Before we pay respects to our teachers who taught us through the education system, we should first thank our first teachers in life – our parents. Our first steps, our first words, everything starts with them. I remember my son’s first words and my mother’s face lighting up. I could see what she would have felt 29 years ago. But we should also remember that not everyone is privileged to have parents. Many lose their parents young and their teachers are those who encourage first real positive steps towards a better life.
Everyone has a favorite teacher in school and college. Our favorite teacher would explain things to us with kindness. The one we truly hated is the one who explained subjects with fear. Call it god’s handiwork or coincidence, but my math teacher was the strictest and the most feared. In college, the teachers became even more aggressive. I don’t blame them, having to control a class full of hormonally-active teenagers who are busy passing notes to each other instead of concentrating on the class; anyone would lose their temper.
When I think about teachers, I think about my favorite Mrs. Wadia, our music, art and craft teacher. I looked forward to those classes not because they provided a break from serious subjects but genuinely because my heart was free and without fear in her classes. I went to an all-girls school but she never forced it down on us that we should know tailoring or stitching. Her music class was in a small but airy room with a big black piano. In order to pass the music class, we had to sing in front of the class. This was supposed to install confidence amongst us to speak in front of a crowd and to bring forward any talented singers in the limelight. Hearing us crooning, I am sure she needed some kind of medication after our classes.
The jobs our teachers do today are far more challenging in terms of keeping up with modern technology. In the olden days (ok I am not THAT old) if we didn’t know something, we used to highlight it and ask the next day to our teachers. Today we have Google. I won’t be surprised if there hasn’t been an argument between a student and a teacher in today’s classrooms over a topic researched on Google. Science has grown by leaps and bounds that what was not possible ten years back is now possible. So teachers need to keep abreast of changes and not follow textbooks blindly.
Even though this is one of the most important jobs in our society, every person living on this planet knows that this is one job that has no monetary value. Job satisfaction maybe, but it’s hard to make a living. Our society would rather pay a heroine or a hero lakhs of rupees to dance on top of a table instead of giving teachers their due. So what is the driving force for someone entering this profession? I wish the answer is as simple as ‘to impart knowledge’, but it’s actually more to change perception, thinking and attitude and overall society.
However life teaches us more than anything else can. The situations we create or the choices we make teach us lessons which are more memorable than what is taught in books and in lectures. We think that the universe controls us. In fact, it is the other way around. Every choice you make it makes a ripple effect on those around you. Imagine you are at a cross road. On the left, there is on-going traffic, but is a short cut to your destination. If you go right it is a longer road but a smoother journey. You make your decision and move in without batting an eyelid .But in reality you are changing your destiny. If you take the road on the left, you would be either be late or early to your destination and that is what changes everything sometimes. The small choice you made then has made a bigger impact now. So our choices are our biggest teachers, from the smallest choice to the biggest, the learning never ends.
September 15th 2013.