Introduction A teacher is the most important person in our student lives. He could be a mentor for us, he could be a role model for us, maybe a well-wisher for us, he could be an elderly figure to us, could be a person to whom time to time we approach to seek help and guidance, and all other such things that we all see or like to see in our teachers. There are some teachers whose memory remains in our mind firmly and deeply and we never forget them due to their outstanding teaching quality or other personality traits. Then there are a few with whom we personally interacted, had helped us, and motivated us in our life to attain our career objectives. It is amazing to see that how a teacher can change the life of a student.
Joining my class XI When I did high school and took admission in Class XI then I had chosen Physics, Chemistry, and Maths as my main subjects. This narration pertains to about 50 years back and during that time teachers used to be very strict and wanted discipline in the class. They did not tolerate any nuisance from the students' side and did not allow them to talk loudly or even to make noise during the teaching session. Students knew this well and tried to keep good behaviour in the classroom as well as on the school campus. The parents were also aware of that fact and kept quiet on those occasions when their child got beatings by the teacher.
The Mathematics teacher Our classes started and then one by one we came to know about new teachers. They were very cordial and well-mannered but tough in their nature when it came to discipline. The Mathematics teacher was particularly very tough and strict. The first day when he entered the class he just scanned the students one by one with his deep and piercing eyes and just by that only there was pin-drop silence in the class. I was also feeling a bit uncomfortable. This guy looked too strict and too strong and he would be there for the next two years, each day coming and taking our class. That first single look really meant something for all of us and when he started to teach we found that he was extraordinarily well prepared in the subject, as well as very clear in what he wanted to teach us and convey to us.
Only after 3-4 minutes he turned back to us staring at all of us in the same shrewd way and asked a related question to one of the students by telling the student with his finger sign that he should stand up and tell the answer. The boy was truly frightened and was probably not knowing the answer and started to fumble and started talking irrelevantly. The teacher slowly inched forward to the boy with a very strange face and reached near him and took one of the ears in his hand and slapped him on one side. The boy was now terrified and the class was at a standstill. There was no movement.
The teacher then returned back to the blackboard and told us that if someone is being asked a question and he doesn't know the answer then he should keep quiet and make a sorry face and that is sufficient but he need not talk irrelevant things. He also told that it was a Mathematics class and Mathematics was not fun and students should be serious to learn Mathematics. He added that those who were not interested in learning maths can change their stream as sufficient time was there to do that.
We all were already much terrorized and feeling very depressed and down by this incident on the very first day. The beating of a student by a teacher was not a new thing at that time but not like this, that on the very first day of our Mathematics class the teacher simply had beaten a boy with such a forceful slap. Actually, we had earlier heard some stories about the Mathematics teacher that he was very strict and he didn't like any misbehaviour from the students and it was a normal thing, so we thought that he must be like other teachers. Our first-day experience in the Mathematics class has shown a different story. He was much more strict than what we heard about him.
Half yearly examination Slowly, our classes went ahead and six months passed, and then our half-yearly exams were held. The exam result in mathematics was very poor as only a handful of students including me passed in it and all others failed miserably. We later came to know that the Mathematics teacher was not only very strict but very hard in allocating the marks.
The classes resumed after the winter break and the mathematics teacher became more strict and vigilant. His frequency of asking questions increased manifold and he was asking particularly tough questions to the students, failing which the students were often punished.
He used to advise the students on one to one basis and used to tell them how they could improve in mathematics. One day when I failed in answering one of his questions, he looked straight into my eyes and told me that I could be a very successful student if I worked hard in Mathematics. The whole class was surprised by his remark. He rarely appreciated any student like that. His words did magic to my ears. I felt so encouraged and motivated. Such a small word of appreciation from my teacher I took it as a challenge to become proficient in Mathematics and from that day onward, I increased my efforts in Mathematics. The hard work brought good results and in my annual exam of class XI, I got a high score of about 80% marks in Mathematics which was relatively very high considering my high school score of 68% in mathematics.
Teacher's advice After the exam, he called all three of the students who were having the highest score of around 80% in Mathematics and told us that we could still do better if we worked harder and we should aim for about 90% in the final board exams. This personal touch made us highly motivated and I personally started respecting my mathematics teacher much more than earlier. He became a role model for me whenever he saw me and looked into my eyes I got a type of energy from him which continuously inspired me for doing better in Mathematics. Though he was a strict and tough teacher he always guided me in the correct direction. He was having an amazing capability of assessing a student.
He was my saviour During the final board exam, while we were appearing for our Mathematics paper, he casually visited our hall. After some time he came to me and whispered in my ear that some students near me were blindly copying whatever I was writing on my answer sheet and if this happens it will be caught as a mass copying case. He advised me to hide my copybook from the other's glances so that such a thing does not happen. After telling this he silently went out of the hall. I was much surprised and also fearful about what he told me and became cautious and alert in the matter. He was really my well-wisher. How he could know about this thing happening in the hall I don't know but he saved me from a great danger lurking over my head.
I got 92% marks in mathematics in my Board exam and was much happy about it. I joined the B.Sc. in Science stream and there also I got more than 90% marks in Mathematics. Today when I look back, I find that my Mathematics teacher was the main motivator behind my success in Mathematics and I have a strong mental bond with him even today in this respect.
After reading this article I remembered an incident that happened in my class when I was studying 10th class. One day our social class was in progress.
Our Social Studies teacher was very serious and strict. He never allowed any student to get diverted from his lesson. In between the class, he asked us whether we knew how to write a promissory note. He asked the students who didn't know how to write to lift his/her hand. Nobody lifted the hands with a fear that he may scold them. Then he asked a student in the 2nd row to explain how to write. He stood up but was not able to tell how to write. The teacher was furious. He asked the student to come to him and slapped him. Then he told all the students that he slapped him not because he couldn't explain how to write but because he did not come out openly when he asked all the students. After that, he asked me to explain. I could explain how it is to be written. Those days teachers were more committed towards their profession and they wanted their students to come up in their lives. Even though they were harsh on the students no parent used to question them. The students also had a fear to tell their parents about the punishments they received as parents were also finding fault with their children only.
Teaching is a noble profession and a good teacher will always try to find out the deficiencies in the students and try to see that they will improve in those areas also.
If the teachers are connecting to the students in many ways, they remain in our memory forever and likewise, the teachers also remember the bright students and try to inquire about them through acquaintances. And there are really caring teachers who would personally help and guide to pursue the right career graph for the bright students so that the high hope of securing a good job is achieved.
Mr Rao and Mr Mohan, thanks for supplementing more inputs for this article and one thing that I would like to say at this juncture is that the relationship between a teacher and a student will only be beneficial to the student when it is from the both sides. If the teacher wants that student should do hard work and progress in his life but the student is not responsive then it doesn't work. At the same time if a student is ambitious but teacher is not coming up to his expectations then also the situation is not good. In my view a good match is required between the two for any positive outcome.