The Financial Express

Teacher extraordinaire  

Neil Ray   | Published: October 06, 2019 22:10:27 | Updated: October 10, 2019 22:17:07

Teacher extraordinaire   

The picture of a college professor delivering a three-hour lecture in a class with the baby of her student strapped to her back became viral last week. It surely was a heart-warming sight to see that the professor had her hands free to write on the whiteboard while the baby was sleeping. No, the lady professor had no intention to draw social media attention, she did it out of compassion, her love for her students. It was an important lecture on anatomy and physiology that the biology professor taught. A mother of three, the professor herself raised her children when she attended her graduate school. Clearly, she was aware of the problem facing student-parents.

On that particular day her student-mother did not find a replacement for the babysitter. As the class was very important, she did not want to miss it as well. But the professor knew how difficult it was to concentrate on lecture and also take note with a baby on her lap. So she wanted to relieve her student of caring for the bay during the entire lecture and volunteered to do the same herself. In African and Asian tribal communities mothers are habituated to carrying babies at their backs while they perform routine works. With her African lineage, the professor took the responsibility of babysitting well beyond the biology class as she told why the prepared milk his mother brought along must be warmed to his body temperature. It helps digestion. Or else, if he was fed cold milk, he would need extra energy for metabolism and anabolism. But a baby needs energy to grow fast.

However, it is not only for the knowledge of anatomy and physiology that the lecture proved very important, it did so from the point of commitment a teacher should have to his or her students. Her perception of the world is exceptional in that she refers to her mother. She says, "I'm so blessed to be raised by a woman who loves the world as much as her own children". She inherits the same spirit to cement her bonding with students. Compare her with many teachers in Bangladesh who are so commercial that they would use the class only for taking rest from their busy coaching schedules. Or, a primary teacher who throws a stick that catches his student's left eye, leaving her permanently blind in that eye. The less said about the monsters who sexually violate their students the better.

The Georgia professor excels when she remarks that an educator's job is to give students the belief in themselves, to trust in their own selves and get it out of themselves. She adds that she also tries to show them that they already have it and must work on it to return back to the world. Indeed, a teacher's job is to inspire students to explore in themselves the potential with which every individual is born. A commercially bent mind would rather take the easy route and ask the student to collect notes from a fellow student or distribute notes prepared for the purpose.

When teachers concentrate only on preparing students to score high in examinations, knowledge suffers. At no point, such a teacher would have referred to the digestive system that works in a baby's small body. Here the professor also touched upon the nervous system's ability to recall. She tells her class that the baby may not understand what she says now. But he can hear everything and when he grows up to attend a class like this, he may surprise himself by telling, "I've heard this before". A teacher extraordinaire, she shows what a teacher should be. Are teachers everywhere ready to take a leaf out of her book?  

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