Teacher's day Special


20 of you expressed interest to take IIT JEE coaching from me. 7 of you dropped out by yourself in the last one year. Out of the remaining 13, I feel three of you need to focus more on your school physics. The rest of you can attend my summer vacation classes.

The teacher reads out the names of 3 students.

The 3 students were bitterly disappointed. Their journey towards IIT seemed to have come to an end even before it started.

Sir, please. Give us just one more chance.

Don’t take this personally, boys. This is for your own good. I know your parents have put pressure on you. But IIT JEE is not for everyone. But that does not mean you are lesser humans. It is just that your true vocation lies elsewhere. You should try and find it and pursue it.

Two of them resign themselves and accepting the teacher’s logic move on. One student still sticks his ground. “I want to get into IIT and nothing else. Give me one chance and I will prove it.

Quite a familiar story, isn’t it? However I am not going to tell you next that the boy became American president George Washington or Sanskrit grammarian Panini or anything else. He did score 96% in the next physics exams to win his teacher’s trust, and later get into IIT and all that. But that’s about it. Even this post is not about him. It is about the physics teacher. The only reason the boy found mention is the fact that this piece is being written by the boy. I thought I will break my habit of only writing for contests and instead write for something like teacher’s day for a change and hence this post about my favorite teacher.

Teaching is of course a noble profession and plays a critical role in society. But the sad reality is more often than not people who do not find any other job go to teaching. And same was the case with this teacher. He had failed his university exam and cleared it through arrears. So the only job he could get was that of a teacher in a newly started school that could not even afford a sweeper. In fact every morning he himself had to double up as the sweeper for the physics lab.

From such a humble start, in 25 years he emerged as the most respectable teacher in the whole of the town. His classes were considered the magic wand that could get one a coveted seat at one of the IITs. He could have easily earned a six digit salary if he had chosen to migrate to one of the big cities and joined one of the big coaching institutes. But he still chose to stay back and help the small town students. In spite of having completed a doctorate in Physics he still chose to remain a school teacher and teach at the same school where he started his career 25 years back. Now isn’t that something that requires a standing ovation?

The thing that made him stand apart was his passion for Physics and teaching. His passion was infectious. His eyes shone when he spoke about Einstein and Newton and Maxwell. He made physics seem magical. But usually people excited about the subject matter are not so excited about teaching. But he was one of those rare genuine people person. He liked teaching and he was genuinely interested in each one of his students. One of his famous words was,

A successful teacher does not teach. He makes the students learn.

 That was reflected in his innovation teaching methods as well. He rarely ever solved problems in class. He would teach the concepts and then make the students solve the problems on their own. He would check the approach and gently guide. But he never spoon fed the solution. Also when he taught in class he would never allow students to blindly copy what he said or wrote on the blackboard. Instead he would give a dedicated 10 minutes towards the end of the class after rubbing everything on the board for the students to reflect on what was taught in the class and make notes in their own way. That way it was ensured things went straight into the head in class itself.

In a world where teachers did not teach in class and made students attend tuition even for school syllabus, he discouraged school students from joining even his IIT JEE classes. He kept his IIT JEE classes for students of other schools and told the students of his school that he was anyways covering all the concepts in class itself. Instead he helped students only on incremental concepts that were not part of school syllabus and by giving clues when students were stuck somewhere while solving tougher IIT JEE problems. This he did without any fees. But he could not accommodate everyone here as he had limited time and would not be able to give personal attention to all. So he usually tried to weed out students who had neither the aptitude nor interest in Physics, but were just preparing for IIT JEE under parental pressure. It was good for the students too as they could employ their effort more productively in areas that would bring them better results.

The other important aspect of him was his humanity. Many teachers tend to get drunk in the authority their position gives them over the students. They either bully the students or try to act as if they are the most intelligent people on earth forgetting that the only reason they appear more knowledgeable than the students is their age. But this man was most humble and very considerate with the students. He openly told the students that he had failed his university exams and the students respected him all the more for it. He never used a single harsh word. If people slept in his class, he would gently walk up to the student and remark to the rest of the class,

 “See how peacefully he sleeps free from all worries. One must be lucky to get such good sleep.” 

If someone were caught talking during his lectures he would remark,

 “I hope you were discussing Physics. Please share your insights with the rest of the class.” 

 He always used to remark how he was learning every year along with the students.

This post of mine is a dedication on the occasion of teacher’s day to Dr. Rajagopal, who has helped a whole generation of students from Trichy to make it to IIT. I am a day late but I guess better late than never.

Picture Credit: http://newspaper.li/teacher/

32 comments:

jaish_vats said...

Seems to be a gem of a man, TF. A very nice write up and a great dedication....There are but a few teachers in the true sense of the word and they dont create students, they create fans and followers for life!

Diwakar Narayan said...

Good post TF.. I too wanted to write a post for it, but missed it.

akanksha said...

What a wonderful tribute! :)
Nice to read something which is more about you than the contests! Posts like this one, are becoming rarer by the day, so Glad you took out the time to write this one :)

The Fool said...

Thnaks Jaishree. Such teachers are rare. We should all write about those few and pay our tribute to them.

The Fool said...

Thanks, Diwakar. Even I wrote late only. Better to write now than wait one more year, isn't it?

The Fool said...

Thanks Akansha. Glad you liked it. If readers like you encourage these kind of posts, more of them will come up. Otherwise contests get more reciprocal traffic.

Gayathri said...

This is a beautiful post it is really rare to find such teachers these days.. Most of them are money minded and they see teaching as just another profession! But I think teaching is something more than that, it is a beautiful art you must master to perfection :) I loved to read your own experience hi-5 to your teacher ! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog! :)

Subhorup Dasgupta said...

Loved it, TF. Nature tends to balance things out, and in the case of education and teachers, the "glory days" of guru-shishya or mentor-disciple relationships seems to have been balanced out by the more commercial approach to learning that we are seeing now. It is inevitable that teachers like Mr. Rajagopal will emerge to balance this trend out too.

umashankar said...

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुर्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः ।
गुरुरेव परं ब्रह्म तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥

I humbly bow to the teacher who seems to be more of a saint but actually is what a teacher should be. We just have to look around us to see how rare this species has become. It is a heartfelt tribute, resplendent with reverence for the great man.

Pattu Raj said...

We cannot forgot those teachers , who instilled the confidence, who made us understand a subject.

It is decades since I last met them, but I remember each one, who made my life.

Lovely post.

The Fool said...

Thanks Gayathri.Glad you like reading about the great man.

The Fool said...

Thanks, Subhorup. True. However good a system is, bad apples will emerge and however bad a system is, some good people will emerge.

The Fool said...

Glad you liked the tribute, umashankar.

Sabyasachi Patra said...

Wonderful. You have described it so well, that I take a bow in the name of your teacher Mr. Rajagopal. The role of a teacher in making a career of his students is phenomenal.

The Fool said...

Thanks, Pattu Raj. It is a decade and a half since I met this particular teacher too.

The Fool said...

Thanks Sabyasachi. He is indeed worth whatever I have written and more.

ghanchakkar said...

Interesting post. Kudos to that boy for his dedication and showing belief in his teacher. I completely agree with your point that teaching profession has changed a lot and people choose teaching when they didn't get into god jobs which is a sad part.
Hats off to your teacher who has motivated many students. :)

The Fool said...

Thanks, ghan.

Vijay Shenoy said...

Good one... enjoyed reading your blog post... keep them coming
Minds Eye Of Life

TTT said...

A great tribute TF .... How many of us remember our teachers once out of school / college? Most of us definitely have a teacher who helped us in one way or the other ...

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Vijay.

The Fool said...

Thanks TTT. So true. But most teachers are not worth remembering. But possibly every year there would have been one teacher who is really worth it and we must remember them. I am thinking of doing something like this every teacher's day.

indu chhibber said...

You really had an excellent teacher there TF.He actually taught & did not lead his students to just memorize the facts.
One correction-if i may-today those who have no other outlet just jump into the cesspool of politics.

Zephyr said...

It is very very rare to find such teachers today. They are so busy making money on tuition that they would not spend so much effort to make the students 'learn'. you were blessed to have someone like him. A great tribute to a wonderful teacher.

N.S.Kirti said...

A great tribute for your teacher TF. It is really heart warming to read something like this!
nice to see you taking a break from contests :)

The Fool said...

Glad you like my tribute, Indu.As they say politics is the last resort of scoundrels, eh? But not everyone can become politicians also, eh? As they say there are those who can do, those who can't so teach.

The Fool said...

Thanks Zephyr. Glad to see you here. I was thinking if there is one kind of post that induce you to comment on my blog, this should be the one.

The Fool said...

Thanks, kirti. Glad everyone got to know about and like this great man. He will never know about this post though. He even forgets his students after they get into IIT.

C. Suresh said...

Grand dedication that TF! And, yes, it is time we reverted to respecting the dedicated teachers for being teachers rather than clubbing them together with the rest and respecting only their bank balance :)

The Fool said...

Thanks CS. But such things are rare in real world.

amit ganguly said...

Dedicated to the Teachers who shape our future,its a wonderful post indeed. Good work.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Amit.

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