Friday, September 01, 2006

Darkness in the Classroom!

When I was in school, in my second standard, I was a child who had the worst handwriting in class. I was often used as an example of how not to write by my classmates. My hands used to sweat, they still do and that used to turn the four lined notebooks into such an ugly mess, that at the end of the day, I used to hate myself for being such a failure, for being so clumsy and used to go home and break the pencils in rage. The mere sight of a four lined notebook with those red and blue lines used to make my nerves restless and I would shrink in fear.

And one fine day, I found myself in the third standard. Our class teacher was a very prim Anglo Indian Lady. Her name was Ms.Mitchel. She used to write for us on the blackboard and we used to copy it silently on our notebooks. She once walked by me and happened to notice what I was writing, to her horror and my embarrassment. That day, she asked me to stay back during lunch and sat by my side. She took my hand in hers and slowly made me write the alphabet. She did it around five times and then suddenly let go of my hand. You can imagine the joy I then had, when suddenly there flowed out from my hand, freely written beautiful letters. Now this is not something which my teachers in the earlier classes or my mother had not tried to do with me, but that moment was somehow so magical for me and from that day I wrote better, I wrote more legibly.

Now there is no reason for me to have remembered this suddenly, but the fact is that after reading about the recent events which have been happening across the country, I am totally devastated. In Maharashtra, we witnessed the death of Prof. Harbhajan Singh Sabharwal, a sad result of the students going haywire due to political motivations. A big blemish on the student community, this one incident shall remain forever. Later in another separate incident we heard of a teacher in Jammu and Kashmir, who had poured acid on few of his students in a school, scarring them for life. How can we not feel confused? How can we not feel anguished? The purity and importance we give to the student-teacher relationship is suddenly being tested in a way, which has both put us to shame as well as had us seething in anger.

I have always remembered all my teachers, though I have committed the mistake of not having gone back to them later, once I got promoted or once I passed out of the school and had to go to another city to join college. I could not get time to go and meet them. However I shall make no excuses. That was a mistake on my part.

But today when the word classroom creates in our minds a feeling of emptiness, a feeling of having been enveloped in permanent darkness, I am crying out to my teachers, that I love and respect you from the bottom of my heart and sincerely hope that you will always consider me as a good student of yours. Some of you have hit me, some of you have scolded me but none of you have inflicted grave pain on my heart or scarred me permanently. I thank you all for that.

Over the years my handwriting did deteriorate, but whenever I wanted to write something neatly, I always reminded myself of Ms.Mitchell and later did a good job. There is right now darkness in the classroom of our minds. Let us hope it is temporary and that classrooms the world over will continue to spread light, will continue to spread warmth.


Gaurav Jain said...

Very nice post! I, too, have always felt guilty of not going back to meet my teachers. I, too, wanna tell them how much I respect them from the bottom of my heart, and want them to love me as much. Your incident with Ms. Mitchell remind of many of my teachers with whom I had real special attachment, and whom I'll never ever forget whatsoever. one of my teachers used to call me a "mathematician" - something only she has called me ever in my whole life.

Also, the dark side of the classroom as you highlighted, which is very much in the news these days, is quite a sad story. Teachers are committing unimaginable acts with studenst now-a-days, and one can only wonder what's going to happen to the educational institutions in our country if this becomes the rule more than the exception.

Hip Grandma said...

I am not able to post comments WHY?

Hip Grandma said...

I tried and tried finally when I was abt to give up the previous comment appeared.A good post.

passerby55 said...

A Remarkable post!

how beautifully you have related the present happenings to your personal (past) .. and then you value your present. i enjoyed this post.

makes me too realise i do value all my classroom days and my teachers...

Srijith a wonderfully written post.
HEy! MohanChand karamchand Gandhi also wrote in a bad, very bad handwriting...My son too gives me this excuse...*smiles*..

Ram said...

So true. I feel so bad of not going back to visit my teachers. Its going to happen soon - you've lit a fire under me now :)

I think that this shift in attitudes is apparent more at the college level , at least to me, than at the school level. Seriously, I have seriously had some professors comment directly that they feel kind of awkward to hear that their students get paid more than them as soon as they leave college!

Sure there are issues other than money that is causing this issue, but perhaps its a question of the wrong people getting into the right profession.

Teaching is an art, its among the toughest and most rewarding professions in the world, and everyone cannot be a teacher. Its responsbility and a privilege. You're paid nothing, but those true teachers - the ones who change countless lives in so many ways everyday - hardly do it for the money.

Took me back to my days at DTEA in New Delhi my friend, and made my thankful for those who helped shape my life...

RandomThoughts said...

A well timed post Srjith... with Teacher's day round the corner! I hope your teacher reads this couldn't give her a bettter gift!
Somehow the profession today has lost its commitment & its just like any other job! But then the silver lining is you still the likes of have Ms. Mitchells around!
GOd bless her!


Sreejith Kumar said...

Wah! That was an impressive and remarkable post. In fact, I still keep writing to two of my teachers in high-school, to whom I owe so much. I still call them, visit them (though only rarely) and greet them on special occasions. It is a great feeling to realise the warmth of a relation that grew out of classrooms. Teaching is so sacred.

rajasree said...

it's a wonderful post srijith..i myself have felt the same many times..i had a maths teacher whom i feared a lot(in LP classes)..i still dont know why(she never caned or scolded me)..but she understood my fear and took it in a good spirit..she tried hard to gain my confidence..and the next year she was my most favourite teacher(and after that i used to get nice caning from her) i dont even know where she's so ungrateful of me..and am feeling it more now..since am a lecturer myself.
Now i understand how much attached a teacher can get with her students...and how much it hurts when we feel ungratefulness from a student's part..i often pray silently for forgiveness from my teachers..if i ever knowingly or unknowingly hurt them.

Srijith Unni said...

@Gaurav : Nice to know that you share my opinion. "Mathematician".. hmm that sounds like a good name.. Lucky You..! Yes, Gaurav, sadly though the post got you reminded of the good school days.. the provocation for me was these incidents which are shocking and confusing in several aspects.

@Hip Grandma : I`m very sorry Hip Grandma, I do not know why you are not able to post comments. Ever since i moved to blogger beta, i have been having some problem or the other. Thanks for your appreciation though.. As a teacher yourself, I highly value your opinion.

@Passerby55 : The post is after all only a small tribute to the service the teaching community has done for every generation. Thanks for your encouragement and support. Keeps me going..Yeah, I too have given that excuse a couple of times :) :)

@Ram : :) Nice to know that I lit the fire in you.. Yes do go and meet them.. I`ll be happy. Yes.. you said it. Teaching is an art..! and they dont just do it for money.

@Rashmi : If she does read this, I would be so very happy. Thanks for your appreciation and support.. The post being at a time near to Teacher`s day, I must say was purely coincidental. :)

@Sreejith : That is very nice to hear Sreejith, that you still keep in touch..Believe me not many people do that..! Good for you..!

@Rajasree : Your prayers will surely be heard, as I hope mine will be too. Welcome in here.. I am not able to visit your profile..Thanks a lot for your kind words.. Hope you go on to become a great teacher.

Kakshi said...

I guess we were lucky to have been in an era where teacher's used to treat us like their own children..
I remember I was in hostel when I was in 5th std, and each and every teacher there was so close to us, they used to treat us like their own children..
I too feel guilty that I haven't kept in touch with most of them..but the ones with whom I have still maintained contacts, are happy that I kept in touch with them.
Nowadays, not only classrooms, but schools themselves are going in darkness..I remember during our times students were asked to give tests and interviews to access their academic performance for admission. But today parents are interviewed and asked questions about their salary, the number of foreign holidays they take in a year and so on..All this apart from the heavy amount which the parents have to shell out as 'Donation' no matter how good or bad the child is..The schools today are really in a sorry state!

Anonymous said...

hi sreejith,
this is my umpteenth attempt to post comment in ur blog.i was wondering why!now i know,its coz u hava shifted to blogger bets,where only beta blogger or anonymous ppl cant post comments.i am monsoon-dreams,posting as anonymous coz there is no other way!
nice post.ya we do remember our teachers with lots of love.but why do their number dwindle as we grow up?is it becoz we were innocent during childhood and become judgemental as we grow up?

Balaji said...

Wonderful post Sreejith. So many people have influenzed us to become what we are now and many a times we don't remember them. The day we do, the only that will be there in our mind is respect and gratitude for making us what we are.

starry nights said...

vERY INSPIRING POST sRIJITH. I also have fond memories of my teachers and have to thank them for being there for me and helping me through rough periods in my life.

Srijith Unni said...

@Kakshi : Yes that is another very true fact, shwetha that schools today have a lot of unnecessary formalities and an huge exorbitant fee structure.. Education does not come cheap these days..

@Monsoon Dreams: I am very sorry you had to go through all this trouble to post your comments. the transformation to beta blogger really sucks..! Yes we do tend to become judgemental as we grow. But however, good teachers never fail to inspire.

@Balaji: Yes, Balaji how very true.. The day we remember them, we will be full of gratitude for them. That is very true and is easily experienced.

@Starry Nights : All of us do have a special place for our teachers don`t we. ? Nice to know that your teachers were with you during your tough times

Ram said...

Happy Onam Sri!

Srijith Unni said...

@Ram : Thanks a lot!, my friend. I haven`t gone home for Onam, and especially since my grandfather passed away recently, there is not much of a celebration. But the Onam spirit is still there dormant..Thanks for the wishes a lot!

Has to be me said...

Lovely post srijith! True we owe so much to our teachers. No wonder they say "Mata, Pitah Guru Deivam". And what a is teachers' day!
And yes, Happy Onam to u!

chitra said...

a very nice tribute to the teachers.

alex said...

Its so true Srijith. The teachers are deteriorating in quality and so are the tsudents. Its lamost a vicious chain.
Well i can relate to a bad handwriting because i still get threatened for my handwriting, but the funny part is that, i somehow love my

It is startling to hear of such atrocities committed by students nad teachers. People are loosing respect for others and in the process losing their self respect.

Maya Cassis said...

We always have that one special teacher( or more) who have made a huge difference in our lives.Some teachers are so devoted and some are not.but most of the ones I have come across have been extremely super duper examples of what teachers have to be.But sadly,once I got to college I started noticing a weird trend shift and the professors were not as devoted as the teachers at school.infact they didn't care much.
It's sad to know that the teacher-student relationship has taken a tumble plus it's not what it used to be...hoping for the return of innocence in all spheres.
Beautiful post as always :)

priya said...

A wonderufl post Unni. As you said, what we are taught are picked up by us when we learn.

Srijith Unni said...

@Has to be me : Yes, teachers do hold a special place in our heart, don`t they. A very happy Onam to you too..!
Thanks for your support.

@Chitra : Thanks a lot.!,

@Alex : Indeed a very sad state of affairs, Alex. Let us hope the situation improves.. Yeah i too like my handwriting :)

@Maya Cassis : Nice to see you back in here :) The task is relatively easier for the professors in college, because they have a more mature audience. It may not be that they are any lesser teachers. In colleges the emphaisis is more on the subject of study.

@Priya : Thanks a lot for your appreciation and support. I am trying to fix the sidebar, the colour of google reader etc.. need to set apart some time to do that.

Friends, my apologies for the late reply. I`ve been a bit busy with work recently.