Kopili's Weblog

All about life and living.

Rantings of a student who always came first – not a great teacher’s day post

Posted by kopili on September 6, 2011

Yesterday was teacher’s day. Newspapers are awash with articles on “My best teachers” and “why I love my teachers” and so on. Facebook status updates are full of poems sung to long forgotten Madams and Misses ( thats what we used to call our convent school teachers, Miss. Thomas and Miss. Mukit etc. etc.).

It is not as though I dislike (d) my teachers. They were, by and large, well meaning human beings who mostly tried to do their job well. Some, such as our Social Science teacher, actually managed. Her classroom was packed with eager kids waiting to hear the next “story” from her. She was one teacher who really inspired us to listen, think and understand.

But, mostly, I am sorry to say, our teachers inspired us too… come first. Yes, that is what was taught to us ( or should I say me?). Personally, I think this is a rather sad thing for teachers to do. I remember being praised as a “jewel”, no less, by my teachers, for bagging the highest position in class and for being a good sportsperson. My teachers could not praise me enough. But not one, not one of them really taught me to think beyond first position.

This was a rather unfortunate situation. For yours truly, like any normal human being, was set upon a pedestal by her own teachers. And yours truly became really really scared of falling down from that high pedestal. What if I did not get the first position in the next exams? I was in such a state where I needed to be first in every damn thing – sports, maths, science, literature, what have you. In the process I got so self-absorbed I failed to notice or appreciate my classmates and the awesome stuff some of them were capable of.

It is perhaps strange for somebody who would be considered an awesome student by any of her teachers to write a post such as this. But with hindsight I think I could have done better with learning something else apart from how to hold on to that tenacious no. 1 position!!

So here, on teacher’s day, I hope that all future generations of teachers, who after all have a great influence on the kids they teach, will concentrate on making their kids better human beings. Of giving them the ability to think for themselves, to deal with failures as well as to enjoy success, to enjoy life for what it is and not merely to compete.

4 Responses to “Rantings of a student who always came first – not a great teacher’s day post”

  1. Aparna said

    Nicely captured Kanchuki.. This is one of the reasons I usually stay away from the Teachers Day wishing on Facebook :). Except for the couple of teachers I have fond memories of, I cannot apply the “All teachers are great!” emotion to them all.
    Did not walk in your shoes – was not 1st place holder much ;) – but that was pretty much the thing to aspire to! Thankful to have included BITS in my journeys which definitely set the path to my growing up, and gave an overall education in the way that school never did :).

  2. Anonymous said

    Kanchuki, I agree with you 100%. Its very rare to find dedicated teachers who would instill values in students rather than inspire them to compete. In my 9th or 10th std, one of the teachers left a v ugly scar in my life. I have no qualms in mentioning that teacher’s name. Miss Muthuswamy. She wanted to avenge for me not taking Maths tuition from her (coz I had been to her house with my parents for starting tuitions but cud not make it due to her house’s locational disadvantage and opted for another teacher). In one of the Maths class test, I still rem distinctly (more so for this ugly episode) I was sitting next to Rosy Mahanta (our class captain then)and was absorbed in giving the best presentation of the maths tables (the frequency tables). I did not want to make a messy presentation so got a ball point pen to write that presentation and submitted it. After few days, I was being surmoned by Miss Muthuswamy and she was asking me whether I had attached this sheet which was already prepared at home. I was aghast!! On questioning her doubt, she says she find my table presentation handwriting does not match with the rest of my answer papers. I clarified to her that I used a ballpoint pen for writing that so that it comes clean and non messy. She was just not willing to buy it and she was condemning me being a cheater. That day I went home and cried aloud. Felt so shattered and my confidence was shaken on my integrity being questioned. It was so easy for Ms. muthuswamy to frame me in few seconds, without thinking what the consequence could be and I took so many years to build this clean reputation and I could see it getting shattered. Not only that she went and discussed with the other teachers in the staff room so after that whenever I went to that room for some work, I could feel dirty and ‘can’t believe’ kinda stares from the other teachers. Me and my parents knew why she was doing this and we kept shut. I regret I should not have kept shut abt this. In the test, I scored 10 out 0f 10 and she gave me ‘-1′ and told me this is as a punishment for my action. My silence was mis-interpreted. But I vowed that I will prove her wrong. I got distinction in both my maths papers in my Board exam but i never went back to that school again. I lost the respect in that institution and the faculty members. Nowadays teachers are all commercial and have no feelings and any responsibility to give back to the society and the students. Thanks Kanchuki for giving me this forum to voice out my deep emotion which I still hold in my heart. Feeling good now!!!

  3. Anonymous said

    Pls read ‘surmoned’ as ‘summoned’ – it was a typo error in my above text. Thx – Karishma aka Meghna Lahkar.

  4. kopili said

    I am sorry about the unfortunate incident narrated here.

    I would like to clarify though the point I was trying to make here – through personal experience I have learnt ( Three Idiots style :-) )!! that marks and academic distinctions are not enough to see you through what you need in life. You need to learn much more.

    I am saying that teachers have this burden of performing beyond what most other human beings are required to perform. As a teacher the person is forming an impression on very impressionable minds, and things they say or do leave a mark, sometimes for ever!

    I see a teacher’s job as a heirarchy – at the base is teaching the subject for the heck of it, then higher up is teaching the subject in such a way that it provokes some kind of a spark in some of the kids at least, at the highest are those who manage to also influence the kids with values that they can cherish for a lifetime.

    Most teachers fall into the base category, some in the second, and very very few in the third ( what was that book where this guy goes back to talk to his old teacher who had inspired him, i forget the name). I remember one teacher in my school who was in the third category, and I will cherish her forever. She was one who did not care for marks or grades, and talked to each and every student with the respect they deserved.

    As I said, this is a difficult task! But I think it is worth aspiring to – because like it or not, you will leave a mark on those poor kids sitting in your class!

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