Published: 05th September 2019
Teachers' Day 2019: Remembering a few teachers who went out of their way to produce noble citizens
Not all good teachers are popular and not all popular teachers are good. But some of them are both. We look at two of them
Not long ago, two incidents touched my heart and made me reflect on how noble teachers can have an everlasting impact on their students and make them noble.
Two years ago, around three hundred students of a government school in Kothamangalam, Tamil Nadu, wrote to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, seeking her intervention to save their teacher who was battling for life due to liver failure and had been admitted to the Government Stanley Medical College & Hospital, Chennai. The ailing teacher was badly in need of a liver transplant. Moved by the students’ petition, the then Chief Minister Jayalalitha instructed the State Health Minister Vijaya Baskar to visit the teacher and take necessary steps to save the life of the teacher. The students prayed day and night so that the teacher could get proper medical assistance, a quality organ for a successful liver transplant and be saved.
What made the students go out of their way to write to the teacher? What special qualities of the teacher endeared him to his students as well as his colleagues? Known for his dedication to the zoology teacher, Mr Ravichandran, was a very inspiring teacher and made the students study with passion. His vision was to inspire his students and mission was to make every student succeed with good marks and prepare at least one student every year to for the medical course. His dedication and commitment bore fruit as five students could seek admission in medical colleges (before NEET was introduced) and all students could pass the public exams.
Not all good teachers are popular and not all popular teachers are good. In the case of Ravichandran, he was good and popular too not only among students but also among his colleagues. It was the teacher’s friendly approach, care and concern for his students, passion for teaching, the tenacity of purpose, and desire to achieve results which made him a noble teacher.
On Tuesday, July 26, 2016, Ravichandran contacted his headteacher Mr Meganathan over the phone and asked him to thank all students who had written to the Chief Minister. He also assured the headteacher that he would be back within two weeks and complete the syllabus and prepare the students for public exams. The news of the inspiring teacher recovering from his illness and his assurance that he would be back to the school to connect with the students and fellow teachers must have made everyone happy. Alas! The great teacher who touched the lives of hundreds of his students passed away the following day. Though Ravichandran has left the world, he still lives in the hearts of hundreds of his students and friends. A noble teacher, indeed!
The second incident happened almost a year ago. It was around 5 pm on 3 September 2015. I went to a bakery near my house to buy some snacks. When I entered the spacious bakery I saw five students of a government school engrossed in a discussion with a bakery staff. Out of curiosity, I watched what was going on. The 11-12-year-old class 6 students were wearing the government school uniform and three of them were barefoot. Their tattered bags, soiled clothes and bare feet demonstrated their impoverished state. The conversation in Tamil between the students and the bakery employees was very unusual but quite absorbing.
A barefoot boy asked one of the employees, “How much does the cake cost?” “A hundred and forty rupees,” the man replied. The student said, “Uncle, we have only 90 rupees but we need this cake. Can we give you the balance tomorrow? We’ll definitely come here tomorrow and give you the balance.” “No, it is not possible. The owner won’t allow me to do so,” replied the worker.
Noticing my presence one of them turned towards me helplessly and smiled at me. His sad but pleasant smile invited me to join their conversation. “Whose birthday are you going to celebrate?” I asked them. One of them replied, “Sir, the cake is not for birthday. It is on Teacher’s Day.” “Really? The Teacher’s Day is celebrated on 5th September. Why do you want to buy a cake today?” “Sir, 5th September is a Saturday. It is a holiday for us. So we are going to celebrate it tomorrow,” the boy responded. “Is it organized by the school?” “No. The celebration is organized by our class for our teacher.” “Wonderful! Who is the teacher?” “Aruna Miss” was the reply in chorus. “Aruna Miss? What sort of a person is she?” “She is a nice person. We all like her. The whole class likes her. She is good….”
Moved by their kind gesture when I told the students that I would pay for the cake the students were very elated. Everyone flashed a broad smile and said “Thanks, uncle”, “Thank you, sir” “Thank you very much, uncle.” In their jubilant mood, they asked the bakery staff to ice the cake with a flower and these words: “Happy Teacher’s Day, Aruna Miss.” The words “Teaching is a noble profession” started ringing in my ears again after a long time. Though Teacher’s Day is celebrated on 5 September, every day is a Teacher’s Day for noble teachers.
Dr Albert P’Rayan is an academic and columnist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org