For me, yesterday happened to be a day of rather bad physical pain, my back revolted against me for sitting before the computer for 14 hours for days at a stretch. Yesterday was also a day of immense joy as I received a number of messages from my students. Some on the FB, more on WhatsApp. The pain will pass in a few days, but the joy will remain.
I tried to reflect why so many of my students think that I am a good teacher. And I also thought of those who believe I am exactly the opposite. But people are polite, they don't take the trouble to type it out on the Facebook.
Anyway, moving back to the "good teacher", what makes a teacher a good teacher? I would define a good teacher as someone whose influence on his/her students in the classroom is far less significant than their influence on students outside the classroom, in their life. For example, a good teacher doesn't just tell their students what the Newton's Laws of Motion signify. They tell their students to think about them, to understand that the first law and the second are actually the same law, Newton possibly invented the first only to set the context of the second law. Just as language teachers begin with a story or a film clipping before moving on to the topic proper.
And more importantly, a good teacher tells their students to understand what Newton's Laws mean in the context of the universe, how they are related to the solar system, and how they are equally relevant in social sciences too.
And there lies the colossal difference between the English word TEACHER and the Sanskrit GURU.
I am neither pompous nor stupid enough to think that I have been a guru to anyone, but honestly, I have tried. And I will keep trying every time in the future when I stand with a white board behind and eager faces in front of me.
To conclude, let me copy-paste what I have written to one of my wonderful students, Dipayan, who has begun his career in one of the best companies in India.
"... I am sure you will keep climbing up the ladder. All the best, and along with that, be happy at all times ... keep enjoying ... and do give yourself the time to look at the sky, watch birds flying, and the infinite ..."
Thank you, Dear Students.
Bengaluru / 6 September 2016