As a kid from a joint family and almost illiterate parents (3rd & 5th graders) education was not something that my father wanted me to get. Seeing the practical aspects and problems in the family, I was destined to take the sickle in my hand and feed the cows. But the freewill of my mother prevailed and my formal schooling started. That’s a long story, some other day you might know.
However, a cousin of my father who shared the courtyard of our house taught me the basics even before I started schooling. I knew that tables, Hindi alphabets with his help and not to forget several verses from Ram Charit Manas that he would sing to this four-year kid sitting in his lap. He was my first teacher apart from the natural one, the mother.
My grandmother, whose name none of us know, not even her children, told me the stories and narrate the musical folklores. These stories would be full of songs and poetry. She knew so many of them and sing in perfect tune. She was a storyteller and that has to be the time when I got interested in stories, which refined in to literature in later part of my life. May she rest in peace.
I was six when I got admission in first and 18 or 19 when I was out of Sainik School Tilaiya. From this big part of my life, I remember the bad teachers. Sadly, I don’t remember many teachers who I could say he or she was worthy of being called a good teacher.
Some were good academicians, some good person, some good disciplinarians but not many who would qualify of being a role model. There were some who I admired but for reasons like good sense of humour, good speaking skills, good interpersonal skills. May be the good ones didn’t teach me! But role models? No.
That said, I would like to add that Sainik School Tilaiya was the best teacher of my life. The institution as a whole taught me a lot. Subconsciously, I became many things. Some praised me for my speeches, some for my writing, some for drawing and some for being witty. School was the teacher that transformed me into a brick from a lump of clay. And I know, I am better than many in many fields because my school gave me that confidence.
Kirori Mal College was a good place. Here, I got some teachers who were good. Good enough to change my entire outlook towards life. I had prejudices, I had established rigid views in mind which I was not ready to let go. But the three years that I spent with Keval Arora sir, Deb sir, Sanjay Sharma sir, it shook me like a washing machine.
To be a good teacher you don’t need to identify students and focus on them. You just need to be good at what you do: communicate the words in best possible way. Look at Picasso’s work, apparently you would say these are lines but just think the time and work that he would put to make the idea that simple, that flat that you afford to say, it’s merely lines, I can draw it.
These teachers did that to me. Literature can be notoriously bad choice. You need to know history, sociology, psychology apart from styles and genres. And so, you need hell of a teacher to give you what you need. And that must make you a better human being as well.
After the college, I went to IP University for post graduation, perhaps the worst choice I made but I thought I need a degree and teachers might be good, if not, I am good enough for myself. In plane words those two years were the wasted years of my life where I had no learning but witnessed politics, bitching and worst class of individuals hired as teachers barring one or two.
It was like a bad girlfriend who you just don’t want to remember. Apart from giving me a few friends for life, academically it gave me nothing as it couldn’t have.
Then, as circumstances would have it, I started teaching. I taught in a way that I wanted to be taught. I wanted to be simple, understandable and impart values rather than words printed on a piece of paper. I wanted to have music, poetry and magic in my class and that’s what I tried to give as a teacher.
I would want a teacher to be humble enough to be comfortable and strict enough to not to lower guard. You ought to be a friend, you ought to know your students as you would know your brother or child. At times you need to win them by going against the system because, you know what, system is never really good.
A teacher ought to be a rebel. A teacher ought to push students to their limits. A teacher should be a walking one man play. You need to be theatrical, social and knowledgable.
Teachers are the most important part of society. In today’s world, even more so. In a world where everything is unidimensional, someone ought to be good enough to give perspective to coming generations or we are ruined. Our race would die sooner had it not been for some good teachers.
On this teachers day, I say thank you to my family, school and college, for making me what I am and, I know I am good.