A Teacher in me

By Mr. Sumangal Haldar

Podcast By Akanksha Seth

You can listen to the article here or read the transcript below…

I am Ghanshyam Godbole. A Teacher. Never in my life I thought that I would apprise or document my experience of being a teacher. There is nothing new to it, but the modern understanding of education, or teaching-learning process may make you feel like it is new with some positive take-aways.

Even being brought to this world in a family of teachers is not sufficient to convince the kith and kin that teaching is a profession worth mentioning. While the young ladies are spared to develop this as an interest area, right from their childhood when with their dupatta draped like a saree and with a stick in their hand they mimic the teacher-student play; but for men scornful eyes at any such act like this would bring them down to stop furthering even the thought of teaching. Likewise, it was our case, as we saw no male teachers in our pre-primary or primary classes. The atmosphere in the family watered and nurtured our ambitions from being a police inspector to pilot to district magistrate to company executive to whichever direction the flight of imagination of a young mind could take me to.

As is accepted and known to the world, teachers mostly, are from the lot who ought not be paid well. How can they be? It is such a noble profession! They are meant to be like candles who burn themselves out to give light to those who seek it, only to be consumed till their very end. The only motivation for people entering this profession is the respect they get, which has been the major factor of seeing more of real teachers from generation to generation.

Our family conditions were not any better. Morning or evening, what all I could see was the teaching-learning process being unfolded in various forms. Amidst the budget constrained atmosphere, an easy way to earn the pocket expenses for children in house was teaching again, but with the same rider as that for the parents…how can you charge so much? In my hey days, I tried acting a rebel. I joined the corporates; the package was lucrative (at least to me) and the frequent promotions I got made me a stubble in the eyes of many. I could have survived all the outer backlash, but the inner turmoil made me leave that job. My software was altogether different which was not getting in sync with others.

A bit of flashback. As a colony teacher, which had a slum nearby, by now to almost all in the age bracket of 4 to 15, I had earned the privilege of being referred to as bhaiya, by all, beyond age boundaries. If a fight would occur it would be bhaiya to decide; if some birthday celebration bhaiya must come; if some kid was not listening to his parents, bhaiya would settle things; if some kid was making nuisance, bhaiya should be informed; overall nothing would happen surrounding this age bracket if bhaiya was not informed. The bhaiya-calling family had around 40 such members in the said age bracket.

The bhaiya-calling family could no more see light of the day, officially, when I joined the corporates. And when proven a misfit there I edged towards a bigger institution to explore my teaching skills. God’s grace brought me to the best institution in the University, and I was assigned a class to teach. Based on my qualifications I was given the subject English. I started my bombastic discourse, with little knowledge that my grammar was going haywire, and the audience had people from best of the English medium schools in the city. A little bit of giggling here and there; I ignored and went on. First day uninterrupted 45 minutes gave me confidence to improve upon.

Eight long years were spent in the same place, that chiselled my identity as that of a teacher. Some thousands I taught in these eight years, and memories thereof may lead to an unending labyrinth.  Still some categorized memories do demand a mention on this page.

Counselling: There were endless counselling sessions that happened post class in the corridors first and then to my work-station. These counselling sessions proved to some, very beneficial and to others who viewed it happening as they passed by, a subject for my character assassination. The age bracket to which my students belonged was that of youngsters who were more comfortable with the opposites to their biological identity- in terms of opening up, seeking counselling and suggestions, and more so seeking affection. I am no psychologist, but this is what my experience says.

Disciplining: Hated by some and loved by many, two teachers, in the whole college, were a perfect fit to this statement, and one was me. Be it any commotion, any mischief anywhere in and off campus, if the objective in concern is disciplining it landed on our shoulders. I personally feel that disciplining is a part of love and affection culture, or rather it is the completion of it. People tend to dissociate both and analyse, often giving a negative form to the first one that is disciplining. No disciplining is comforting in beginning. It should cause pain to the person towards whom it is directed and also to the person who inflicts it. An army personnel may feel and explain it better. I can quote hoards of incidents that led to taking severe disciplinary measure (at the level of college students) but the affection between the receiver and the giver still exists. Some even give credit for success in their life to that very disciplining event. 

Career Guidance: The professional-education colleges may hate me for this, and those parents too who have a fixation for some profession to be taken up by their children; but I never lost a chance to undo this fixation or provide some inputs that could liberate the poor soul to freedom of his passion. My favourite teacher always told me I should try to become a commercial artist, and I would earn to my full, but I never could pursue that. Though incidents in my life showed that I have a good inclination towards the same. So, I did the same, many students at this age need this push, a little push could make a difference, those courageous enough will take firm decisions and bring about some difference in life.

There is a limit to this blog page prescribed by the Genesis Webzine editorial community so I must adhere to it. I feel like writing another 10 pages or so but let me keep something for future. Since, 5th of September is celebrated as Teacher’s Day, I pay all respects to my teachers too, whom, from the time I left school, I left college, I desired to pay my respect on this very day (at least).  But unwillingly I miss it, sometimes out of regret that I didn’t keep a proper connect with them. I feel the difference they brought about with them in our lives. However, our lives, and the rushed pace of affairs every day, has made it tough for us to reflect on these pure thoughts of joy. So, thank you Genesis team for giving me this chance.

The author is an educationist and trainer involved at various levels of teaching and educating students.

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