In honor of Teachers

I keep hearing snide remarks about the ability and motivation that today’s teachers have and THAT makes my blood boil. The remarks usually come from those who have too many privileges, have seen very little of rural India and done null or very low quality research of any kind. I know I suffer from limited context, but yet I am confident that I have seen enough and I am qualified to comment.

I come from a family of teachers. Both my parents were teachers for some length of time. So are many members of my extended family. Bacause of the financial problems faced by my family I have studied in munciple and other not so high quality schools (How my father used to dream of putting me in an expensive convent school). Most of the teachers I have seen in Gujarat, even in those low lying places are genuinely interested in student learning. Even more than 4 decades back, I have never seen corporal punishment in action. I have seen teachers with such high level of empathy which may put many prof.s with big degrees to shame.

Let me recount some of my favorites in brief. One of the strongest impression a teacher had made on me was a widow in a white saree, Jayaben. May parents who did not believe in personal tutions, asked me to get tutored by her for an hour everyday. I did not really need it. I was doing well at studies. Jayaben lived in a small room, my memory tells me it was about 10 by 6 feet. A primus stove on one side, bed on the other, a relative’s kid on the bed. What attracted me to her was her politeness. She was so nice to all the kids at school, some of whom had illiterate parents, no footwear, towels in place of sweaters, most were dirty and had limited language skills. She was equally nice to all. Her memory makes me feel good.

Then there were Mr. Aghera and  Mr. Oza, (I have started forgetting the names but not the people) both of them cared for the students and had excellent teaching abilities. However there were two teachers who were not officially my teachers in any subject, who taught me quite a lot. One I have never known the name of. Let us call him Mr. AB. Mr. AB was a teacher in one of the posh schools of the town, I was about 9 or 10 then. I saw him one day in the street, being followed by a bunch of kids. Some were asking him for a story, others were asking him for candies. It appears that that was his regular routine. Distributing stories and candies to the underprivileged.

The other teacher was my class teacher at the G T school In Rajkot, Mr. Chhaya. He was a commerce teacher and so did not teach anything to us science students officially. However he kept posting very interesting problems everyday on the notice board. Anyone was allowed to walk into his office at anytime and he would drop whatever he was doing to talk to the student. I was new in the city, was struggling with my English skills. He was such a great teacher to provide support which went a very long way towards building my Math and Science skills. There were many more but it is not possible to enlist all experiences. But I end with our beloved Raju sir, the physics teacher at KVKV Rajkot.

I was in class 11th. He had joined new in the school. I remember his first class, he was teaching about the Galileo’s experiment on determining velocity of light using eclipse of Jupiter’s moons. He asked everyone to take notes. I hate taking notes but since the teacher had asked there was no go. I did not follow his pronunciations so the notes were complete muddles. In another class again when everyone was taking notes, in protest I closed my eyes and kept writing. At the end of the class he said Mitaxi, give me your notes, we shall use them to build the model. I handed my notes over, shame-faced, they were not too bad even with closed eyes. He made  models, was gentle with the students, allowed me to ask as many questions as I wanted. I remember that at times other students would get annoyed and ask me to stop questioning, so that the class could proceed.

I have seen teachers who would stay with a paralyzed girl in hospital (victim of domestic violence), teachers who would go those extra miles to support and teach often giving up their family lives. They build lives, create a better society. So when some highly educated prof. says teachers don’t do much, what I actually want to do is scream. Not mine, my teachers have been very nice to me, probably yours were not, that is why you have ended up being such an insecure, un-trusting being. Sorry for the outburst but it is quite liberating.

(It is dialogues that help us become better, do contribute your thoughts)

Why is that, that not many people “like” this blog, or “follow” it ? I guess “this” reality is not as much fun as fiction or sex to most, that is why.


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PhD in Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos. Teaching Physics and Mathematics to engineers for more than 11 years. I have a huge interest in teaching and learning and an incurably optimistic attitude to the limit of sounding insane. Unless specified I always interpret words as per average public perception where I take the average over my known universe, the context unfortunately is only limited to my universe, but I hope neuroscience will change it sooner or later.

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