7 October 2009

The First Lecture

To Devna Soni. I will always be your Faccha.

The professor stared silently at the classroom door. Years earlier he had been on the other side of the door waiting for his first college lecture to start. Never did he realise, until now of course, that the feeling would be far weirder and worse than it was then. This was going to be embarrassing, he thought.

He opened the classroom doors and saw a group of nearly 70 students. All of them, all 70 of them, turned their heads into his direction. They placed themselves on their benches and everything was at peace. The professor gulped and walked towards the teachers table.

“Good Morning. I am Mr. X and I am going to teach you Microeconomics for this Semester,” he said.

Everyone in the first row wrote down his name and subject. Mr. X was still freaked out. He continued.

“You will find your syllabus in the brochure that you received at the time of your admission. It is largely the same course that you’ve studied in school, just in greater detail. Are there any questions?”

Not a soul in the classroom said anything. Mr. X’s hands and feet went cold. He feared this only, lack of matter in his opening lecture. But then suddenly something happened.

“In the circles of education, there is something called the Last Lecture. Every professor before his retirement is informed about his Last Lecture. In that final lecture, the teacher sums up his life, what he has learnt and conveys whatever he wishes to tell his students. It is like a dying man’s message. A final message that will alter their thinking or at least so is the aim.”

“But what has been extremely less talked about or perhaps never has been, is The First Lecture. Every teacher has a first class, and no one knows what to say. Everyone just ends up talking about the subject they teach and then to kill time, tell a class of over 50 to introduce themselves. What I think is that, the last lecture should in fact be the first. It is because the earlier you confuse young minds the better it is.”

“I might sound like a fool, but listen carefully. The older you get, the more adjusted your mind is to the world. And that is exactly what some people want—the continuation of status quo. But if you are exposed to various thoughts, to various life experiences and to varied teachings, it is then that you are confused, and it is only now that you make an informed choice. The ideal market is that of perfect competition”

He stopped and took a close look at the class. Some seemed interested, some seemed bored and the first row was still taking notes, as if this was going to be questioned on.

“What I have learnt and what I know of this Subject is what I am going to transfer to you. But I feel the duty of a teacher goes far beyond that. During my education, I have had many teachers. Definitely more than a 100. But there are only a few that I remember today. It is to those few that I feel truly indebted. And that is because they taught me how to live life. They told me about their mistakes, so that I don’t commit the same errors. And I am going to tell you those and my own mistakes, so that life is easier for you.”

Mr. X paused.

“However, there is a flip side to that. I may ask you to abstain in a certain situation, but if your consciousness asks for you to do something else, you trash my idea and go ahead with yours. Because that is what students should do. They should question. They should ask. They should fight with the teacher. And most importantly they should experiment. Experiment with new ways of doing things. This is the time of your life. Experiment. Just don’t run to the nearest bar and go drinking, because I told you to experiment new things.”

Laughter. At least they were listening if not comprehending. That acted as a compensation for Mr. X to continue.

“But there are teachers who will never want you to succeed. Because if you outrun them, you should be the teacher and not that ass who taught you. That is the distinction between a good teacher and a true teacher. A true one would always want you to outrun them, because there is nothing more pleasing than a student succeeding.”

“You must understand a teacher faces a hell lot of issues. A very important one of them is what to teach? It is so confusing to answer that. But if your own student outruns you, you at least have the satisfaction that whatever you had, you’ve taught him and that your job is now over. And that you have truly achieved the purpose of a teacher.”

The class smiled. 

“So listen to the advice that I give you. But also experiment with new things. Try out alternate methods of doing things. And eventually leave me behind. Outrun me, and make me the happiest teacher in the world. But in this entire process there is one thing you should never forget and that is Humility. Be humble. Always understand that there are people below you, but at some point, you were there too. So give them respect. And that there will always be people above you. You need to learn from them. So respect them too. Never let your talent take possession of you. Never.”

“I think that is enough for today. I want you all to go through the reading list which is also in the brochure. Oh, are there any questions?”

The class was silent. In the last row a boy thought to himself—Kitna bada Chu hain yeh.
The boy next to him thought---Kitna bada double Chu hain yeh.
The boy next to this one raised his hand.

“Yes,” said Mr X identifying the third boy.

“Sir, why did you decide to become a teacher?” he asked.

Mr. X smiled. He replied.

“Simply put, because I love to give.”

The third boy nodded. The girl sitting next to him thought—Kitna Gay hain.

The third boy thought---Kitna amazing hain.

“Any more questions?” asked Mr. X once again.

No one said anything.

“Well it was nice to meet you guys. See you around.”

Mr. X exited.

And the class was now officially confused.


Vasudha said...

:) :) :)
i luv it! d ending is awesome!

Rohan Chawla said...

--> Vasudha
Thanks. I love the last line!
Acha sun..Thoda zyada Utopian ho gaya tha na beech main?

Vasudha said...

hehe..thora sa..bt it's ok :)

Rohan Chawla said...

Hehe..Thanks! :D

Ahana Datta said...

Its like, LOL

Abhilash said...

Haha...were you the third guy?

sd said...

I wish a teacher actually says that to a class and I am there to witness it ... :)

Rohan Chawla said...

I hope I say it to a class once. No intention of being a teacher though.