When I woke up this morning, I had no idea of the date or the day. That’s not unusual. I frequently forget them, as does my son. I only remembered that it was a Wednesday, when I looked at his timetable to set out his uniform for the day. And that was about all, till I turned on the computer and settled down to read some of my favourite blogs. One of the first I read turned out to be Zephyr, whose thoughtful posts do just that – make me think! And this one did too. It reminded me that today was the fifth of September – Teachers’ Day.
There was a time when Teachers’ day was a great occasion – we gathered flowers for our teachers, made them cards, wished them in a chorus as soon as they entered the class. Those days are long gone, and I haven’t met any of my teachers for years! Samhith’s school does celebrate the occasion of course, but on a much less grander scale as far as the kids are concerned. There are just a few who bring flowers, and Samhith himself is least interested in doing so. He will probably wish his teacher when the others in the class do so, but that will be all, and forgotten by the time he comes home. Instead, the school prefers to give the teachers a treat on the next Saturday – by taking them on a picnic! Well, the times have indeed changed!!!
Teachers these days have a lot more training than ours ever had. They have the latest facilities at their disposal – not to mention tools like Google and Powerpoint! Yet, I can’t help thinking at times that we had a much better connect with our teachers than the kids of today! I can’t speak for all kids and all schools, but only of what I see around me. On one hand there are the parents who are bored sitting at home, and choose instead to go and teach in the nearby schools, usually the one their kids go to. On the other hand are the presumably well trained teachers such as those our school says they hire. However, from what I can see, there are still just a few who can really ‘teach’ children. For teaching isn’t simply reading the book and answering the questions at the end, or even just passing on the knowledge they have about the topics on the syllabus.
I can’t put into words what I really expect of teachers, but I can share with you my experiences with my own teachers, which have stayed back with me over all these years, which makes me appreciate them all the more today.
How can I forget Mrs Gonsalves, who told us in 6th standard ‘ Enjoy your school life. You will long for these days when you grow older!” and how can I forget how strenuously we argued with her, insisting that we certainly would not miss homework or the uniform! How little we knew then!
Or Mrs. Violet, who, when my mom landed in school, worried sick about my refusal to go to classes even though I was in 9th standard, calmed her down and assured her that I would do well even without any extra coaching. And then, after all that, came up to me and told me that if I really wanted to make her words come true, I would have to work really hard. She helped me through the next two years, making me write and re-write essays, telling me that all answers, were actually essays – just on different topics. If I learnt how to write well, and knew the topics on my syllabus, I could crack any subject!! How right she was! I never imagined I would make a career out of writing, but it is thanks to her that I can write well at all!!
And then, there was Mrs. Pai, who noticed my falling marks in Sanskrit, even though it wasn’t her subject at all, and convinced her daughter’s Sanskrit teacher to give me a crash course in Sanskrit for two weeks so I could get my doubts cleared. I still remember the look on the Mrs. Patwardhan’s face when I landed at her home. “I am taking you on because she is my friend” she said, and proceeded to ram details into my head for two weeks. The day I received my SSC marks, I realised that I had not fared as well in science and maths as I had expected to. Instead, I had aced Sanskrit – scoring a complete 100/100! “Well done! You have made us proud!” were the only words the remarkable women told me, and these words then meant and even today mean so much more than any other praise I have received!
If I love Physics so much, it is only thanks to the teachers I have had. First, there was Mrs. Samuel in 8th standard, who brought magnets to class to teach us about them. That was the first year that my scores in class rose. My fascination with magnets hasn’t abated yet!!!
But above all, there was Mrs. Kulkarni in XI and XII. She not just made physics come alive in class, but was a great teacher. When I dropped and broke a prism on my first day in the lab, I didn’t realise how it would affect me. My hands shook every time I had to handle a prism or a lens. Till she called me to the lab one fine day, and made me do the experiment again by myself, away from the others’ mocking eyes. She taught me how to look at the prism and ‘imagine’ the rays of light and their deflection, and showed me just how easy it was! Needless to say, I not only aced the practicals for the two years I was with her, I also topped the college in physics both years, and chose to go much further in the subject!
I have met many more wonderful physics teachers – Prof. Rangwala was one I can never forget. How many others can hold an entire room enthralled with Quantum Mechanics? Or Namjoshi Sir, who was a chain smoker, but who even managed to make Thermodynamics interesting! As to the Theory of Relativity, I have yet to meet a teacher who can teach the subject better! Or Dr. Patil, who, while teaching me theoretical physics, managed to get me interested in Opera!!!
I was lucky to have had so many wonderful teachers, each of whom had a very important part in making me who I am. And these are just a few. There were so many more. I can simply go on and on, but the post is already long enough, and then again, what will I write about, the next time I get an urge to write about teachers the next time?
Most of my teachers are still around, but for some reason or the other, I haven’t been able to meet them again, since a very long time. However, scarcely does a day go by when I don’t think of them, or thank them for making me who I am.
Writing this post was easy.... the words just came.. as if they had been waiting to come out for a very long time! And long overdue, I guess!!! So, here’s wishing all teachers a very happy Teachers’ Day. And hoping Samhith is blessed with some wonderful teachers too!!