Sonia Dogra

It’s always a fleeting thought in my mind that what would it be like to look up some of my old teachers again. I’m sure in moments of reminiscence of school days this idea crosses many a minds. The only difference is that we fail to do what Mitch chose to do. He chose to find his way back to one who understood him when he was young, impatient and lost… still searching for purpose. Interesting is that if Every Mitch chooses to get back to his mentor, he is most likely to find more of life’s lessons there. As for every Mitch’s Morrie that’s the day the latter will find his Hall of Fame.

It’s the month of September and for me it’s the month of Morrie… My Teacher. That’s a special name I borrow from Mitch Albom who gets back to his teacher Morrie Schwartz during the latter’s final days and in a way rediscovers him (bestseller “Tuesdays with Morrie”). A special tribute feature, where the writer digs deep to understand the emotional bonding of a teacher and his/her student, amidst celebrations by students on Teacher’s Day!

So for me September is primarily the month of the teacher. If it wasn’t really for a certain 5th of the month, most of us would continue to take our teachers too much for granted. Is it really such a deal if teachers spend hours bent over our assignments trying to correct mistakes or if they choose to read an extra bit for a morning lecture. More often than not we brush off the efforts of our mentors and fail to see what goes into making of a good teacher!

However, much like Mitch, we too are influenced by some teachers who in the course of their teachings dispense certain life lessons that go a long way into making us who we are. The lessons stay on in our subconscious and as we grow older they are sent into the background by the more pressing demands of time and life. It’s only one fine day when we decide to revisit our old teacher that a second meeting with the philosophies of life happens and we derive a certain strength to face the challenges thereafter.

With time, the dynamics of student-teacher relationship has changed. The advent of technology has made seemingly smarter students of us all and it has given us the leverage of outsmarting (or so we believe) our teachers. The concept of homeschooling, so popular in the West has picked up in our country as well making a chunk of the population believe that they can manage well without a teacher! They have conveniently replaced the teacher in class with Google, forgetting that learning is not merely finding answers.

It is strange that hundreds of students cross the life of a teacher in his career of thirty to thirty five years but most simply walk away never to look back. They adorn new roles and take on newer responsibilities. The teacher stays on, giving a bit of himself to those who are still there.

The journey that started as a profession alone assumes other connotations and becomes a passion for the teacher who is innovating each day to add something new to his teaching. Does he remember the old students? Yes. There are countless tales he has in store that he takes out on special occasions. There are many who find a place in his Hall of Fame. And he waits to find a place amongst them. He is often that one name that is forgotten in acknowledgements and that is the moment when Mitch must step in.

We, as students, often lose track of our teachers as we find our way in life. And maybe this is the reason we are given the fifth of every September to remember them. For in that one day we also remember the countless lessons we picked up from our teachers. The lessons that influenced us the most. And if we look closer those lessons still help to make our cold days warmer and more liveable.

Ever wondered how different your teachers are from you? I happened to get in touch with two of my old teachers when I conceptualized this piece a little differently. First, my Sanskrit teacher from school, old and retired. I crash landed at her place one fine day after twenty long years. There was more warmth in her hug than I could have asked for, a tear for an old student who had found some time for her and a bag full of memories. She pulled out an old picture of mine and handing it over to me said this, “I’ve been wanting to give these pictures to their rightful owners. I’ve asked a few old students to come and take them before someone I leave them to might think of throwing them away.”

My second encounter happens to be with Rana Sir, my teacher from post graduation. The encounter is only via social media and I ask him to put down a few words about his life as a teacher for me. There isn’t a moment of hesitation and within minutes of my request I get the following message,

“When I started my teaching career at St Bede’s Shimla, I was all of 23. I had my education in a Hindi medium school and was almost painfully shy of girls. Imagine, I landed up in a girl’s college, that too where young girls spoke far better English than I did. I remember one of the first resolutions I made was that if I have to survive in this institution then I must train myself to speak as well, if not better, as my students. That’s when I started my own learning process… of listening to my students and their utterances. It’s not that I was eavesdropping but I made it a point to pay attention to the way they structured their sentences. I learnt how they spoke differently and wrote English differently. Within six months I had begun to speak the way my students did. From then on there was no problem, for I had now become an insider. That was some thirty six years ago. I am now close to retirement. Occasionally when students ask me where I picked up my English from, I tell them, not at Oxford or Cambridge, but from my students. For those who wish to get into teaching and then grow in this profession, I have a little message. Never be shy of admitting your limitations and deficiencies and always create situations for yourself to learn from whomsoever you can. No one is too small to teach you anything, and you are never too big not to learn anything from others.” At the end he asks me to add one special line that says that he is extremely proud of the student of his penning this piece. I’m humbled and a little embarrassed but I know I must do it for my teacher’s word is my command.

It’s taken me one full month to put together my thoughts on the simplest people in the world…. TEACHERS. Enough to say that they are hard to sum up in words. This is just a small tribute to My Morrie….to your Morrie. Whether it’s befitting is just a foolish question to pose. But I do hope that on reading this if some Mitch Alboms decide to go and look up some Morries, I’m sure many a Hall of Fame will have their most prized pictures put up!

That’s the way of teachers. You may never go back to them or you may call out after years together but they are right there and so very ready to reach out to you any moment. They have been picking up lessons from every corner and the day you are lost in complete darkness they still hold light for you… maybe the light at the end of the tunnel is in the life’s lessons they can still give you. They are still capable of answering the bigger questions that haunt you at times. The wisdom in the words of a teacher is his lasting gift to all students. And the gratitude can never be enough.

Teacher’s Say…!

Parul Sood, Teacher, Auckland House Boys School

Here’s a look at what teacher’s have to say about the changing trends in education and the sea change there is….

The traditional “chalk and talk” method of teaching that’s persisted for hundreds of years is now acquiring inferior results when compared with the more modern and revolutionary teaching methods that are available for use in schools today. Greater student interaction is encouraged, the boundaries of authority are being broken down, and a focus on enjoyment over grades is emphasized.

As teachers, it is necessary to be able to teach and remain engaging. It puts a greater level of responsibility on creating lesson plans that truly work.

Principal Raveen Singh, EuroKid Preschool, New Shimla

Being a Preschool teacher, I’d like to focus on the advantages of pre-schooling, a concept that wasn’t a part of our education system earlier. Preschool education is vital for getting a child on the path of a successful life because

  • Maximum learning in children occurs during the first five years and 90 per cent of the brain pattern is set in this period.
  • Preschool students tend to excel in the developmental areas of social skills, language, literacy, creativity and initiative.
  • It is very important to introduce children to numbers, letters and a variety of social skills that give them a firm advantage in later life. This is done during pre-schooling.
  • It is a proven fact that children who attend preschool have a better rate of advancing in further classes than those who haven’t attended preschool.
  • This is what we do at EuroKids. The core is the unique, well researched, integrated and age appropriate curriculum making it your child’s second home.

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