Our life is a continuous process of learning and growing. We gain knowledge from our parents, teachers and friends as well as from our own life experiences. However, much of the formal learning happens in schools. In our struggle for learning and growing teachers do have an important and lasting influence on our lives. Even without our knowing it, teachers have become the beacon lights that point us in the right direction. They play a decisive role in moulding and shaping the future of those entrusted to their care.
What we learn from teachers in our formative years remains throughout our life. Years ago, a professor gave a unique assignment to his graduate students. They were asked to go to the slums; meet up with 200 boys, between the ages of 12 and 16, and study their background and environment, and predict their chances for the future. The students, after consulting social statistics, talking to the boys, and compiling much data, concluded that 90 per cent of the boys would spend some time in jail.
Twenty-five years later another group of graduate students was given the task of verifying the prediction. They went back to the same area. Some of the boys, now grownups, were still there; a few had died, some had moved away, but they did manage to get in touch with 180 of the original 200. They found that only four of them had been to jail. The researchers wanted to know why these men, who had lived in a place that bred crime, had such a surprisingly good record. And the answer was, well, there was a teacher.
They pressed further, and found that in 75 per cent of the cases it was the influence of the same woman. The researchers went to this teacher, now living in a home for the retired teachers, and asked how she exerted this remarkable influence over those children. Could she cite any reason why these boys should have remembered her? “No,” she said, “no, I really can’t.” And then, thinking back over the years, she said, reminiscing, more to herself than to her questioners: “I loved those boys!”
In the cover story of the September 2017 issue, Professor Sherene Aftab explains in a simple style how teachers love and care for their students and spells out how the students can express their gratitude to their gurus and make their teachers proud. What your teachers want from you is that you become successful and empowered to mentor others, by sharing your knowledge and being a positive influence. When you share your knowledge and experience with others you turn out to be a beacon light. The purpose of education is not only to acquire knowledge but also to be an agent of productive and dynamic change in the society — to be a beacon light!