Friday, September 5, 2014

Our Teacher....!

Today, being the birth anniversary of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, India’s former President and a celebrated academician and statesman, which is celebrated as Teacher’s day, it’s time to remember and thank all our teachers who’ve nurtured us through the years. I haven’t read too many books to Abhay on teachers and when I have, I haven’t forgotten to mention my school teacher who made a big difference to my life then and in some ways, even now. I have been a teacher’s daughter myself and I have seen how much admiration, goodwill and respect she enjoys from her students….which is reflected in their interaction with her …even though it’s been more than a year since her retirement. A teacher may be the principal motivation for many students behind attending school or college. Extending the same to others who’ve played the role of teachers and mentored us when we were directionless…. be it our parents, seniors, first boss or current associate….its time acknowledge their contribution too…!! So you may or may not support Prime Minister Narendra’s Modi’s Teacher’s day address today, or may or may not have been  able to listen in on his address but you cannot but deny the momentous role of a teacher in shaping the future of the individual and society!

On the occasion of Teacher’s day, I picked by “Our Teacher” by Sundara Ramasamy, a well known literary figure in Tamil, known as ‘su.raa” , which is an Ode to his favourite teacher in school, Elizabeth Ma’am….who reminds me of our own Elizabeth Ma’am in College….in fact I think everyone who has studied in a convent would have been taught by a teacher named Elizabeth! J Narrated in first person, the story set in pre-independence era, revolves around a new teacher in school named “Elizabeth Thomas” having been appointed to teach the students of Section A of Class VIII, who were considered not-so-bright students, as opposed to the students of section B of the same class who always win the Annual Sitalakhsmi prize for Excellence every year. But nothing could deter Elizabeth Ma’am from believing in her students’ potential to “march into Class 9 like smart young soldiers". She thus instantly won over her students who were motivated to work hard and realize their true potential. Elizabeth Ma’am’s efforts paid off when her students gradually aced the half yearly assessments, despite reservations expressed by their rival class teacher Ms. Padmavathi Ma’am. Such was their confidence that they even aspired to compete with section B for the Annual Sitalakhsmi prize for Excellence!  However during the run up to year end assessments, Elizabeth Ma’am’s academic integrity is questioned and she does what most shy away from doing – she owns up to her mistake and sets an example for her students that there should not be any compromise on honesty and integrity! A beautiful story that touches upon many aspects of student-teacher life –the excitement and eagerness of a new teacher, student and teacher rivalry, classroom and staff room politics, teacher-student rapport, and the life lessons learned inside and outside classrooms ….. in all make a great read on Teacher’s day!  It would be a travesty not to mention the brilliant pencil sketch illustrations by Neeta Gangopadhyay that provide a perfect setting to that time and age when there was no one like Elizabeth Ma’am! Happy Teachers day to all the teachers!!

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