In the case of most students, just one teacher, or one human being cannot have such a drastic impact that their life alters completely because of him/her. But this too can happen in cases where a young person is truly deprived, a slow student with no clue about where his or her life is going, and then suddenly there comes a messiah teacher in their life to show them a path towards a wonderful life they are supposed to live.
The above extreme scenario may also occur if some student is from a family where there is no real support or guidance available from the first teachers, that is, parents. Quite often, parents are unable to provide guidance due to their own lack of education, or else they lack overall resources. In such a case, many if not most teachers, and sometimes even one particular teacher has a power to become a savior for the child and heavily influence a student’s life. In any case, any teacher is better than no teacher.
But overall it is collectively the whole school or college system that molds us or changes us to become what we are. The era in which we are born, our city, the type of school we go to, the importance given by our school or college to values, morals, sports, arts; and then overall syllabus and school board’s curriculum, all these factors together have a slow and gradual impact on us during ten to twelve years of our schooling.
In my beautiful birthplace Chandigarh, the place that had connection to the likes of Sabeer Bhatia and Kalpana Chawla, nowadays there are many wonderful schools but during my school days we had two coveted convents – Sacred Heart High and Carmel Convent High. As a primary school girl I had a secret desire to attend one of these high schools (yes we are charmed by elitist reputation). But the travelling distance was not convenient, well so said my father, and I obeyed.
The result (thankfully) was that I went to a multi-cultural, multi-religious, low-fee government school that nevertheless had a highly academic atmosphere with focus on moral development (not much of religion but values) as well as complete all-round growth. As I recollect now, the morning prayers and assembly time were compulsory for the whole school to attend. This Assembly, supported by good amplifiers and microphones, involved regular readings of ‘Thought for the Day’, ‘The Daily News’ , all kinds of debates and declamations, open discussions on serious issues, followed by the National Anthem and some patriotic or moralistic songs from any of India’s various religions. Back in those days, such assembly times seemed tedious and long drawn out to many students including me – a supposedly good student. But now, I realize the role played by all those non-academic activities in my life.
Surprisingly, this government school had a very strict school uniform policy, to the point of being fussy and we were always expected to be spic and span. Proper ironing of uniform, supplemented by polished shoes, was must as there was a penalty for the rule-breakers. The habits once formed stayed with me or else I would have been much clumsier than I am right now.
So, coming back to analyse as to which specific teacher played a major role in my life, I would say all of my teachers in my inspirational school were just fabulous, and honestly speaking, I was most teachers’ pet. But, for hiring such perfect teachers and for such a perfect running of our school, I give complete credit to the Principal of our school, a very methodical and meticulous lady, total disciplinarian and highly knowledgeable not just in academics but also all forms of music and dance forms that multicultural India has. Our Annual functions were really popular in the whole city.
Growing up in such an environment I too became multi-skilled and always lived an all-round life, in my academic degrees as well as various careers and hobbies. At times I felt that being too all-round can be a deterrent in the path of any student’s main career, esp. during our formative years. But overall, looking at it objectively, esp. now as I’ve left my ambitious youth behind and will (have to) inevitably grow older, I feel by the time I reach the end of my days, I’ll fully and thankfully value this fact that I lived a multi-faceted life. Lived many lives in one life. Experienced many different educational and creative fields in a wide variety of workplaces. Good…because we are not going to come this way again, are we?
But, with all this, there is no denying the fact that our teachers do influence us till eternity, at least their influence reaches our coming generations. Because parents like us, who grow up in such inclusive and egalitarian school environments, have a mind that seeks similar open-minded academic institutes for their off-springs too. And so my son also went to a much sought-after (for right reasons) government school here in Australia, the serial highest performer ever in NSW, the famous James Ruse JRAHS. And for this I give credit to my own school teachers.
The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “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?“