Read this article to learn about the qualities, qualifications and characteristics for a successful history teacher!
The success or failure of a course in history rests mainly with the teacher. The most important factor in entire educational programme is the teacher.
It is the teacher on whom the real success or failure of any method, aid, device or procedure depends. It is he who can evaluate how far the aims and objectives of teaching have been achieved.
The history teacher not only deals with the successes and failures of the man in the past but also of the current and recurrent events and happenings of the world of today and so he is of special importance.
Lord R. Bryce has rightly observed, “The teacher of history must have the power of realising the date passed in a living present and have a touch of imagination as well as vastly large amount of positive knowledge, then he will attempt to pile upon the memory of his class”.
In this regard the Kothari Commission report (1966) says, “Of all the different factors which influence the quality of education and its contribution to national development, the quality, competence and character of teachers are undoubtedly the most significant”.
The role of teacher has been emphasized by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan in the following words, “The teacher’s place in society is of vital importance. He acts as the pivot for transmission of intellectual traditions and technical skill from generation to generation, and helps to keep the lamp of civilization burning.
He not only guides the individual, but also, so to say, the destiny of nation Teachers have, therefore, to realise their special responsibility to the society. On the other hand, it is incumbent on the society to pay due regard to the teaching profession and to ensure that the teacher is kept above want and given the status which will command respect from his students”.
In order to achieve all the objects, the teacher of history must have some qualities and specific qualifications.
Qualities and qualifications of a history teacher:
A history teacher is expected to possess certain academic qualifications as also certain professional qualifications.
As regards the academic qualifications it is usually a pass in matriculation/senior secondary examination for becoming a history teacher in a primary school. A pass in B.A. examination for being a teacher in history in middle or high school and a pass in M.A. examination for being a teacher in a senior secondary school
In addition to the above academic qualifications, anyone who wishes to be appointed as a history teacher has to undergo a teachers training course (i.e., either G.B.T. or B.T/B.Ed.). This professional training is all the more important these days when new techniques of teaching, evaluation etc., are being introduced.
Trained teachers also require the stimulus of a refresher course to keep them informed about the latest methods of teaching and to refresh his knowledge of history. All this is quite essential because a good teacher must always keep him self-informed of the latest development in the field. This aspect of teacher has been brought out in the following words by Dr.Rabinder Nath Tagore, “A teacher can never truly teach unless he is still learning himself. A lamp cannot light another lamp unless it continues to burn its own flame”.
Characteristics of an ideal history teacher:
A successful history teacher must have the following qualities:
1. Thorough Knowledge of the Subject:
Like the teacher of any other subject a history teacher should have a thorough knowledge of the subject. For such knowledge the teacher should read various reference books in addition to the prescribed text-books. Such a study will help the teacher to grasp the spirit of the subject and study it in a proper perspective.
The continuity in study is also essential to keep the knowledge of the subject upto date. It is not essential that a secondary school teacher be a specialist of his subject but it is essential that he should be able to present the facts of history in a psychological manner. For such a presentation teacher should be aware of the fact that social sciences are a developing subject.
2. Knowledge of Child Psychology:
For being a successful teacher in any subject knowledge of child psychology is essential and so is the case with history teacher. The psychological requirements of child differ from age to age and a teacher must have a thorough knowledge of child psychology if he wishes to impart the knowledge of the subject in a proper manner. Thus the knowledge • of child psychology and its proper use can contribute a lot in teaching of history.
3. Faith in Subject:
Unless a teacher has faith in his subject, he will not be able to acquire thorough knowledge of it. This faith also encourages the teacher to learn more and more. This faith also enables the teacher to realise the utility and the value of teaching history.
4. Knowledge of Different Methods of Teaching:
The knowledge of various methods of teaching is essential because it is only then possible to choose a suitable method according to the requirements of a particular class, e.g., a student at the age of 14 is fond of excursions and travels and a good teacher knowing it can co-ordinate the two in his teaching method to make the teaching successful.
5. Knowledge of Regional and Provincial History:
In addition to thorough knowledge of history of our country, a good history teacher must have a good knowledge of regional and provincial history. While teaching history he should give examples from this history.
6. Knowledge of Current Events:
Such knowledge helps the teacher in making a comparative study of the events of various periods, in the history of different countries of the world.
7. Knowledge of Aims and Objectives of Teaching of History:
The history teacher should have clear knowledge of the aims and objectives of the teaching of history. The teacher must also have a faith in these aims and objectives. With such a faith, he becomes interested in the subject and tries to impart knowledge in a scientific and interesting manner to suit the students and society body.
A history teacher should never feel satisfied by reading what others say but should be in a position to form his own independent judgement of men and affairs. He must not have a blind faith; rather he should make it a habit to inquire to find the truth. If he possesses such qualities he can face any class-room situation that may arise unexceptionally under various circumstances.
9. Sympathetic, Creative Imagination and Ability to Act:
The history teacher should have a sympathetic out-look. It is essential for presenting the historical facts in an impartial and scientific manner without sympathy, it is impossible for the teacher to understand the perspective of the developments of history.
He should also be endowed with ‘Creative Imagination’. Creative imagination enables the teacher of history to present the facts and the events in a lively manner to his students. This helps him to have the proper understanding of the facts and enables him to present them in a lively and interesting manner.
Unless the teacher of history has some touch of acting in him, he cannot bring to life the past, in the classroom. The teacher has to modulate his voice and present things in such a way that the events may look like real.
10. Broad Outlook and Strong Memory:
The teacher of history must have a broad out-look and strong memory, so that he is able to have proper knowledge and assessment of the events and facts of the past. Sharp memory enables him to remember the details. All these things will make the teaching of history interesting and successful. Prof. K.D. Ghosh observed, “Teacher of history is likely to be guided by his personal likes and dislikes”.
“History teacher colours teaching of history, his interpretation of incidents and personality with his own likes or dislikes born of the religious denominations to which he belongs.”
Actually, the teacher of history should try to rise above the situation. If he colours his teaching with his likes and dislikes and with the views of his religion, the teaching of history will lose its value in a Secular state. The trend of society and the requirements of the members should also be kept in mind.
11. Impressive and Interesting Personality:
The teacher of history should have an impressive and interesting personality. If he lacks these then he shall not be able to present the facts in an effective manner. The teacher of history quite often has to play the role of an actor. A person without an impressive and interesting personality shall make himself only a laughing stock if he takes to acting. This element of personality should also be accompanied by certain other traits. According to Prof. K.D. Ghosh:
“While an interesting personality is one of the important facts in a successful effective lesson, it is very doubtful if the teacher with personality would have a continuous success in his lesson unless he has a proper grip over the method, i.e., methods of teaching.”
According to Bryce:
“He has to do as much talking as is necessary for fulfilling his fundamental duty of making things vivid, clear, and kindling a love for the subject.”
Since the history teacher has to serve coming generations with his social service so his role is more or less of a responsible social worker. He can be said to have achieved his task if he has been able to would the lives of young ones in the right direction.
13. A good story teller:
Story-telling is an art and it is most desirable thing to be possessed by a history teacher. A good history teacher should be capable of framing stories connected with different historical aspects and present such stories to his students in an interesting way. This quality is more desirable in a history teacher teaching lower classes. It makes him a very History Teacher successful teacher.
14. Capacity to Undertake Excursions and Tours:
The teaching of history requires that the students should be taken out on tours and excursions to the places of historical importance. It is the teacher of history who has to accompany the students in order to explain the things to them. The teacher of history should be capable of undertaking and understanding things.
15. Capacity to Arrange and Decorate the History Room:
In the modem education the need of a separate history room or history class has been well-emphasised. A history room cannot be established and furnished unless the teacher of history is anxious to furnish and decorate it. In fact, in the teaching of history, a good deal of importance is given to a history room. The history room should be equipped with black-board, historical pictures, charts and other materials.
A teacher of history, in the words of Prof. E.L. Husluck should have the following qualities:
“History requires a teacher who is willing to be ever active, ever inquiring, ever on his guard against the numerous fit falls which beset his path. He may take as his motto that of our ‘ducal houses covendo huts.”