Why do we do what we do?
“We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do” James Farmer Sr. – “The Great Debaters”
(Note (Wiki link): The Great Debaters is a 2007 film about the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College in Texas who, in 1935, inspired students to form the school’s first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship.
If you haven’t seen that movie, please do. And another one called “Finding Forrester”
Makes sense, I think, to a great extent. Sometimes, the what what we need and want become the same thing. That is joy. That is fruition of a hope, a dream. Sometimes, it is a miracle, especially in this jaded world.
I think of the endless times I’ve cursed where I’m at, especially career-wise, and I wonder what the heck I’m doing here in a world where nothing seems to go down well, from either side of the Teacher’s Table; when kids become aliens and colleagues are no different. Lest I sound defeated, I must assure you this here is just a vent, at the end of a long haul of paper correction combined with a challenging number of marklists to be prepared in the new CCE Format of the CBSE Board. Sibal’s 100 days wala brainchild. It’s good enough, but with the forbidding class strength and the norms to follow, it becomes a nightmare, especially towards the end of the year. It’s also this way because some wonderful workers like me have Procrastination for their worshipful deity.
So, back to my first question. Why am I doing what I do? Apart from the fact that I am ‘trained’ to, (doesn’t that bring that performing trick monkey to mind? ), and I ‘need’ to, for purely survival reasons, I find reasons. I find incentives, and once I’ve had them for a bit, I find it’s hard to give up this sort of thing. (Hrishi is the one who gave me this idea for the title ! Thanks Hrishikesh!)
Inspiration, pure and simple. That’s the first one. Whether it’s your usual sixth standard kid who persistently wants to know your birthday, or amazes you with a fully grammatical and awesomely sensible answer to a complicated question; or a tenth standard student who writes, in a composition ( a bio sketch about a teacher), details that you find are so YOU (:D – it was the ‘active on social networking’ and ‘has dogs’ amongst other details), whether it’s the naughtiest kid in class telling your own child, years later, after finishing school, that the only reason he reads is because I hounded him in class to do so… the way that living asset you deal with inspires you is like nothing else.
Affection. In the form of cards, at Christmas and New Year time (I found out that not every teacher got cards ), little notes at the end of the year, confidences shared, when they are about to leave school, there is so much. You sow very little, you think, till the rich harvest tells you how much you can be proud of… for how they grew themselves up!
And there comes along a child, someone you were so fond of, but tried hard not to be too obvious about so that the others did not pick on him/her and felt that you were partial – who comes up and gives you a note, nervously, on the last day of school, telling you that what she wanted to say was right there… You suddenly feel that ogre-ish is ok too Shrek has seen to that anyway!
At the end of 7th March, when it was officially the last working day for the kids, before they went in for their study holidays, S, from Class VIII came up to me with this letter, shyly
The Leo in me is flattered no end, and the head says this is just something to perhaps make me value her paper a bit generously. The cynic in me says that. But she’s anyway going to cream the paper, I know, being an outstanding student, and at the end of the year, there is no need to tell me anything at all … except good riddance… but this really touched me. Have been waiting to share this from that day. It IS inspiration, incentive and the needing and wanting overlapping, for me.(And yes, I did reply. With a Thank You Card, and a Bookmark Forgot to scan those!)
And that is how I know, the incentives hereabouts in the job profile in very very undefined and inarticulate ways are powerful. I know I’m where I want to be. For now that is enough.
31 March, 2013
Online (And thank you Hrishikesh )