Sunday, January 5, 2014

THE TIME OF MY LIFE IX..A teacher's role

Genuine concern about their welfare and interests can get you a student’s loyalty.  Once my colleague in the physics department and I , took a bunch of junior college students for a picnic. That created a sensation in the staff room.  We were considered heroines for taking such a risk and warned against dire consequences. But we had nothing to worry about. The 45 boys and girls we escorted, behaved themselves and lived up to our faith in them. I remember another incident when I was supervising a preliminary examination of the second year junior college students. There were thirty of them and when the question papers were distributed, we were short of fifteen, this fiasco was repeated in other classrooms and there was pandemonium. Supervisors had to write the questions on the blackboard . I just explained the problem and requested two students to share a question paper. I must appreciate their integrity. They did not misuse their proximity to copy.
Mr. Kundanani, the founder of KC and 14 other educational institutions was the principal. Once, he was going on his rounds and walked into my class. Sanjeev, my student who had been disturbing others, was standing and giving me an explanation .The principal, without knowing the background , asked him to sit down and walked away. The next day, I went to meet  him and handed my resignation . I told him he had undermined my authority in class. While he was the principal of the college, I told him, I was the ‘boss’ in my class.  I must give it to him for taking it well and tearing up my letter .Thereafter, I was one of his favorite lecturers.  I think many teachers are bullied by their principals and vent their frustration on students. A good teacher has the support of students so I concentrated on honing my teaching skills rather than sucking up to the powers that be.
When Srivatsa  was posted on a three year stint in Bangalore, in 1976, I was a part-time lecturer in Vidya Vardaka Sangha, Junior College .Though I had to put in only teaching hours. I stayed back and produced youth programmes for the all India Radio, as part of student activity. The management was appreciative of my commitment and the only reason they did not induct me as full time staff was because I would not stay after college hours for meetings!  They frankly told me that I was great for the students but troublesome for the management. That has been the story of my life all along.
While at KC , also taught short – story writing at the Bombay School of Journalism, in the evenings .  I must share an interesting episode here. I was talking about a writer’s commitment to a reader and illustrated this with an example.  It was of a film showing to packed houses, of a girl who takes revenge on her rapist by shooting him in the courtroom  I felt that the story writer should give preventive solutions rather than drastic ones. The next day , the class looked strange. All the girl students were missing.  The boys said it was because they thought I was anti- woman and condoned the rapist’s action by blaming the woman!  I ignored their baseless charge and went on with my teaching.  Three weeks later, they all trooped back sheepishly and apologized for misjudging me. It seems the boys had shared with them my detailed explanation of my statement .One of the girls, Dilnavaz Shroff, became publisher/editor of Woman Executive Digest (she invited me to be a columnist) . The International Correspondence School had a course in Freelance Journalism for which I was a tutor. This involved assessing answer sheets and giving guidelines to students. It was a rewarding experience as many students would send me clippings of their published work following my suggestions. That is what I like about this profession. Your performance appraisal is the success of your student. I am happy I chose to give up a lucrative bank assignment offer for a humble teacher’s job .