In today’s education system, we believe in holistic development of a child, yet number/grades still remain as the yardstick for comparison between students. Not only peers, even teachers do not give proper attention towards an academically weak students, no matter how good they are in extracurricular activities. This often leads to inferiority complex. They start keeping themselves isolated, remain aloof and bear a pessimistic approach towards everything. In my last ten years of teaching career, amidst various experiences that were good, humorous, irritating and so on, one incident made me believe in G.B. Shaw‘s saying ”Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
In 2013, in class 9, I had a back bencher, excluded from the entire class, friendless, submissive and soundless. The results of the first exam gave me a bit of hint about his uncanny attitude.
On one of the occasions my students had collected Rs. 1200/- and kept the money in one of the student’s school bag and left for the games period. After their games period, the student came to know that the money was missing. After lot of interaction with each student, I came to know that only one student was in the class when other students had gone for sports but neither the students nor I doubted this child. But something troubled me and thus I decided to enquire. When I questioned him, he very politely answered that as he was not feeling well, he stayed back. His answer wasn’t too satisfactory. On checking his bag, I got the answer. To my astonishment the money was there!
My usual nature made me take little more effort to know the reason behind this act. I called him personally and told him that I will give him the option of either speaking the truth or exposing the fact to the higher authorities. After few meetings, I gained his confidence, convinced him that I was there with him which broke the ice between us. He admitted that he was so upset with the behavior of his classmates that he wanted to retaliate by harassing them. He also admitted that he had been stealing their money for the last few months. But he also said that he had realized his mistake. Later he assured he would not to repeat and gave back the money he had taken.
Very soon I could see some positive changes in him. He felt happy that I did not make the incident a big issue, as promised, which gave him confidence to share his problems with me. Slowly but steadily a rapport was built between us. I could see that lost soul was able to find some respite. I was sure the little difference that I had made was negligible. Nevertheless, I continued with my efforts whenever I looked into his seeking eyes.
My endeavor bore fruit when he came and gave a card thanking me as he was leaving the school. It not only gave me immense pleasure but also boosted my morale. It strengthen my conviction that we only live once but if we do it right, once is enough.