Teaching by example

  • Rajan Kapoor, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Sep 04, 2014 10:09 IST

Great teachers are brilliant motivators. Like a strong wind, their motivating words blow away the mind's shackles, give wings to fledgling souls, and make the weakest shed their weakness to achieve the heights they think are beyond reach.

I was lucky to be taught by a great motivator. One day, in the second-year Bachelor of Arts course at DAV College, Amritsar, Professor Oberoi, was teaching us the deep meaning of Emily Dickinson poem "Success is counted sweetest" when a peon came to him with an urgent notice. After reading it, the signs of stress appeared on his face.

Curious to know what had made him tense, I asked Professor Oberoi to tell us what the message was. In a choking voice, he shared the news with the class. A student of our college had received head injuries that could be fatal. His condition was critical and he needed several units of blood of a rare type. Professor Oberoi made an appeal to those who had that blood group to come forward and save a precious life. Nobody volunteered. There was absolute silence in the class.

Sensing defeat, he changed his track. He asked his students to use the words "success" and "great" in sentences of own. The atmosphere became academic again and the stress built up by the notice was lost. All the students finished the exercise fast and showed the work to Professor Oberoi.

Unimpressed with the sentences the class had formed, he gave us a chance to rewrite.

The class made another attempt. Again, Professor Oberoi was dissatisfied. He told the class that the sentences we had written lacked depth and our ideas were impractical. Hurt by the observation, a student requested him to give the class some examples of sentences that had depth and practicality. The professor was waiting for this opportunity. He framed two sentences: "A great person is the one who lives and dies for others." and "Success means making the lives of those in distress cheerful." The message was clear.

Suddenly, I stood up and told him I would like to donate blood. Quickly, I was taken to the hospital along with some other donors, and together we saved a valuable life. The next day, when I stepped into the class, Professor Oberoi game me a rousing reception and presented me with a bouquet of gifts and a certificate. I thanked my favourite teacher and told him I owed the prize to his motivational sentences alone.

I salute my motivator, and may his inspiration remain till my last breath.

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