As a teacher there have been times when I have lost patience and reprimanded my students for their mistakes. Normally they take my outbursts in their stride because they know that I have their welfare in mind. There have been a few times when I have been answered back and I too have been able to understand that the particular student has been under some stress and has thus vented out her frustration. Luckily such occasions have been rare and usually after such an outburst the student becomes more motivated and makes an effort to show a remarkable improvement in her performance. I am particular that students do not copy diagrams from the book but try to draw scientific diagrams of what they actually see and this frustrates them a lot. They have no way out and I do not usually give in. Similarly I do not dictate notes or give them a list of important questions nor do I encourage them to take tuitions. Agreed, I am an outdated teacher – a living fossil - but at least I have enabled a few of my students to think. In the three years they spend with us a fondness sets in and in the final year we are almost friends and in their lighter moments they do share with us information about the nick names they’ve given us and what they find funny about us. The thought that I have to leave all this behind in about 3 years time weighs heavy in my mind. But isn’t it true that good times like bad ones do not last for ever? It is strange that all of us in the department are like minded and the kindred spirit that we share has been passed on to our students too. The job has been a fulfilling one in many ways, though frustrating in a few areas - thanks to the government or rather the lack of it. We do not get bright sparks for students but most are sincere and it definitely pays to be sincere and dedicated. When average students pass out in flying colors we do not need any monetary incentives.
The current batch final year students are a good bunch. So I was surprised that a good many turned up late for a practical class. Even after coming they did not start work and their indifference put me off. I scolded them for being late and said that I’d be taking a viva-voce at the end of the period before giving them their attendance. They worked silently, no smile, no consultations, no doubts….
I wondered if I had over reacted. The entire group was behaving like a set of robots. Finally I got up to ask questions based on the practical. I thought I saw tears in the eyes of a particularly bright student.
“Is anything wrong?” I asked.
“No, ma’am” was the reply.
I then saw that a few others also had tears in their eyes. I felt guilty for having scolded them. These were a group of sincere students and I had scolded them for their first mistake instead of giving them a chance.
“Are you girls upset that I scolded you?” I asked. By now 50% of the class was crying. This was an unexpected reaction. My HOD was watching everything with concern in her eyes.
Finally their story came out in bits and pieces. They had obtained their Part II mark sheets and many had scored less than what they had got in Part I. They were very disappointed and had been upset when they came to class. They were late on account of having to stand in a queue to get their mark sheets and my outburst had only added fuel to fire.
My heart went out to them. I told them that it was better that their Part II results were not as expected. They had a whole year to work hard and improve their scores. A high score may have made them over confident. My HOD added that they needed to be strong and learn to face adverse situations since life was full of surprises. I granted them permission to stop me mid sentence if ever I scolded them and they had a valid explanation to offer. The class then dispersed with their mood sobered and a determination to put in their best in the coming year.