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  • Purva Grover

Ma'am, did I perform well?

My school-going years was guided by a philosophy that if my teacher didn’t know the answer to a certain question then nobody else possibly did or could. Mum-dad could be wrong, but not Ma'am or Sir. Likewise, the teachers' approval, be it a nod of recognition or a pat on the back, mattered the most; more than marks, certificates, and trophies. All of us go through the phase — the 'my teacher is the best' phase. Now one would assume growing up would bring a change, perhaps not. Yes, while the relationship we share with our lecturers in college and professors in university does undergo a change, but the urge to be in their good books doesn't go away. We never get tired of impressing them, and why not! Until date, I wait for a ‘Very Good’, if not a star, from my teachers.

A couple of months ago, an ex-professor (my favourite!) checked with me if I’d like to speak on digital journalism to the graduating batch (Mass Communication) of Panjab University, Chandigarh. It’s the place where I learnt how to write headlines, love fonts. The session was done via Skype. Whilst it made me realise how years go by and students sit at the same desks and nurture similar dreams, it also made me see my teachers in a different light; I learnt how teachers don’t tire of teaching, of encouraging, of instilling education, of instilling faith. I did well — I think so. The children asked the right questions, seemed impressed with my answers as well. But, for me, it was the smile at the end of the session by Ma’am that mattered the most. It was her pride in my work, my session that was my takeaway from the experience. And just like that, I was the university girl once again – looking forward to my teacher telling me I fared well.

What’s it about the praise that comes from a teacher? I am yet to come up with an answer. But, these words from Stephen Hawking come close to it — When each of us thinks about what we can do in life, chances are, we can do it because of a teacher.

Yes, we’re all growing old and perhaps our teachers aren’t around anymore either. Of course, we’ve learnt how to ridicule adults, teachers in specific — who needs them, when we have Google and YouTube? In this era, does a nod from a teacher hold any value? I will leave you with an incident, which may help you decide. A 40-year-old friend is learning how to play the guitar. These days he is working on a special self-assigned task — to learn and master a special song that he’d play for his Sir on Teacher’s Day in September. Why did I ask? “He’d be so happy when I’d raise my hand and say I want to play for him and the class!” It’s nice not to grow up, right?


This piece was first published in Khaleej Times.


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