Teaching a Noble Profession: Teachers Reminded

Last week, the University of Zululand held its inaugural Life Orientation Teachers Seminar which was meant as an exercise for the University to meaningfully connect and engage with LO teachers who have much influence in the lives of learners, especially where career choices are concerned.

The two-day event was held in the Ugu District (Margate and Umzinto) and was attended by the District’s teachers as well as high profile guests from the District’s education department as well as the municipality.

During the event, teachers were conscientised about academic programmes offered with the University’s four faculties, the application process required for first year study, bursaries and financial aid as well as other important information relating to the wellbeing of students such as disability.

Delivering her keynote address, Mrs Nokuthula Ndaba from UNIZULU’s Student Teaching Practum, reminded teachers that teaching is a noble profession. “But when we say this, we don’t mean that the profession itself is noble,” said Mrs Ndaba. “We are referring to a person who is in the profession. When we talk of a noble profession, we are talking about a person that is honest. As a teacher, honesty is one of the essential ingredients to your character as a person. Teachers also need to be righteous. They need to be upright morally. We’ve got a decay of morals in our society. If our morals as teachers were to be correct, I know that this would in turn transfer to our learners,” said Mrs Ndaba.

Mrs Ndaba expressed both concern and sadness regarding the fact that teaching no longer enjoys the respect it used to in the olden days; however saying that teachers themselves have played a role in the decay of the image of the profession.

“Teachers are no longer honoured in society and it’s because of how we behave in society (as teachers). A teacher has to be a person of virtue; a person of good ethics. You must be an ethical and honourable person. Teachers are a precious component in society. They are second to parents. You will recall that we were told, as teachers, that we act in loco parentis (in the place of a parent). When you stand in front of your learners, you have to understand that you’ve now been given that authority of being a parent and you must deliver and nothing less. We want authority from you and we want you to be able to manage our children,” said Mrs Ndaba, while urging the attending teachers to remember that their profession is the bedrock of all professions. “Without us, there would be no doctors, accountants, etc. We are the custodians of professionalism as teachers. People must learn from us how they should behave in their workplaces,” she said.

Mrs Ndaba also urged teachers to take care of themselves in order to serve their profession well and be good examples to their learners, saying that people are tripartite beings who are made of the body, spirit and mind. “We as teachers tend to neglect the spirit. Spiritually, the teacher is dead. That’s why you find the teacher stealing at the school. You even find some (teachers) in inappropriate romantic relations with their learners. Some of the things that you do, especially in your youth, will catch up to you which is why is so important that as a Life Orientation teacher especially, you must guard yourself because you must practice what you preach,” she said, adding, “As a teacher, you have to be an omnivorous reader. You must read extensively as a teacher. When you teach, learners must be inspired by your knowledge. We have teachers who are shallow when they give lessons; and what makes you to be shallow is your lack of knowledge as a teacher. We have teachers who don’t even read newspapers. You cannot find wisdom where ignorance thrives. At my age, wisdom must ooze out of me,” she said.

-Sinegugu Ndlovu