For the past one month in school, I have become a stricter teacher than what I ever have been . I repeatedly tell the children in my class (often to their dislike) the various ways in which ‘good and smart people’ behave. I have given rewards for positive behavior and consequences for negative behavior , in a bid to condition the kids of my class into what is considered as socially accepted behavior. It is a famous adage that to preach, one has to lead by example and I believe that this applies to a teacher more than anyone else . When you are responsible for the development of 40 odd students who look up to you , it becomes inevitable for you to show them how it is done, be a true leader.
Unfortunately in this exercise , I realized that my ideals ( other people refer to them as idiosyncrasies) are quite opposed to what I expect ( or more of what I am expected, as a teacher) from my students. For instance, I never believe in having a bath in the morning. A bath should be fine anytime of the day as long as it is taken, but according to some people ( read mother) , this is highly indecent. I also never believe that you need to be dressed immaculately and precisely, because in my random opinion, it makes you a rigid person, not open to ideas. I also do not believe you need to sleep at 10 pm in the night and wake up early and study in the morning. I also do not believe that you need to sit in a place quietly, without moving and study without the occasional chit chat with your friend sitting next to you. I don’t believe in organization , and I actually like things disorganized because I find even in chaos , there is a pattern. Many of you might conclude that I have acquired these ideals due to the time I spent in a spoilt environment( read IIT hostel) and might even label these as wrong habits. On the subject of what is right and what is wrong, I would strongly urge you to read this rather absurd post of mine and give it a thought.
So what should I do in such moments of conflict? A parent came to me the other day , and complained about her son not having a bath in the morning before coming to school everyday. She asked me to advise him and correct his ‘indecent’ behavior. I literally chuckled when I heard this. ( The parent assumed I was laughing at the child, luckily and could not see the real reason for my chuckle). I put on a straight face , and told the kid , “You know why I am always energetic and never sleepy. That is because I have a bath everyday in the morning.That is what smart people do, if they want to learn more and not be asleep in class. ” I lied through my teeth. Although I am not proud of it , I am not ashamed of my act either . Three days later, the parent comes to me and thanks me for my advice, which had apparently brought a change in the kids habit. I told this to my mother and she wishes I had a teacher like me. 😛
This is the simple strategy I have adopted in my class and it works to a large extent. If I have to make kids do something , which I don’t agree with , but certain stakeholders do, I simply become a hypocrite and a liar. I simply make them believe that I have done the same thing every single day of my life. I tell a tale so convincing and with such conviction that I find it hard to believe it myself that I don’t agree with the very same principles. The words of a famous doctor came to my mind:
Let us face it. Everyone is a hypocrite, in one way or the other. Why not out it to use to effect what is considered by many positive change in kids , so that they can lead what is considered by many as a better life. Leading by example is too tough and sometimes in contradiction to the values that I developed , that I cherish, that I do not want to give up. Hypocrisy is the only solution to my problem . All that I need is to be careful enough to hide my real principles away. Not a difficult job for a hypocrite.