My favourite teacher in school

Every student, during his/her school days, is influenced by one or more teachers. Students are influenced by the style, teaching and knowledge of their teachers. Some teachers have such powerful impact in the minds of students that they are unable to forget those teachers throughout their life. In this article, the author pays his respect to his favourite teacher in school.

I was fortunate enough to study in one of the best schools of South Calcutta (Kolkata). I still remember that I attended my first class on 2nd February, 1975. I took admission in class IIIrd and left the school in 1985 after passing my X+II Board examination. During these ten years, I got the opportunity to study under various teachers whose teaching styles were different, but some of them made an indelible impact on my mind. How can I forget Late Mrs Rani Das and Mrs Mukti Banarjee in my primary classes who built a basic foundation of Science and Mathematics? Some incredibly simple formulae taught by Late Rani Das (Rani-di) are still useful in my everyday calculation. Mukti-di taught us how to study Science.

In the senior wing of the school, our Bengali teacher Late Mr. Bhibhuti Nath Gupta (who happened to be a teacher of my father also), our English teacher Mr. Udayan Banerjee, who later joined Oxford University, and Late Mr. Nishith Ray, the most famous Mathematics teacher in South Calcutta at that time, made huge impact on my mind. My love for literature and my higher study in Mathematics are only due to their teaching and mentoring. I also remember our Chemistry teacher Mr. Ajay Kumar Mukherjee, one of our History teachers, Mr. Shishir Mukherjee and our Geography teacher, Mr. Mihir Karan who taught us how to write answers properly in the examination. They also taught us that to get good marks in examination, not only we have to display our knowledge, but also have to hide our ignorance. Throughout my student life which continued till 2010, I followed their advice and managed to get much better marks compared to the level of my preparation.

My favourite teacher

All these teachers impressed me a lot, but how can I forget Late Mr. Gauri Shankar Jyoti, the remarkable History teacher of our school? I think he has moulded my preference. My mother was also a student of History up to Post-Graduation level. My initial attraction towards History came from reading the History books of my mother. But my perception towards the subject of History was totally changed in VIth standard when Late Gauri Shankar Jyoti (we used to address him as GJ) first came to our class. What knowledge! What erudition! Let me share the style of his teaching.

Late GJ was a triple MA. He did his Masters Degrees in Ancient Indian History, Medieval History and Modern Indian History. He was not a conventional teacher. He never bothered about the History syllabus. For example, in our VIIth standard, he came to our class and asked: "What should I teach today?" Students answered that they were supposed to study Samudragupta, one of the greatest Indian kings. GJ started stating that Samudragupta was called the 'Napoleon of India' because of his successes in war and administrative reeforms. Immediately I asked "Sir, Napoleon was born much later than Samudragupta; then why do we call Samudragupta as the Napoleon of India?" He explained that the historians, who gave him this title, were born much later than both. After answering my question, GJ totally forgot about Samudragupta and taught us about Napoleon's war, his victories and his impact on European civilization, the Treaty of Vienna (1815), Napoleonic Code and his failures (this was not included in our syllabus). Young students like me could not even understand the relevance between Samudragupta and Napoleon, which he taught that day. But much later, in 2010, while studying International Relations, I read about Napoleon and only then I fully understood the impact of Napoleon, because of the earlier teaching of Late GJ.

He never used to bother about examination and our performance. His sole aim was to create interest about History in the minds of his students. He explained us that History was a very potent weapon in the hands of the administrators. History can be projected in different manners. The teaching of this great teacher has helped me to develop my interest in History, alternate History and various versions of History. He always encouraged us to question the version of History which was being presented. He taught us that History is a flow of events and every historical event is a consequence of the past action.

This great teacher left the world at a comparatively young age of 50-something. His last days were heart-breaking. GJ was a confirmed bachelor and he used to live with the family of his elder brother. Throughout days and nights, he used to remain engrossed in History books and this habit of this great teacher ultimately caused his demise. In one bleak morning, he was reading his History books in his residence. The maid-servant of the family kept some acid in an unused cup on the table, with which she was supposed to clean the washroom. GJ, engrossed in his History books, thought that his morning tea was served. He took a sip of this strong acid. Immediately he was taken to a hospital, but his internal organs were irrecoverably burnt by the acid. His last days were very painful and beyond my description. After suffering from extreme pain for some days, he died. It happened in 1982, when I was just promoted to class Xth.

Through this article, I pay my respect to this great teacher, who along with my mother, is the reason for developing my interest in History

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