You too were a student once.
Back in your day, you would blabber and argue and scream. And run and play and laugh. And think and watch and learn.
You know what? We do it too.
But somewhere, sometime, somehow – something went wrong. Our preceptors were no longer receptive, our instructors were only about the instructions and are mentors became our tormentors. Why?
Two roads diverged in a wood and you took the one NO ONE should have travelled by, and THAT has made all the difference. Let’s take a walk down that road back to where we all started.
Kindergarten – where less is more but even too little may be too late. Depending upon the tender mercies of our parents’ choice of a ‘good’ school, we were either subjected to exhaustive and exhausting sessions of phonetics, what’s-the-good word and the Three Blind Mice or simply left to our own devices, each and every Tiny Tot a veritable Alice in Blunderland. What we would have liked to have was not knowledge but the means to acquire it. We needed you to let us be but not let us go (out of hand). This was the time when we imbibed the traits that would stay with us for life; while we were busy watching the world, it would have been nice to have you keeping a watch over us. After all, our mindless chatter and meaningless drivel were the ‘early observations’ of tomorrow’s thinkers.
School – An entire decade of experiences, experiments and expectations. First things first – your teaching is only a part of our education and as we are not given a choice of what we want to study, we often wantonly choose not to study at all. We question your question papers and answer back when you question our answers – early on, we have realised that the ten years of bookish balderdash you try to stuff into us isn’t going to matter in the long run. Does it really matter whether we know who Nebuchadnezzar was or why the Hanging Gardens of Babylon he built was famous? Babylon is now Iraq and the original Hanging Gardens no longer exist, but we are quite familiar with Kamala Nehru Park, I assure you.
Some of us are slow and steady while the others are blooming child prodigies. Push us to, but not beyond our limits and remember that child prodigies are CHILDren after all. The child you will meet tomorrow will be different from the child you scolded yesterday; we change daily, so give us a second chance every single day. Like you, we make mistakes; admonish the inexcusable but keep in mind that sometimes, no rebuke is the most effective rebuke of all. Corporal punishment is a no-go – please spoil your rod and spare the child.
Barbed tongues are worse than wooden rulers; do not find fault when we falter, for our ignorance need not lead to ignominy. Making mistakes is our way of asking for help. When we get it, we take it. And we learn. But when we don’t, do not punish us repeatedly for making the same mistakes and give us labels like ‘problem child’. Somewhere down the line, we took a wrong turn; all you have to do us is set us back on track.
We come from different homes and backgrounds – not all our families are financially stable and none of us were born with fluent spoken English. Be sensitive – isolating us or favouring those more fortunate makes us withdraw into our shells and sometimes, we never come back out. And by God, we are not our siblings and Parent Teacher Meetings we consider portents of the Apocalypse – treat us as individuals in our own right and do not help our (dis)reputations precede us to other teachers. Let us make our own first impressions.
Nobody learnt nothing by keeping their mouths shut – try to enforce a reasonable amount of law and order, not a curfew. We learn by talking so let us talk nineteen to the dozen. And be careful about the way you talk – consciously or not, we try to emulate your language and mannerisms. Were you to be coarse-mouthed, God forbid what kind of persons we will turn out to be if we were to IMITATE you.
You have longer than anyone else to make a difference in us; just remember that we are all different.
Junior College – Respected Sirs and Madams, please note that you must invest the ‘principal’ of homework and updating to receive the dividends of interest among your students – if you yourself are bored with your subject, how do you expect us to be anything else but? Read our minds and not your notes before you begin a lecture, and stick to teaching our courses, not giving us discourses. Remember that every adolescent seated before you is an Angry Young Man or woman – we are in no mood to listen to your reprimands because it takes us two years to recuperate from the previous ten years of receiving the same.
Tuition teachers – Yes, everyone is running the rat race and it’s each man on his own, but don’t forget that this is when we consolidate our friendships and establish a social circle; do not Divide and Rule by pitting us against each other. Respect interpersonal relationships, in whichever form they may be – these are turbulent years and we need all the support we can get. We are officially young adults – try to treat us as such without bypassing us and involving our parents for every small misdemeanour. If you’d only talk to us as an equal, we will try to come to grips with your problem, along with every other thing going haywire.
College – Lecturers, Assistant Professors, Associate Professors, Professors and Heads of Department; please leave your egos and personal problems at home. Our respect is to be earned, not demanded, and is received only when reciprocated. Just like you, we are competent – those of you who are foolish enough to make the foolhardy decision that we are fools are only fooling yourselves. Marks are not directly proportional to knowledge so be corrective but not corrosive while guiding us. We often bump into you off campus; keep in mind that our personal lives and preferences are no business of yours. Medicine is a profession where doctors teach doctors – every time you embarrass me, remember that you are embarrassing a future colleague. And what goes around, comes around.
An EDUCATIONIST is the rightful inhabitant of a place of learning i.e. a U CAN DO IT SITE. You must know how to motivate us, so that when we make it big, it would be because you would inspire, and not in-spite-of-‘er. Temperance is the key to prevent your pupil from heading from an institute to an ‘institution’. You are our masters and we are your masterpieces. Don’t ever do to us what you wouldn’t have wanted done to yourselves……..but I think you know what I mean.
After all, you too were a student once.
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Note: I’ve been repeatedly fortunate enough to have the most amazing teachers. Once again this was gleaned mostly from observation, not experience.