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Question: I am a Maths teacher and I feel like I am forcing the students to learn something that they probably don’t choose to learn. Also, I feel that should I just give away this identity of a teacher because I have a feeling that this doesn’t suit me and I am feeling like I am forcing things like, “You have to learn,” “You have to do more work,” and I don’t feel quite at ease with it. So should I just drop my job?
Acharya Prashant: Is Mathematics something social? Is two plus two is equal to four something psychological?
Listener 1: No.
AP: Or is ten greater than eight, a statement of identification?
L1: No, but the job is social.
AP: If the student, who gets ninety-five percent, is superior to a student who gets eighty-five percent, then it becomes a matter of identification. Ninety-five is greater than eighty, or ten is greater than eight is a pure fact, devoid of any psychological implication, right? It is just a pure fact. But when, a student getting ninety-five percent is superior to a student getting eighty percent, then it is no more a fact. Now, you are suggesting something to a student about his self worth, about his identity, about who he is.
So, it’s a beautiful job; just be cautious that you are not staining the psyche of the child. Maths is wonderful. Maths is about knowing the laws of the material existence. It is the existence expressed in another language. A language that lends itself a little more readily to the logical brain. But, let Mathematics remain Mathematics; let Physics, Economics or Sociology remain that much only; let them not cross their boundary and become linked to our self-worth.
No number should ever be linked to self-worth. You are not quantifiable. You cannot be expressed in quantitative terms.
L2: Educational system demands so.
AP: We all do that. Now that you are a little alert about it, you will not allow it to happen. And when more people like you become sensitive, then the system will have to change, yes?
L3: Does it help in our observation or to be more careful with the way we use our language?
AP: Yes, of course. Very well put. Be very cautious about the words that you use. Words are a source of so much nonsense. And words used indiscreetly only cause damage to the other, even to the one that you wish well. That was one of the things in the song, “Watch your choice of words.” Watch why you are using one particular word compared to the other. Now, words by themselves mean nothing. Empty and hollow. Just pointers. But the choice of words tell something important about the centre from where you are operating. It tells something about the chooser. So, be alert.
Watch the session video: Do not link your students’ self-worth to anything || Acharya Prashant (2016) The transcription has been edited for clarity.
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