guiding light

To be a guiding light

When a child leaves home for the first time, he or she is handed over to a teacher, and over the next few years, the child transforms into a well-rounded individual under the able guidance of several teachers.

The literal translation of the Sanskrit adage “Mata pita guru deivam,” is “mother, father, teacher, God”. When it comes to how far they go in influencing our lives, teachers are right up there with parents and their role is considered even more significant than that of God. And it seems about right. When a child leaves the warmth of parental protection for the first time, he or she is handed over to the nurturing arms of a teacher. Over the next two decades, the child transforms into a well-rounded individual with his or her own thoughts, ideas and personality under the able guidance of several teachers.

This Teachers’ Day, Soulveda explores the types of teachers most of us have had and how they contributed to what we are today.

The unyielding teacher

Complete and undivided attention was a must during their classes and the assignments they set needed every ounce of concentration and effort you could muster. They may have been responsible for many an all-nighter you pulled, poring over volumes till your eyes burned and feverishly scribbling down equations in your notebook till your fingers hurt. They did not care for your elaborate excuses or your tearful apologies. Perfectionists as they were, they did not let you get away with anything less than your absolute best work. And today, you thank them for it. For where would you be if it weren’t for your ability to push yourself past your comfort zone?

Final year engineering student Chandramouleeswaran shares a similar love-hate relationship with his Computer Science professor, who once made him redo his project report seven times until he got it right. “Though I was indignant at that time, I am glad that the professor relentlessly pushed me. Through all those attempts, I did figure out where I had gone wrong and where I could do better.” Nowadays, Chandramouleeswaran can write a killer project report in no time, and he has his professor to thank.

Their perspectives shaped our thoughts, which in turn shaped our actions that have brought us where we are today. For that and so many other things, we are eternally grateful to them!

The ‘chill’ teacher

They gave the no-nonsense formals and the tight hair buns a pass and were the true epitome of ‘chilled out’. When there was a lull in the lecture hall, they broke off to engage the class in chitchat about the latest hit movie or a post that went viral on Facebook. They pretended to scold you for texting in class in front of the principal, only to wink surreptitiously and drag you aside to say, “Just be careful not to get caught next time, okay?” Homework or project deadlines were slightly more flexible with them, as you knew they would understand a genuine excuse when they heard it. Their laid-back attitude, their ability to hold a class’ attention without having to shout and their general ‘coolness’ may have led to some of you developing a little crush on them. And just the thought of them may bring a smile on your face even today.

Mechanical engineer Balakrishna Bhat remembers such a teacher to this day. “She was our electronics teacher in the 11th grade. Every time we were in the lab, we would start experimenting with some of the components. And often, we ended up setting things on fire. But our teacher rarely reprimanded us; she would brush it off as long as we were learning something new,” he recalls. Such encouragement is the reason the young engineer isn’t afraid to take risks in his job today.

The best friend teacher

Even for the best of us, school or college sometimes became a lonely place. Tiffs with friends, problems at home or sometimes just adolescent angst had us seeking an older confidante who could guide us in the right path. The luckiest of us had a caring teacher who took out the time to be a sounding board and offered valuable life advice. With utmost discretion and sensitivity, they got us out of dark phases and reinstated in us hope for the future. Going through emotional challenges became less of an uphill task with their support.

Taare Zameen Par‘s Ram Shankar Nikumbh is a celluloid example that comes to mind. The way the art teacher took the emotionally-wounded Ishaan Awasthi under his wing, correctly diagnosed his learning disability and helped him overcome it profoundly moved us all. Many of us may have our own teachers who turned heroes during our painful formative years. Without their expert assistance and intervention, we may not have come out so much stronger and wiser.

The one who loved teaching

Their knowledge of their subject was astonishing. They peppered their lectures with fun facts and cool experiments that made us sit up straight and pay attention, not because we had to but because they were just so interesting. They had a knack for breaking down complex subjects into easy-to-understand bits. And we looked forward to their classes, as we knew they always had something exciting planned.

Most of us probably know at least one such teacher who made a boring subject interesting. Ask Priyanka Victor, a copy editor, who thanks her high school economics teacher for her understanding of the concept of demand and supply. “She explained it so well that it’s imprinted in my memory to this day. She was one of those rare teachers who taught for the joy of it and not just to finish the syllabus. No one ever fell asleep in her class, nor was anyone yelled at ever!” she says.

Varied though the teachers’ styles may have been, they all did one thing right–they got through to us. They held our attention and taught us what we needed to be taught. It is through their eyes that we first learned to see the world. Their perspectives shaped our thoughts, which in turn shaped our actions that have brought us where we are today.

For that and so many other things, we are eternally grateful to them!


What is the role of teachers in shaping individuals?

Teachers play a significant role in shaping individuals by providing guidance and knowledge during their formative years.

How do teachers influence students beyond academic knowledge?

Teachers influence students beyond academic knowledge by shaping their perspectives, teaching values, and fostering critical thinking skills.

What is the impact of teachers on students' lives?

Teachers profoundly impact students’ lives as role models, mentors, and sources of inspiration.

How do individuals express gratitude for the influence of teachers?

Individuals express gratitude for the influence of teachers through appreciation, thank-you notes, and by becoming educators themselves.


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