Collective Failure

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 AMNov (Cinema, Friends, Media, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

Moving his fingers between his hair he said, when i asked him if he had come to give back-papers, “No Sir, i have decided to quit the course,” which made me put my head down with shame.

That night i messaged a few common friends of Mani and me saying Mani deciding to quit the course reflects our collective failure, to which not many did agree. But still i stand my ground. It is a collective failure, as i see it, even now. The decision of Mani not just refelects his negligence and irresponsibility, as many believe, but also our failure to bring him to the college, to create interest in him for the subject. And i see it more as my personal failure for i as his teacher couldnt create the required interest in him to come to the class and continue his education.

It was Einstein who once said that the greatest duty of a teacher is not to impart knowledge but to inspire the students to learn more and create an interest for the subject in the students.

Once while having luch with legendary K.P. Rao, he was passionately speaking about Maths. I told him how Maths, to me, is a “dry” subject. The moment i said so, K.P. Rao Sir laughed out loud, in his usual way, as if mocking at my poverty of knowledge, and said “Its not your mistake but the mistake of your teacher,” and continued his laugh for a while and then said “Usually the teahers of Maths fail to speak about the beauty of Maths. They say two apple plus two apples makes four apples, which is a very dry way of teaching Maths. The beauty of Maths is that two of anything plus two of maything makes it four in quanitity.” Saying so he continued to laugh and i was struck by the beauty of Maths which Sir was speaking of untill then. What my teachers of Maths had failed to do, K.P.Rao Sir had succeeded in. But I had travelled a long way away from Maths to love and get back to Maths. But yes, after that day i have always said “I fail to understand Maths,” and not “I find Maths a very dry subject.”

Often i ask myself if my failure to understand Maths and its beauty is my failure alone? No, i have answered myself always. And today i see Mani’s decision as my own failure as a teacher too. And even if no one agrees with me i believe that one mans failure is a failure of the entire world of that individual. How many are ready to take up the responsibility, is what matters!

Recently after the results of class 12 were announced, senior friend B.M. Basheer who is the editor of Kannada daily Vaartha Bharathi, wrote an editorial saying the poor result in class 12 in the state is also a reflection of the education sysytem. The students have failed, yes. They might have not worked hard, yes. They might be poor in studies, yes. But what is that we have done to help them sail through? But are we ready to take up these responsibility, is the question! If the education department is to take up the respnsibility then it is for sure going to bring a change in the results next year.

A not so good film Armaan (Dir: Aruna Irani) had a scene where Amitabh Bachan, a doctor, standing by a corpse is explaining something to his students. A student laughs and AB goes wild and asks him how could he laugh when a deadbody is lying before him. The student swallowing the laugh says “Sir, we get used to the deadbodies in the long run, isn’t it?” To this AB reacts by saying “I haven’t got used to deadbodies. Everytime i see a deadbody in this hopsital i get a feeling that we have lost a battle.”

May be the patient was brought to the hospital in the worst possible condition, but as a doctotr, how far did we fight to keep him alive? how hard did we try to cure him?- is what AB asks silently. A deadbody, hence to him, reflects tha failure of the doctor too!!!

26 May 2009


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