Each of us have our set of favourite teachers and similarly all teachers have their set of favourite students. I say it from my personal experience.
So who do you think is the most influential teacher?
The bell rang and Ms. Alex (name changed) was expected to enter the classroom anytime now.
I was shivering. Shivering with fear. Honestly, I don’t recollect whether it was fear or if there is any name associated with that emotion that I was experiencing.
No. No. I had not committed any mistake. Nor did I do anything wrong. It’s just that I was her ‘pet student’.
I shivered with fear because I was sure that the neatly written pages of my 6th grade Mathematics notebook will shortly get crossed with a red-ink pen, almost tearing off the page or it will be sent flying into the dustbin. None of this because the sums were incorrect or the method was wrong, but because that’s how it has been since I was in grade 3.
I knew all the formulas and I also did almost all the sums correctly unless I was distracted by a harsh shouting and then the name calling, which happened almost every day. That was the intensity of her hatred for me. I am fully aware of how it feels to be constantly insulted, humiliated, discouraged and demotivated at the hands of none other than someone who is supposed to shape up your future. It hurt me more because the same teacher used to treat one of my classmates very very lovingly and was not so harsh with the other students.
Ms. Alex was my mathematics teacher for four consecutive years and had ensured to make me feel completely useless and hopeless. My correct sums and answer sheets were torn right in front of the whole class and I was made fun of while most of the class joined in the laughter riot that she started. More than the visible external marks that were left by the cane stick usage, it was her words and the manner in which she chose to humiliate me again and again, year after year, class after class, that hurt me more.
My fault: My mother was a colleague of Ms. Alex and her best competitor as they had joined the school somewhere around the same time. And Ms. Alex’s daughter too was in my class.
Ms. Alex was so harsh that to avoid a tiff with her, few of the teachers chose to give her daughter an A+ for an essay which was no better than mine. And I would get a B or B+. Of course, those teachers would pacify me separately saying that the marks on papers don’t count in life.
By the time I got rid of this treatment I was in grade 7 and had lost complete interest in the subject, Mathematics. Slowly my interest in other subjects too came down. I used to sit blankly all through my Maths classes in grade 7 and 8 even with a different teacher and it was purely my luck that I managed to pass out because I used to score good marks in all other subjects. The lowest I got in Mathematics was in the finals in grade 8… a 46 out of 100.
In grade 9, Ms. Subramaniam (name changed) accepted me for tuition classes even though I joined in mid-session (sometime in August) and had to cover up a lot. After the first week, she told me,
“You are a quick learner and you pick up real fast. Just a little bit more and you’ll surely shine. I’ll help you. We’ll do it together.“
Those were the first few words of appreciation after years of mental torture and self confinement. It was ecstatic to note that someone truly believed in me.
I put in my 200% with Ms. Subramaniam’s 100% and there I was with a 98 out of 100 in my final exam in grade 9. I’m glad I didn’t prove Ms. Subramaniam wrong.
As usual, Acha did write to me, “Why and where did you lose the two marks?“, but to me I had won the race. The race of running away from myself and from everyone else, because I thought I was useless, hopeless and good-for-nothing.
A big thanks to Ms. Subramaniam for all that she has taught me apart from the Mathematics lessons.
Though the child in me may never be able to forgive Ms. Alex, I must confess that it is because of her that I chose to have Mathematics as a subject till my post-graduation. And I did clear all my Maths papers with distinction. Something that I am not just proud of, but something that makes me feel confident about myself and makes me believe in myself. May be it was because of the treatment from Ms. Alex that I learnt what kindness and humility meant. Or may be I learnt it when I compared her with Ms. Subramaniam. And it is only because of Ms. Alex that I learnt why it is necessary not to shout at kids even if they flunk. It breaks their confidence. There are other ways to improve a child and many other ways to show your discontent without being rude.
It is very essential for a person to learn to be humble and encouraging. More so for a teacher, because it’s not just the children in the classroom but a whole big world out there that gets affected by their behavior/learning.
A teacher can either make or break the future of several generations.
*All images in the post are taken from Google Image Search results.
This post is part of the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts program where the aim is to post at least once a day based on the prompts that they have provided. Today’s prompt is, “Teacher’s pet: Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?”