From book to blackboard

Vaidya Viswanathan | Updated on October 09, 2012 Published on October 09, 2012

Grasping theories of teaching is not the same as taming ‘sharks’ of students.— R. Ragu

We always face a challenge in translating academic knowledge acquired to professional practice. For instance, we can easily pass a theory exam on how to drive a car, but the first time we are behind the wheel, clutch the steering and attempt to embark into live traffic, the experience can be excruciating.

Ask those who study for a Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.) degree about the butterflies that fly in their stomach when they attempt to demonstrate their teaching skills to school or college students as part of the practical. Grasping theories of teaching is one thing but taming unforgiving ‘sharks’ of students who often have a whale of a time in the class feasting on the naiveté and trepidation of the teachers-in-the-making ( breaking?) is altogether a different thing.


As part of such training requirements, students of B. Ed. would visit my school every year for a fortnight or so. Once a history teacher trainee who couldn’t speak English properly kept repeating, “Alexander wenting to war.” While the class chuckled, one incorrigible student had the cheek to interrupt him and suggest, “Sir, can we say, ‘Alexander went to war?’ instead of ‘wenting’?”

The teacher meditated for a moment and responded, “Of course. You can also say like that.” The student replied, “No, Sir. You have to say only like that, and I must vent out our feelings that our school history will have no place for ‘Alexander wenting to war’.” The greenhorn lost his cool and tried taking the student to task, “Sat down immediately, and don’t speech hereafter.” The class slipped into a cackle overdrive, and it was quite a while before the poor apprentice could ‘speech’ again.


Our English teacher, who had an awesome sense of timing, was once seen frantically moving around in the school ground looking for his gold ring which had slipped off his finger. Blissfully unaware of this background, an English apprentice teacher approached him timidly and requested, “Sir, I have to handle a class now. Can you quickly help me out with an example for the usage of ‘helter-skelter’ in a sentence?”

The senior teacher retorted, “I just lost my gold ring, and don’t you see that I am running helter-skelter to locate it? I’m afraid I can’t help you now.” “What, Sir, can you not bail me out with an example?” lamented the tyro.


A mathematics teacher trainee who was explaining maximum and minimum was sharp-witted though. A student requested him for an illustration to throw more light on the subject and the teacher enlightened thus: “These days, the sartorial taste of ladies has changed. They always wear ‘maxi’s presuming that that they wear the maximum possible apparel and even go out shopping with this outfit, but, alas, they hardly realise that ‘maxi’ is just a ‘mini’ — that is, a bare minimum.” The boys who understood the concept with minimum effort applauded rapturously giving the teacher a maximum boost.

Published on October 09, 2012
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