There are two teachers who have left indelible marks in my psyche. They are not my teachers in any traditional sense of the term. They came occupying certain eminent positions in the school where I taught for well over a decade. That school had been taken over by a new management, a religious cult, and these two ladies belonged to the cult.
Together they taught me some of the greatest lessons of life which nobody else could have taught. One of them, an elderly lady with a beatific smile on her attenuated lips, tried to teach me English as soon as she took charge as the manager of the school. She began editing a report I had written for the annual sports day of the school. Every now and then she looked at me contemptuously, without losing her beatific smile, as she massacred my report and gave it quite a shape that I couldn’t ever have. My education under her began that day and the lessons she taught me will stand me in good stead till my last breath.
She had been a primary school teacher all her life apart from being a close aide of a godman in Delhi. The latter position catapulted her into the manager’s chair in my school which had earlier been occupied by far worthier personalities. What the godman wanted, however, was someone who could kill the school slowly. She did it with enviable efficacy within two years.
All the while she gave the impression to everyone that she was doing everything for the welfare of the school. She organised workshops and seminars for teachers as well as students. People perceived as inefficient were sacked without mercy. Criminal charges were framed against those who dared to question her.
The beatific smile never vanished from her attenuated lips whatever she did. In case it threatened to leave her, she assigned charge to her assistant and vanished from the office.
The Assistant was quite a contrast to the beatific smile. She appeared formidable with a physique that towered above all normal people on the campus and a nose that promised to look down upon everyone. She was a self-professed educationist who was a co-founder of a self-financing teacher training college. One of the first things she remarked after taking charge of our school was, “You people are paid much more than me!”
She made us do all kinds of work in order to justify the pay we were taking home. She gave us assignments. Of all sorts. This week’s lesson plans on MS Word. Next week’s on PowerPoint. And the next on MS OneNote. Then Excel. And so on. Overnight we became curriculum developers, test developers, ADHD experts, and even laptop experts.
We learnt to use the laptop given by the new management quite usefully. WiFi connection was provided in school. The Assistant “shot” mails every hour assigning new tasks and homework for the teachers. [‘Shoot’ was her word for sending a mail, very appropriate too.]
We learnt a lot about using a laptop and the internet, so much so that I became a hyperactive blogger.
Before my love for teaching was smothered totally, the school stood in ruins. But I learnt the most in those two years. About life and its peculiar ways especially when religion comes too close. I am sure I will never come across such efficient and effective teachers in my life anymore.
PS. This is written specifically for Indispire Edition 134: The teacher you wish to meet again, at least once. #Teachersday