Learning on Teacher’s Day

We had a teacher in school who used to hit us with the edge of a wood­en ruler on our knuck­les when we were wrong. We also had a teacher who, when she entered the class­room, would be received by ram­bunc­tious hooli­gans shout­ing at the top of their voic­es. The amaz­ing thing was, this teacher, went on teach­ing math­e­mat­ics on the black­board, seem­ing­ly imper­vi­ous to the chaot­ic and bois­ter­ous scene in the class­room.

I pitied those teach­ers. They nev­er real­ly taught us any­thing. They seemed to be doing a job.

And then there were oth­ers.

There were those who cared about teach­ing. Mrs. Parad­kar was my school teacher who went out of the way. She taught us Marathi and San­skrit, but what stood out was her guid­ance dur­ing spe­cial events like 2nd Octo­ber, the Gand­hi Jayan­ti, and 15th August, the Inde­pen­dence Day. I was always a part of the singing group and she not only rehearsed us in the bha­jans and the anthem, but also explained their mean­ing so we sang with con­vic­tion.

She took a lik­ing to me over the years, and I vis­it­ed her home. She fed me, and gift­ed me books of Swa­mi Vivekanan­da, which I still trea­sure. There was no oth­er teacher like her.

Being an unre­al­is­tic ide­al­ist, as a young kid, I felt I should not be study­ing in this restric­tive Indi­an sys­tem of edu­ca­tion, and decid­ed to apply to US uni­ver­si­ties for an under­grad­u­ate admis­sion. When need­ing rec­om­men­da­tion let­ters from my school teach­ers, I was faced with a dif­fi­cult prob­lem. Which teacher, from a small sub­urb of Mum­bai, would give me a nice­ly writ­ten rec­om­men­da­tion let­ter for US uni­ver­si­ties? Mrs. Thomas came to the res­cue and she gave me a nice let­ter that accom­pa­nied my appli­ca­tions. I will for­ev­er be indebt­ed to her for her kind­ness.

In col­lege, I was gen­er­al­ly unhap­py with my teach­ers and used to rebel against them. My rebel­lion was actu­al­ly against the rigid aca­d­e­m­ic sys­tem, not my pro­fes­sors, but I was too young to know that.

One pro­fes­sor stood out, Mr. Chugani. He did not just teach us fol­low­ing the syl­labus, he made us think for our­selves. I felt so lib­er­at­ed at being able to do my own exper­i­ments in the mechan­ics lab, which were out of our syl­labus, but still being able to con­duct those exper­i­ments, write obser­va­tions in our jour­nal and have Pro­fes­sor Chugani review them.

That was true learn­ing and Pro­fes­sor Chugani under­stood and encour­aged it. I was blessed to have a teacher like him. I am also blessed to have made friends with him over the years.

Life itself is a great teacher, but we fail to learn from it. What we need is a help­ing hand, a guide, a men­tor, who helps us nav­i­gate life’s dif­fi­cul­ties.

On this Teacher’s Day, I bow to every­one who has taught me, and ask for their for­give­ness if there was a les­son I did not learn. The biggest les­son I’ve learnt is that I did not learn enough from my teach­ers.

This entry was posted in Personal and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.