Thursday, August 4, 2011

Teachers - Are we sculptors or destroyers??????

I was chatting with my best friend a few days back. As we were chatting one of her statement struck me. She told me that it was a teacher who could motivate a student or de-motivate a student. Then she added that we should have reached great heights if it were not for our teachers. I was thinking of that the whole night and I felt that it was very true.

At the time we studied there were just four schools that followed the ICSE curriculum, here in Trivandrum. We studied in one of these schools – an ancient convent school. I hate to think of those days. The snobbish mentality of nuns, the arrogant teachers and most of all, the partiality of nuns and teachers made life miserable in that school. The only good memory of school was the good friends – with whom I lost touch in course of time.

There were many occasions that I have prayed fervently. The only thing I used to ask God was to take Sr. Brida’s life so that we students could be left at peace. She was a nasty nun….. She scorned all Malayalees. I’m not sure from where she hailed – was it Goa or was she an East Indian????? She would cringe in front of Anglo – Indians and foreigners. She was good at remembering our surnames. We were addressed as, “u Nair girl, u Gomez girl, u Pereira girl, u Menon girl” and so on.

She was indeed a devil’s disciple. The only good thing in our school was that we were spared the rod – the main reason was that a little boy in a Jesuit school in Trivandrum had lost his eye sight due to a teacher’s whacking. But Sr. Brida could leash out her tongue in a manner that could directly stab one’s individuality and one’s morale.

In one of my earlier posts,“Deshadaanakikkal Karayarilla”
I had mentioned how this nun harassed me. It was indeed a terrible phase of my life.

One of my uncles bought me two pendent – one of Buddha’s and the other of Nataraja from Madras [present Chennai]. It was made of cast iron and it was normally worn around the neck with a black thread. It was indeed two beautiful pendants. As I was never a religious person I did not mind wearing a Buddha or Nataraja around my neck. Sr. Brida seeing the Buddha’s pendant around my neck screamed, “Sisterrrr, this Catholic girl is wearing all Hindu things around her neck.” She came to the most absurd conclusion that I was having a Hindu boyfriend!!!!!! In a secular country like India, didn’t one have the freedom to do what ever he/she wanted??????
One bad thing about our school was all importance was given only to the brilliant students. The mediocre students were ignored. The Principal and teachers had the false notion that only the brilliant students were good in everything while the others were good for nothing. This notion continues even today in that school!!!!!
There is an instance in that school that has hurt me very much. It was at the time of our ICSE model examination. On that day we had Biology practical. That incident is still vivid in my mind. The question was to cut a tomato horizontally and draw the inside of a tomato. In my nervousness I cut thee tomato vertically and started drawing the picture. Immediately, my Biology teacher came to me and asked me if I read the question. I just looked up at her and then to the board. I realized my mistake. I stopped drawing the picture and went on to do the next experiment. A teacher from the UP section started ‘barking’ (she was literally doing that.) saying that I was good at disobeying the teachers and she was very generous in showering abuses at me. I felt humiliated and I felt I didn’t have to tolerate the humiliation of an UP teacher who didn’t teach me. I just threw down the test-tube holder in my hand which landed on the floor and walked out of the lab much before the exams got over. I could hear teachers saying, “Bold girl, arrogant girl,” and a whole lot of adjectives with that ‘girl’. I went back to my class and cried uncontrollably. The next day the teachers gave us a sent off party. I boycotted it. I failed for all subjects – thanks to their vengeances. What hurt me most were the remarks that were written on my model exam answer scripts. I will not forget what my Biology teacher wrote on my answer script – “continue to be proud, haughty and disobedient, you will do much better!” Every one wrote rude remarks. It definitely demoralized me.
The only person who gave me constant encouragement was our Principal. She used to call me to her office and say, “Xina , you are very intelligent. Why are you not putting in an effort?” Then she could go to say, “You know, Gracy and Rachel are duffers, but they are hardworking, whereas you are intelligent but very lazy.” She was behind me and finally I managed to score decent marks for my ICSE examination. Probably she was the only person who encouraged me in my school days and I am thankful to her for that.
It is very easy for teachers to demoralize students with their words and deeds. Teachers are like sculptors who can mould students in good human beings or they can destroy the lives of students.
This Biology teacher and I worked together after a decade!!!! She was also my daughter’s teacher in the kindergarten!!!!!

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