Respect for your Teachers – Comparing India and the West – 12 Mar 08


Today I had a radio interview. But not how it normally is but for an internet radio. They called from America and I talked for about an hour with them. They recorded it all and will broadcast it soon. Maybe we will be able to put it on our website then, too.

As I was talking about differences between India and the west yesterday, something else came into my mind today which caught my attention. I was talking about respect in the last days, too, and there is a huge difference between the respect for teachers that is shown here in India and that is shown in the west. When I am travelling in the west I can see that actually there is very often not much respect for the teacher at all. The idea there is that you pay for the teacher so he has to be there and do his job. You pay for a course of 20 hours and that he has to fulfill, that is all. The respect is not really there but it is also the teacher's attitude that contributes to this. If the teacher thinks, "okay, I got 15 students who will pay me for the next course, that is it" then he will not put his love and effort into bringing knowledge to his students.

I know a lot of teachers there, too, who don't want to be teacher anymore because they do not have the feeling that they are respected for what they want to pass on. And I heard from a lot of young people who only become teacher because they do not know what else to do. That is also not right. There has to be the wish to teach, to help passing on knowledge. And then teachers are more respected. Here in India, if I see one of my teachers now on the street, I will go and greet him with respect. You know in earlier times this was a very divine relation between the teacher and the students. And still now you can see each morning in Ashram, after Sanskrit class every student greets the Sanskrit teacher respectfully and they feel honoured that they can learn from him.

8 Replies to “Respect for your Teachers – Comparing India and the West – 12 Mar 08”

  1. I became a teacher because I didn’t know what else to do. In the end it worked well because I learned to love the students and what I was doing but it took twelve years of hating my students and myself for a switch to happen. It wasn’t until I saw someone who really loved teaching that “my eyes were opened.” I think back now with some regret about all the students I taught without love, I wonder how some of them are now.

  2. Richard: I am still in high-school, and I can tell you for sure that it’s obvious when a teacher cares and when they don’t. It is obvious that people in general don’t care about others. how can there be respect when no one cares for anyone or themselves?There is a lot of healing needed in the world.

  3. I love my teachers- from a distance! i would never think of disrespecting them or interfering in their lives by trying to start conversations- we just have completely different roles.

  4. It seems like the West lacks respect and trust, I think it is easy to compare Indian ways to the West and find some things lacking in the West but there has to be something the West is good at, right? And I’m thinking about it and trying to figure it out. One of the things I personally love about the West is the freedom to be different, to want and go get different things, of course the flipside of that coin is that can leave a deficit and keep people always wanting more and being unsatisfied, but also when handled correctly it gives freedom to be almost anything, to like almost anything, to love almost anyone. Maybe these things aren’t important in the grand scheme of things, I’m just not sure yet. But they are important to me.

  5. Teachers surely deserve the utmost respect, and the fact that they are severely underpaid in the U.S. is another story. But I feel that the respect a teacher receives depends upon his/her care and respect for the students. When the students feel how much the teacher cares about the knowledge they are giving, the students care about learning it. When the students feel like the teacher is careless about the subject and is forced to be there, the student’s won’t respect the delivery of information. Teachers should desire their profession! It is a beautiful opportunity to change lives, and they should respect their own careers and personal purpose. It is a give and take balance between the teacher and students that creates the atmosphere of respect in the class. This is what I’ve experienced as a U.S. student.

  6. In some Western schools I truly wouldn’t like to be a teacher. Many kids are insolent, noisy and disrespectful. They don’t pay attention to what the teacher says and they get up to nonsense. I think we should send those kids for a while to India to learn how to honour their teacher 😉