When I was studying in school, teachers’ day was not of a great relevance to me. No, we did not give flowers to teachers nor did eulogize them. Even during those times, I had a dilemma between Guru Poornima and Teachers’ Day. They generally appeared within a span of few weeks. ‘Why we celebrate two different days for the same event’ – was the question nobody liked me to ask. (Later I read that 5th September is not the real birth date of Dr. Radhakrishnan, it is his registered birth date!) Actually nobody liked me to ask any kind of question. They all wanted only answers and only those answers which they taught me to give. I thought it was profession which one was pushed into. So, I guess, I never wanted to be a teacher. And more than that I wanted the studentship to end as fast as it could.
During the last year in the school, all the students were ‘allowed’ to take a role of a teacher for one day… for one 35 minutes period to be exact. But I remember that I wasn’t interested in teaching anyone, because even then I knew that I could not. Somehow, I was pushed into that role, which I did not like.
But I have good memories of my teachers. The one in my primary school, who could write with both hands, was like a magician. The one in secondary school who became emotional while teaching a poem was exceptional – he taught me to look beyond expressed words. It opened a whole new game of ‘interpretation’ for me. I still deal with facts, interpretations, feelings, thoughts…. with enthusiasm. There was a time when I hated Mathematics. But one good teacher changed my view. He really made Mathematics a fun for me and later during the college days, my Mathematics teacher opened links of Mathematics and Philosophy to me. I can write a lot about my teachers. They have taught me a lot. Though I am not sure I picked up the right aspects of their teachings. So, don’t blame them for my faults and limitations :)
I thought that after completing my education, I will not have to listen to teachers. But I was completely wrong. I realized that learning never ends (good, otherwise what will I do if all learning is over, it would be almost like a death) and I kept on meeting teachers now and then. A traffic police not accepting the bribe (oh! Oh! Not me…) is my teacher. A Train Conductor treating a beggar very sympathetically is my teacher. A tribal woman teasing me “I know your language, but you don’t know mine, then what is the use of schooling?’ is my teacher. A woman who picks garbage from my residential complex teaches me about segregating disposable and non-disposable waste. Thousands of women dealing with domestic violence and alcohol abuse are my teachers. Some artist in the corner of the country engrossed in his art (not for livelihood) is my teacher. A bus driver, working on festival days is my teacher. I am surrounded by teachers; I am given a lot of knowledge and experience free of charge.
That has changed my perspective about teachers, though I do not like people who always preach. I admire practitioners who teach me silently and through their life. These teachers allow me to ask questions and they do not expect me to give ‘taught’ answers. In fact they do not want any answers from me. They are capable enough to ask questions and to find answers for themselves.
Aaj Kal my teachers have improved a lot. Or is it that I have improved as a student?
Does not matter until the learning process is on.