Through my childhood my mum took me to many Hindustani Classical Music concerts. Because I started learning music when I was just six, I thoroughly relished each experience listening to these great maestros perform. The one observation I did make was that if and when any exponent of music did not have an appreciative audience, he or she was immediately turned off, deflated, irritable, angry even. It wasn’t until I performed myself later at boarding school that I realized why and how true this is. Conversely, if the audience was even a little involved and encouraging, the performance could reach unimaginable heights!
I am on about this because in the four years or so that I’ve been teaching, I’ve realized that it is exactly what I go through in class as well. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Teaching isn’t nearly as selfless as it is made out to be. Sure as an educator I want to be an enabler and impart some wisdom and knowledge that might impact a few students’ lives. But there is a ‘performance’ aspect to this. See just like a musician, a teacher puts immense thought and effort into a lesson. Especially in my case, since I teach Writing, Communication and Identity Enhancement, and do not use ANY text book whatsoever, drawing primarily from my personal and professional experiences or coming up with original and creative tools and methods; when I find that my class is NOT receptive, it is the most off-putting feeling on the planet. Its like “hey, I got better things to do you schmucks!”
But then I have to check myself. Teaching, particularly in the present era is nothing short of a performance. A carefully choreographed concert that HAS to engage and sustain the interest of a generation that has been habituated to instant-entertainment, youtube and the IPL. So then I ask myself, maybe I am doing something wrong. Maybe there’s something lacking in today’s lesson. Maybe I am not being able to connect with my students today.
Every now and again though, there is that one student who invariably spoils the experience for everyone else, students and teacher included. Even so, one powers through it. Sucks it up. And carries on. Because here’s the thing about teaching. If one can impact just ONE life in some small way, all the performance anxiety, the blood and sweat of preparation, the tears of not being appreciated, its all WORTH it!