Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Tough Task-Master

                                 The goal is farther yet!

Just when I thought I knew the answer to “myself”, I did things which made me all the confused. Have I done anything diabolic or severe? Not really. But it somehow feels like having revealed more than I could afford to. Not that I have shared somebody else’s secrets. What I talked about was no secret about me as well.

And sometimes I wonder if I am too hard on myself. I remember having read as a child in Alice in Wonderland that Alice used to scold herself, and accepting with surprise that I did the same thing as well. I still do. I scold myself whenever I falter even the slightest. I am strict and hard on myself, may be because I expect a lot from myself. I can’t forgive the mistakes which I know will affect me adversely in the future. It may be something as silly and apparently harmless as talking too much on one fine day when the work load is light. Like today. But I am constantly chiding my own self that I should have restrained my impulses.

And then, I am the one who acts almost always on whims and impulses. I am famous for being quick and impulsive with my friends and family members. I have taken a detour to my work place even though the straight road would have taken me half the time. I have got flowers for my mother on a plain day, without any reason. I have got a drastic haircut just because I felt like. I have cooked experimental food with no prior preparation and liked the whole idea.

And the same me is such a tough task master. And this is not only with me. Even with my students, I push them towards perfection as much as I can. Some respond quickly, some ask for help, some try to improve, and some are the least bothered. It’s not that I am a stern impersonal perfectionist. It’s just that I am not happy with anything but the best. If I am not getting the best, I try to work with the second-best and bring it up in quality. If I can’t be the best, I will at least be different. And I try to make my kids (I refer to my students as “my kids”, even though they are very typical teenagers) understand that getting full marks is not the goal. Knowing what you are writing and trying to add to it is becoming different. And though the position of “first” or “best” is temporal, as every time there is an exam, there will be a new topper, the ones who try differently will find satisfaction.

And this habit of mine makes me a natural non-favourite among the students who have the tendency towards “hall-collection” or “taking help” during examinations. It’s hard to make them understand when all that the parents are concerned about is their grades or ranks or marks, that “what” you get is far less important than “how” you get it. The satisfaction of knowing that each right answer and its marks belong to exclusively you, goes far deeper than the instant joy of getting high marks.

What keeps me going even in this position-oriented system is the enthusiasm and appreciation of my kids who understand the value of being better than what they were. They tell me every time they have achieved something – may be just writing a whole essay without anybody’s help, or explaining a passage in the class comprehending the meaning by themselves – that had I not pushed them harder, they wouldn’t have tried to make themselves better.

And may be this constant reminder that trying-to-be-better is not a crime still makes me hard on my own faults as well even though I take a break every now and then. Just like I play quiz or games with my kids once in a while to keep them energized in this mechanical world.

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