Tulaja Rayamajhi

I was recently rummaging through some old newspapers — sorting out what was important before dumping them — when I came upon an article written by my someone whom I knew. The write-up talked about “inspiring creativity “among the younger generation and a part of it caught my attention. It raised a question on how parents and teachers dither to divulge their ignorance to the young ones.

It caught my attention because I could identify one of my family members with the one in the write up. It is not that my dad fakes about everything; but whenever my brother (in the 10th standard) asks him questions he doesn’t have an answer to, he makes up excuses instead of admitting his ignorance. However, when I ask him anything he doesn’t hesitate to admit it — I don’t know why though! May be he does that because I’m almost as qualified as him, academically.

The way we are brought up helps us form a picture in our minds — that parents and teachers are perfect and have answers to everything on earth. But looking beyond things, we bump into their flaws and the respect they command muddles up with it.

Earlier, our ancestors learnt from Nature and now we learn from our parents and teachers. The legend of Eklavya presenting his amputed thumb as a guru dakshina to Dronacharya is testimony to the fact that teachers were very much revered back then. However, at present, this respect is gradually eroding.

I think this erosion has something to do with the ego of either party. Thanks to mass media students have come to know many new things. And at times they even come to know the answers to such questions, which the teachers are utterly unacquainted to. The teachers refuse to reveal their ignorance for the fear that the students might start deriding them and this applies to the parents as well. So when a child asks his father something the latter can’t answer, the dad cooks up what he thinks might be a plausible reason instead of simply saying “I don’t know”, or “Why don’t you ask your science teacher”. A few days earlier my dad attended a teachers training programme, which highlighted the role of teachers in their fight against drug-abuse among the adolescents.

According to him a teacher roughly spends around 10 months on an annual basis with the students. Coming down to smaller units, an adolescent spends almost eight hours everyday with the teachers in the school. The time an adolescent spends with the teachers is comparatively more than the time spent with the parents. Therefore, as an important part of the community, a teacher has the maximum influence upon the adolescent and his growth.

What and how the teacher teaches his students affects the latter’s future and is reflected on the society years later. Hence, there is no harm in admitting ignorance by a teacher or a parent. Wrong answers will only mislead the child’s perception of things.