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Do Teachers Make The Taught, Or Is It The Other Way Around?

05/09/2016 11:45 AM IST | Updated 05/09/2016 2:34 PM IST
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"Does the teacher make the taught or do the taught make the teacher?"

I was fresh out of grad school and intended to be a model teacher. Little did I know that being a teacher was as much about learning as it was teaching.

I walked into the final year undergrad class, aware of some facts: I was to teach them refrigeration and air-conditioning; they wouldn't give me much credit in the beginning; the first few lectures would be spent in sizing me up. One of the good things about being a young teacher, I feel, is that you can connect with the students. Their being judgmental reminded me of my own feelings a couple of years back. I could only smile, completely aware of the dynamics of their mind.

As a student, if I did not like a topic I simply skipped it, but I couldn't do that as a teacher.

The first few days passed quietly without much activity on their part -- they were still in their judgment stage. A few days later they started shooting questions. Well, at least they believed that I could answer them! It was an amazing experience to see the mistakes that I made as a student, my doubts and things that gave me a thrill, stare at me through someone else. Bunking classes, begging the teacher to leave you earlier, asking for hints in assignment sheets and so on; all these confronted me once again. All I could do was shake my head.

Sometimes I did get cross: these were times when there was an exam the next day and the students came asking for the course syllabus, when in the examination hall someone asked a doubt that indicated their ultra-low attention level in the class, or I was teaching and they would keep filtering into the class one by one, making random excuses like, "There was no food in the mess and I was really, really hungry" or "My roommate lost the keys of our room." However, after the mini-judgment day would be over and I was in my room, I would find myself amused. As I set the question paper, I would be sorely tempted to twist the questions but then I would recall my poor self, studying for an exam diligently through the night and I would take pity on them. To be just, I would include a couple of questions to be solved only by the elite students. Next day in the exam I would find most of the students running their fingers through their hair in great agitation, fidgeting in their chairs and then looking around. When they would find me looking at them, they would wear the classic "oops I am caught" expression and smile.

So, does the teacher make the taught or do the taught make the teacher? If you ask me, a circle has no end.

Being a teacher gave me an opportunity to learn things anew and see the same laws and theories from different perspectives over and over again. It made me grow, both as a seeker of knowledge and a person. As a student, if I did not like a topic I simply skipped it, but I couldn't do that as a teacher. I felt a heightened sense of responsibility. With time I realized that there was a lot that I did not know. I had more learning to do. I joined doctoral studies and now again sit on the other side of the table.

So, does the teacher make the taught or do the taught make the teacher?

If you ask me, a circle has no end.

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