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OP-ED: My philosopher, my psychologist

  • Published at 01:14 am October 9th, 2021
Misunderstanding teachers

Our teachers aren’t listening to us

I have had many out-of-institution teachers in my life who have taught life to me, and I think I have always admired them more than I did my institutional teachers who taught me to become a clerk, who keep on gyring on a nine-to-five wheel with no time for him/herself.

Learning life is a bigger objective for me than learning how to earn the living -- I mean the money to buy life.

Everybody earns the dough. The corrupt, the child labourer, the street beggar, the day labourer, the clerk, the bureaucrat, the businessperson, the minister, and the top minister -- everyone. Who doesn’t? We all do, no matter what we all do as a living.

But life? Who’d teach me life? Living -- just living -- is not life to me. Life is something bigger than just living life. Living, for me, more than earning money, has to have a higher meaning of life. 

Who’d teach me that?

I’d love to think of my teacher, from the school level to the university -- both who have taught me outside the classroom and those who taught me to become a clerk. I didn’t mind; I needed the dough to feed me as well as my family.

There were a few teachers, along my way, who, knowingly or unknowingly, tried their best to instil some philosophy into me. After all these years, when I recollect their memories, it becomes clear to me -- they were trying to teach life to me, us. I’ve preserved my respect for them more than I’ve done for those who taught me how to earn a living.

The bell I’m trying to ring in this piece is that I expect my teachers, all of them, to teach philosophy to me. The philosophy of, in fact, everything that leads me to inside me, my soul, my worth, my courage, my abilities, and not to mention my weaknesses. I will then discover, on my own, how to earn my living.

In our childhood, our teachers were still rendering their knowledge about life to us, but as the society, slowly but surely, were being clasped with the consciousness of only earning, they lost interest in teaching life. They started to teach living.

Sadly, there was nobody to look after how they live their life, what they eat, what their children eat, how they survive in a slowly emerging corporate era. They became machines to create managers for the national economy for higher growth in gross domestic product.

The trend continues now -- more than ever. No teacher, today, philosophizes on a cause that would lead me to search for a meaning of life.

I accept that; their collective decision in shying back. It’s not because they forgot philosophy, but they understand that the society now doesn’t need philosophy. It’s on a wealth-creation spree.

Our teachers, as I have read as well as heard stories from my elder-generation, once upon a time, were close to their students’ hearts. They tried to understand the students’ minds, their thoughts. They, the educators, at that time, were great listeners. They allowed their pupils to harbour their thoughts to their teachers.

At the age of 12, I left my mum, dad, and the siblings for a new educational institution. It was a residential school and we, almost for 24 hours, were surrounded by teachers. Unfortunately, most of them were clueless on the thinking process of a bunch of children who were growing up in a parentless environment.

Paying attention to human psychology was the last thing the administration cared for; what mattered was that they wanted to create a new type of human out of a child. The teachers were the alternative to the children’s parents in that atmosphere, but they weren’t listening to the children. The administration dictated the teachers not to listen to the children’s hearts; rather they must create a new heart for each and every one of them.

So, I, along with many other co-students, was reborn with a new heart, a heart that was destined to become a top-class clerk -- the best in town. I forgot to open up to them and kept all human elements bottled up. At that time, I had a constant question in my mind: “Why can’t our teachers understand us?”

When I graduated from that school, I was surprised to discover that my school wasn’t the only one; all other schools were suffering from a similar situation.

Our teachers weren’t listening to us. They still aren’t.

That’s why Thhakur said a long time ago: “The world is my school and I am a pupil of everybody.”

He was looking for knowledge elsewhere -- outside his classrooms. And he was listening to the millions of hearts out there.   

Ekram Kabir is a story-teller, a yogi, and a communications professional. If you want to connect with him, he’s just an email away: [email protected].

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