by Royal Raj. S, Assistant Professor of Law, Tamil Nadu National Law University, India
“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost,
When health is lost, something is lost,
When character is lost, everything is lost”
Human life has so many dimensions that it cannot be reduced to a few techniques and methodologies, which in turn govern our behavior. Life as a (legal) academic is no exception to this general rule.
It's time to realize that there is more to it than, “Ten keys to effective teaching”, “Five reasons to stay committed to the profession” etc. Strategies are good but they are not a substitute for a transparent life.
Don’t get me wrong, I'm not advocating a self-righteous life-style for (law) teachers. My objective is to encourage and enable the academic fraternity, to model their lives based on integrity.
It is not about appeasing others to gain reputation, which isn't hard to fake! The need of the hour is integrity and it is all about our deeds in private, away from the public gaze. As someone aptly remarked, “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”
A teacher is kept on a higher pedestal not only by the prospective attorneys/ judicial officers/ legislators etc., but by the entire society in toto. When ascribed the status of nobility, it would be sacrilegious to desecrate the office to which a teacher is called.
Such a situation arises when one begins to demarcate his public and private life and this dichotomous lifestyle is the root of all evil. A teacher should be a walking epistle, readable by all, especially the students, lest they find their gurus to be hypocritical, not practicing what they preach!
In a typical classroom setting, even in the virtual space, teachers ought to be second parents guiding, molding and shaping the young minds thereby facilitating them to follow the right path. Interestingly, teaching law as a subject demands even more caution.
Academic standards and pedagogy are obviously needed, but one’s own integrity is also important. Without the latter, the former has little or no significance altogether. After all, what are we left with, when our own personal lives lie in shambles? When role-models falter, the students are left like a sheep without a shepherd.
Being a teacher of law is a royal call, entrusted to the privileged few. Hence comes the need to revisit our (legal) professionalism. A prince is expected to know his dignified pedigree, which in turn governs all spheres of his life.
On the same lines, the legal fraternity, notably the teachers of law are also called to delve deep into their legal lineage. Only when the tutors are aware of their rich heritage it can be passed on successively to the budding legal minds.
Where to begin?
It all starts with the pedagogue who is committed to his/her lineage with integrity. Yes, there is a world beyond pedagogy!
“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” - G. K. Chesterton
I don’t pretend to be that ‘perfect teacher,’ but I do struggle as a soldier to fight the good fight, to make me worthy of my calling!