To demonstrate mutual respect, I addressed students using “tapai” and tried to counsel students rather than threaten them but, a week later a group of teacher complained the administration that, “Sushant Sir is pampering the students, if it goes like this, the students will soon stop obeying the rest of the teacher”, and to me saying, “Students are like cattle, they don’t understand language of love so use stick instead.”
At a point, about to be convinced with the teachers, I sat down and reflected on the issue. My conscience questioned me, if a teacher isn’t able to give respect to his students, how will his students be able to reflect that on others? Therefore, I came to a conclusion that a student must be respected and valued as an individual first and a teacher can be one to teach them these. So I ignored words of those complaining teachers.
Next month, I moved on with a new “stunt”, by re-opening the library that was always shabby, with no good collection of books, and visited very rarely by students. Getting the library keys out of those resisting people was difficult, but one day I somehow managed to access keys and books inside the library. I cleaned all books, managed them in proper place and opened it to the students. The next day, I got an overwhelming student response, who were happy to read something beside textbook after a long while.
All of my school teachers believed that books are an important source of knowledge but none of them ventured opening the library. On top of that, they would resist others from doing the same. I had to sacrifice the tiffin for opening the library and the teachers would instead comment, “Hami sanga ta khaja khanu nai hunna ki k ho? K ho chuttai basne?” I was silent.
Every time we try something new, we are bound to be under pressure and then confused about continuing or discontinuing what we are doing. At that moment, confusions and pressure will overwhelm us, but when we know what is right we should wait patiently for the results. Similarly, my investment didn’t go in vain; they started being vivid after few months.
The shy and fearful students felt comfortable with me and felt comfortable to talk to me, which made me easy to motivate the students for a better performance. When some students would do something mischievous and I would be sad, my students would work harder on my subject to make me happy. I needed no stick, my sadness were enough to sadden the students. At the end of the school, one student cried at my arms saying- “Sir, you did a lot for us but few students didn’t understand that love”. I was emotional instantly, my idea to give respect worked.
As for the Library, it helped the students enhance their learning capability and language competency. Many shy students would be open to me in the library and that helped me build a good relationship with them. For me the achievement was when a student survived and fought back after harassment on her. That student would constantly relate her struggle to that of Jhamak Ghimire in Jiwan Kada ki Phool, a book she borrowed from the library. I never thought books would be so powerful to motivate a silent person to a leader.
The teachers were also not the same. They were convinced with the idea of giving respect, but were implementing it in a different way in junior classes. Few months later, a teacher brought a couple of books and handed them to me, expressing his belief of them being better utilized under my supervision. Not just that particular teacher, few more teachers and some social workers supported the library initiative, and my dream to make it a community library and a resource center. The library is though closed now after earthquake, the management is planning to shift it to a bigger hall and resume it soon. Despite the setback, I feel I was successful when a month back one student whom I didn’t taught urged me, “Sir come back to our village soon, the library is all gone crap after you left, lets fix it, we want to read books.”
MBA (Regular), First Sem.
Sushant is a Teach for Nepal alumni.