The following is an excerpt from “What are we Seeking” by TKV Desikachar & Martyn Neal.
What are the qualities of a good student?
A good student is one who is inquisitive and is searching….
A good student will have pertinent questions… and this will bring out the best in the teacher… It is up to him to learn about all the aspects of himself through the teacher.
Patience is a must. Patience is where we do not change track, irrespective of whether something happens or not, after our efforts. Patience is [also] one of the most precious qualities a teacher should have.
A good student manifests his trust in the teacher. Trust and confidence develop gradually in the relationship…
Respect and faith are essential qualities because they help a student to find his center. This is a mysterious effect of the correct relationship: the divine aspect in the teacher will reveal the divine aspect in the student.
What are the qualifies of a good teacher?
A teacher is someone who can recognize the potentials in a person and aid him in developing them. A potential is a predisposition which may not develop if certain elements are lacking… We in India believe that there is some sort of continuity and that the potentials of any person are influenced by past actions… Some things need to be done to open the way for their [potentials] development… [the teacher] will help the student learn how to use the right techniques, in the appropriate manner and at the right rhythm. He will adapt the teaching in order to respect temperament, age, health, way of life and all other factors, in such a way that the least possible conflict is caused, both to the student and his environment.
The teacher must meditate on the student in order to discover his positive features and to find the best way of removing the obstacles which prevent their development. The primary concern should be for the well-being of the student above all other considerations, and if the teacher does not have the necessary resources he should advise him [the student] to go elsewhere, in order to get the best out of the gifts which God has given to him. This means being open, humble and realistic.
Observation is one of the foremost requirements for teaching. If a teacher is just distributing technical information without observing the people who are receiving it, he will fall short of the real goal. Teaching should be like meditation, where the teacher’s focus is on the student.
A good teacher encourages independence. Dependency, loss of freedom on the part of the student, is undesirable. It is a negative result and avoiding it is a constant challenge to any teacher… Unfortunately, there are teachers who seemingly prefer that their students remain dependent.
Mutual respect is indispensable in the student teacher relationship. Without respect it is impossible for a teacher to help a student in his quest. This means taking full into account his beliefs, ideas and possibilities, understanding his lifestyle, family situation, and so on – on factor whatsoever should be rejected …Without this approach we can make mistakes. Being faced with a problem is like being in a maze; the mind creates a labyrinth around the problem and one of the worst things that a teacher can do is to take the student by the hand and show him the exit… sometimes the student is very happy in his labyrinth.
… A teacher should always look after his own personal discipline … The efforts he makes to evolve, and to see more clearly, are the best preparation for his teaching and a mark of respect for the students.
A teacher should also be accessible, able to listen to the student’s problems with an understanding ear… a teacher should know how to facilitate communication and this will inspire confidence.
[A teacher] should be an example. However, his example should not go beyond his true capacities. No one can learn from a teacher who over-stretches himself.
Continuity of learning is the basis of teaching, and any teacher who loses the will to learn, loses at the same time the capacity to teach … the guarantee of the depth of his teaching is the desire to learn, to constantly search beyond what has already been understood.