There is a simple condition for becoming a teacher: that you must be able to teach. It is not the question of having high intelligence, but of being able to use whatever intelligence you have so as to impart at least some portion of your knowledge. Anyone with this ability can come to teaching and become successful in course of time. What matters is your desire to update. Teaching and stagnation do not go together. When they do, teaching fails. To teach is to know: to know is to be able to teach.
The cliché that one comes in teaching after failing elsewhere does not apply in my life. In fact, it does not apply to any real teacher’s life. It is my first choice and I have not explored other alternatives; it is my instinct. I began to teach as soon as I learned how to read and write. I had three brothers more than two classes below me. When I was in grade two, they began to learn the alphabets. So, I would naturally be asked to teach them not only to read and write but to act properly like school kids. Well, this does not sound that big, does it?
When I was in grade four, I already was the “first boy.” Anyone knows what it meant to be so. It meant there would be more kids around during exams from the same class and below. Our house was like an unregistered elementary night school all the year round. Sister’s classmates, brothers’ classmates, my classmates, and those “grown-ups” who would like to be literate belatedly, flocked together in our veranda. They were bahuns, chhetris, magars, limbus, rais, and kamis and damais. Having grown up with such multi-ethnic company, I did not learn to be an orthodox bahun. And there was not only study but singing and dancing till late. We had more than a dozen village kids to sleep in our house every night. I passed my childhood in such semi-dormitory house. The “first boy” always had the responsibility to teach mathematics, English, and songs.
When I was in grade seven, some wiseacres of my village including my father decided to begin a tuition class in the morning. I was to take turns to be a teacher there. Later, they decided to register it as a primary school, and someone with SLC took it over. The school, begun as a tuition class in a hut, runs today as a lower secondary school in the middle of the village. I was one of the founders! I contributed in two ways: first, by sparing time to teach the kids in the morning for a long time, and second by taking part in the fund-raising deusis every Tihar. In fact, four of us – father, sister, elder brother and myself – helped it grow till it found some eager SLC-qualified villagers.
I first entered into a formal classroom in 1992, the year I took my Intermediate Second and was left to loiter. Someone temporarily vacated a post in Kalika Secondary, the school from where I graduated, during his B.Ed. practice teaching. I was invited to share his classes for two months. Well, I taught everything they assigned. After all, I was the first boy of my time and one of the three first division holders from the whole village till then! I taught Maths, English, social studies, moral science, science etc. etc. This opportunity instilled in me a real zeal to choose classrooms. It’s already sixteen years since. I am thirstier than before – enjoying it for being able to do it.