It was about two weeks ago. I was visiting my sister who lives in Muswell Hill, a lovely suburb in North London. It was late afternoon. It had just stopped raining. The pavements glistened. “Mummy look at that rainbow! ” a little girl shrilled with delight pointing at the sky in the direction behind me. I looked around and there it was. A beautiful rainbow as all rainbows are. I was such as excited as the little girl. “How lovely!” smiled the little girl’s mother. The vibrant colours had lit up the otherwise grey sky as it had lit up our faces as well.
“Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain” “Just remember this and you will remember the order” said our Physics teacher rather impatiently.t “How difficult could it be?” “Didn’t they teach you anything in the primary school?” She was not known for her empathy, lets just say that. She never smiled. She always seemed to be in a bad mood. It wasn’t as if we were lacking in learning capacity. It was probably due to her negativity. She scared us. She didn’t seem to be enjoying teaching very much and she made no effort to hide this from us.
Years later as a teacher myself giving my students learning tips, I sometimes thought back to the Physics classes that I disliked so much remembering my teacher for all the wrong reasons. Admittedly I did pass my GCE examination not because my heart was in it but because it was important for my university application. Most of my peers did not even bother to take the exam. “What’s the point?” had said my best friend. In those days back in the 70s London, at a Comprehensive school not renowned for its high pass rate, no one questioned why.
Teachers do make a difference not just by the quality and the style of their teaching but also in the way they interact with their students. For many students their teachers are their role models, the people they look up to. Showing kindness, motivating their students to fulfill their potential, listening to them, being fair, being patient, managing a class competently is what being a teacher is all about….smiling doesn’t hurt either.
As I look at the rainbow in the photograph I took that afternoon, I recite the mnemonic “Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain” …red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet…I smile once again remembering my teacher who never smiled. Now she is probably in her seventies. I hope that she is healthy and well. I hope that she can finally smile.Who knows maybe she also saw this rainbow and smiled as I had, impossible as it seems to the teenager me.
I like the idea of her smiling. May be “Richard of York Didn’t give Battle In Vain”.The thought makes me happy.