For, Life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday.”
- KAHLIL GIBRAN
In my school days, there were two kinds of teachers.
The first kind was the majority: They were too
strict… quick to react on our mistakes and indiscipline… They punished us for the
smallest of the smallest things even… Threw us out of the class, sent us frequently
to the Head Master’s room… They regularly packed us back home, summoned our
parents… And yes, they even thrashed us black and blue (and got away with it
easily in those days).
The other kind was the minority: They were more
tolerant towards our ‘sins’… tried to change us by constant counseling, trust, patience
and foresight… Yes, they did lose their patience, did shout and scream at us…
but, that was not to ‘punish’ us, but to ‘change’ us, help us see our mistakes and
make quick amends… They seldom reported our blunders to the Head Master, never
threw us out or sent us back home… Parents were not involved, and never, ever
did they raise their hands on us.
Now, I hear some of you reminding
me of the old advice: “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Also, prompting me
with: “Laaton ke bhoot baaton se nahi maante."
Agreed, sir. But, what I remember about my own
childhood is this: the teachers, who spared the rod in my case, did not spoil
me… Instead, they helped me become a very sensitive, very compassionate soul in
this world. And, they did this, too: As a teacher, try to help kids to change
in the same fashion – with loads and loads of love, trust, patience, faith,
example, kind words, and, yes, being firm and strict, as well.
The argument put before me is this: The teachers who
punish – the first kind – too, do it with the same objective in mind… that,
through their ‘harsh’ way, the hardened students change.
My counter argument is this: Students are students as
we were in our own days… All of us were not ‘hardened’ and we never deserved
the kind of punishment meted out at us… As parents did, we expected our
teachers, too, to be supremely patient and forgiving towards us, be more tolerant,
be more trusting and kind… We expected them to give us another chance… then one
more, then one more… and one more…
Remember Virus in ‘3-Idiots’? Remember the young-man who hanged himself
in his hostel room… and, the song he strummed before ending his life:
Give me some sunshine Give me some
rain Give me
another chance I wanna
grow up once again…
Yes, do you remember this song?
The other day, Iwas talking to one of my friends, who was a teacher,
too. He had just punished two of his students for frequent bunking. Obviously,
he had warned them before. One of the parents had chosen to take away his
young-one. He had no issue. The other parent was pleading for ‘another chance’,
and my friend was too adamant – ‘It is ‘NO’.
“It is too much… stretching discipline too far…. It
is against the holistic way of raising our young-ones. If teachers don’t forgive,
who will?” I tried to reason out with my teacher-friend. He had two
school-going children. “My friend, today it is your students, tomorrow it will
be your own children… Forgive your erring young-student at least for your own
My friend was furious. He shot back: “If ‘my’ children
do such mistakes, I will throw them out of my house.”
I shut my mouth, immediately… And, said a small
prayer in my heart!