­nise their ef­fort, and in­vest in their suc­cess and de­vel­op­ment only means that we are not hold­ing our end of the bar­gain in do­ing the right thing. And then we ask, how come no­body wants to be­come a teacher?

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