Teacher’s Day

What a great gift I received on the Teacher’s Day! One of my students sent me this message on WhatsApp. After reading the whole message, I was in tears. Teachers out there, wherever  you are, always take pride in your profession. It might not pay you handsomely in cash but the rewards you reap are astonishing and amazing and may  last for a lifetime.  Here is what he wrote:

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Respected mam,
Happy teachers day..?. It had been almost 17 years when you taught us but still we student count you as BEST teacher of our life and this is not with any particular student. Ask the whole batch and 100% of the batch will answer the same. I still remember I joined Central Academy in class VII after studying in a Hindi medium school till class VI. I didn’t know the meaning of addition, multiplication even…..I failed in GK in one of the exams and just survived in other subjects except Hindi and Sanskrit ?….

No one was there to share and I was hopeless about studies but with gods grace you joined there and I started scoring 80+ in  Social Studies and geography in which I was managing 40-50..?

Your way of teaching left its impact on other subjects too and suddenly I was on the track in a year and after that your guidance and teaching of 3 years was the root cause of wherever I am. I think many of the students from that batch will acknowledge this fact.

Personal attention to each student, teaching methodology and discipline were the keys due to which each student paid attention and even the infamous people couldn’t dare to ignore your class:-P

Thanks mam for those turning 3 years of my life….I am thankful to you and God otherwise even i couldn’t imagine where I would have been… Need your blessings always.

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You have my blessings always. Keep smiling and do well.

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A Teacher Affects Eternity

Joy of Giving
Joy of Giving

Last week Ritu posted another ‘Joy of Giving’ card. She told us to write a thank you note to a teacher who inspired us the most. I have hardly met any teacher during school days who seemed remotely inspiring. They were more like came into class, lectured us and went out. Their interaction with students were non existent.

I remember, if there was any cultural function or debate in the school, I had never seen a notice on board. It was never announced, It was assumed that those students who were participating since KG class will only be fit to participate. A girl came and whispered something into the teacher’s ear. Teacher would call out one or two names and quietly they went out of the class. Later on we would come to know that they were participating into some event. I resented those facts so much but too young to know what to do. Later on in my life, When I was teaching myself, I took special care not to be my school teachers who were cold, indifferent and distant.

During my post graduation and B. Ed days I met two teachers who were really teachers. We were no longer kids in post-graduation class. But Prof. L. B. Verma were so inspiring and motivating as a teacher. Prof Verma’s teaching subject was history, but one day he was effortlessly explaining us how our brain works! I have already written about Sharma Sir here : Merely A Teacher?

I don’t know where Prof. L.B. Verma is right now. But I will always be grateful to him for treating the subject history the way it should be treated. Whatever understanding I have of history, is solely due to his way of teaching.

I remember students of other branches also came to listen to his usual lectures. Ha! Ha! Ha! A student doesn’t listen to his own …. If there was no place to sit in the class, students preferred to stand at the back of the class and listened to him.

Its because of Prof. L. B. Verma that I have a bit of understanding of a common man’s fight against mighty empires. History is not about Emperors and their victories but History is about how mere common men defeated mighty emperors and all pervasive church priests. How common men had to make supreme sacrifice only then formidable emperors and churches had to give up their power to the common man in the form of democracy. Mankind didn’t get democracy on a platter at all. When Anna Hazare says a common man doesn’t know the power of his vote, it means our history teachers have failed miserably to teach us what is the power of our vote and how important it is for us.

Later on, when I was teaching history to my class, I hope I was able to arouse a bit of interest in history too to my students. I don’t know where Prof. L. B. Verma is today. But I know one fact, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Its really true when I think about Verma sir.

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In Pursuit of Happiness: Out of Box Thinking

I feel immense happiness when I saw people flouting all conventional norms and doing something extraordinarily different . It gives me pleasure to write about such people. Bunker Roy can easily belong to the Baba/Baby brigade as he was educated at Doon School and later at St. Stephens College, Delhi. His grand future was all chalked out by parents and society.

Does life means draping yourself in expensive designer clothes? Eating at all the known joints? Visiting all the tourist destinations? For most of us that will be a dream life. We feel happy to feed already overfed people by indulging and copying elites. But there are some out of box thinkers. Due to their efforts humanity moves ahead.

If you want to be a solar engineering degree from Bunker Roy’s Barefoot College, your qualification is either you have to be illiterate or semi-literate. You will get extra point at admission if you are an illiterate grandmother! Honestly I am not joking. This out of box thinking belong to Bunker Roy. Bunker Roy founded Barefoot College in Ajmer, in 1972.

His out of box thinking says you won’t have to be educated to be a solar engineer. Many Indian and African grandmothers under his guidance received training to install, repair and maintain their solar units and now they are training other village women in India and Africa to be solar engineers.

He says that there are only two conditions for acceptance to the program: that the women are older than 45, and that they are illiterate.

“Once we train an illiterate woman, they never forget what they’ve learned,” says Bunker Roy. “We find that literate women tend to forget because their mind is so cluttered. With illiterate women, we find that when we visit them in their villages after a few months, they haven’t lost their knowledge.”

“We’ve found men are quite untrainable,” Bunker Roy says. “They are restless and ambitious. They want a certificate, and as soon as they get it, they move to cities looking for work. Grandmothers are not interested in a paper to hang on their walls. They stay in their communities. Also, they have the patience to be great trainers.”

Bunker Roy was selected as one of Time 100, the 100 most influential personalities in the world by TIME Magazine in 2010. He is busy to bring solar power in the rural, remote, non-electrified villages. To electrify a village he trains the villagers so that they can acquire necessary skills to look after their own power system and don’t have to depend on the outsiders from the city.

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$10 Laptop? Really?

I was ecstatic while reading about $10 laptop at International Business Times. After all, this $10 laptop will spread the use of technology and internet to common man . We were going to challenge MIT who developed a laptop at the cost of $100. India showcases low-cost laptop to bridge digital divide

The low-cost device, developed jointly by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Chennai, and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, for the human resource development (HRD) ministry, is aimed at bridging the digital divide and making access to computer literacy affordable to the masses.

I often think that when I want the advice of a grandmother or grandfather or parents, internet often fill the vacuum as far as information is concerned. But what I read today about $10 laptop?
Govt’s much-awaited $10 laptop turns out be a joke

The talk of the “invention” had raised expectations of bridging the technological divide between rural and urban India. Talking to TOI, a Professor from Sri Venkateswara University said (on the condition of anonymity), “How can just a computing device bridge the digital divide and make access to computer literacy affordable to the masses? Where will poor students get computers to jack this gizmo with? Will MHRD provide computers and internet connectivity in rural and remote areas? There is no clarity among the officials themselves,” he said.

I think as long as the HRD Minister Arjun Singh’s image is intact as Social Equality Guru and his party’s “prototype” is unchallenged as “secular”, our image in international community as buffoons (with due apology to buffoons) hardly matters! Jai Ho $10 laptop!

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Five-year old tied and dragged for not attending school!

I don’t have words and strength to add something of my own to this news.

Lucknow: A school principal in Uttar Pradesh was booked on Thursday for tying a five-year-old student with ropes and dragging him for nearly 50 metres for not attending school regularly, an official said.

“An FIR has been registered against the school principal Shamsad Ali for ill-treating the child Alok Gupta, studying in the kindergarten at the Mother Teresa Public School,” said officer in-charge of basic education Awadesh Kumar.

A team was sent to inquire into the incident in which Alok was tied and dragged on Wednesday and was also made to kneel down in front of the school gate for nearly two hours.
The school is in Baghuchaghat village in Deori, about 280 km from here.
According to information available, Alok was unable to attend school due to health problems, Kumar said.
Corporal punishment is banned in schools following the directions of the Supreme Court.

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For the Would be Teachers

Alex has expressed his desire to be a teacher. And a veteran Suvro Chatterjee has some advice for him.

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Thanks for that article from one who has been a teacher by choice for 27 years now, Alka, and best wishes to Alex, who wants to become one. But Alex, especially, be warned:

1) In todays’ milieu, you will have to earn respect the hard way, and that too will be partial (the kids may respect you while the parents may not!), and mixed with a lot of opprobrium and ridicule;
2) You are not very likely to make the kind of money that your talent and your labour deserves – society expects teachers to be poor or at best middle class, while it’s all right for cricketers, filmstars, surgeons and lawyers to be rich;
3) To make things worse, your friends and relatives will call you a fool for having chosen such a ‘bad’ career, so nothing can sustain you except your own convictions and ideals;
4) Most heartrending of all, most of your students will never understand just what you did for them, or will forget quickly, or will take ages to realise and get back to say ‘thank you’!
5) If you want to get rich, you will have to turn your tutorial into a sausage factory, so that all the heart and most of the mind will go out of education, and you will end up selling cram-sheets to allow vast numbers of mediocrities to get through this examination or the other.

Naturally, there are few takers for the career: it’s only the rejects from all other professions who fill up 90% of the posts. What that augurs for any nation’s future is the thought that gives me sleepless nights.

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