Albert Einstein once said, everybody’s a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
It all started when we have to adieu school life and take a step forward to achieve something instrumental in our journey of being human. When every friend of mine was struggling to get admission in the best of colleges, I was clueless as what to do next and what I want from my life.
During my school days, I was never a good student in my life. I managed to barely pass my exams. I liked reciting poems, acting out plays and just plain fooling-around to make those around me laugh. Sadly, my teachers didn’t like that, my class monitors didn’t let that happen and my school ‘schooled’ me in the name of discipline. I think discipline is important, and is one of the desired outcomes of what excellent education, but it is secondary to the desire to know things out on your own, doing things your own way and finding out new and different solutions to problems. Discipline runs contrary to creativity, but it is also required to give a concrete meaning to one’s dreams.
Geniuses around me said, considering your academic performance, Commerce seems so far good for you. So I opted that without thinking much about the coming days. Then commenced the college days and again I didn’t find things too interesting. Rather I liked giving tuitions to the neighbourhood kids and love to spend my evenings with them. I found that it’s not only me, but a number of children who wants something else other than same repetitive lessons in the class. Who can only and only understand when told anything in an interesting way rather than mundane lectures. I like guiding them. On teacher’s day one of my student gave me a card saying, ‘Thanks for understanding me. You are my favourite teacher’. This gave me goose bumps. Maybe because I never found any teacher to whom I can say those words. Or maybe because I haven’t expected something like this. Whatever it was, it gave me a ray of light as what to do next. I took the decision to become a teacher, knowing that the salary of a private school teacher isn’t good enough to enjoy all materialist comforts but it is going to give me satisfaction for sure.
Being a negligent but creative student myself, I finally decided to branch out myself towards giving education to those who are like me. Creative but careless. Imaginative but slapdash.
Today I am a high school teacher in a not so famous school. In my classroom I ‘try’ to achieve a balance between discipline and creativity. I crave my pupils to think freely, ask questions, question the authority, seek the truth and frolic in the classroom. I went to the school because I liked my friends and made them laugh so I let my pupils laugh and fool around if they want to. I tell them stories. I never give them full answers or explanations. I end each story with a question for them to ponder upon. I ‘try’ to make them like me, I’m confident that I’ll be able to do so. I say ‘try’ because I know that it is not always easy. I like my pupils learn to be cheerful despite hardships. I don’t know the formula for it but I know that it is contagious. I try to make my pupils love come to the class. Learning follows. I try to make myself likeable and make the children feel comfortable in the classroom. Then I allow some indiscipline in the classroom. I first ask them stupid questions to induce them to ask stupid questions and turn this into a habit. I make efforts to know each one of the student personally. Each one of them so that I can tailor my efforts in such a way that not a single child feels left out. Then I give them simple real life problems to solve, based on their lessons from books, which involve issues around their homes, villages towns, etc. Those questions sometimes also involve contemporary moral issues around them as well.
Being a poor student throughout is my biggest strength. I can put myself in the shoes of those left behind in the mad race. It has instilled in me the sense to appreciate not just academic merit, but also every small thing we do and what makes us human. I become a clown and a role model at the same time. I see both the roles as important. I concede that I cannot be a role model in a conventional sense – I’ve never achieved great things in my life – but as an honest, straightforward and sensitive person. Though it may sound stupid, but I see kindling the fire to learn among students as what constitutes excellent education.