This was my second day at boarding school (St. Joseph’s Convent, Kalimpong) at the age of five, with my sister (visiting) and Sister Louisa, who had instinctively taken me under her wing the day before – when I was admitted to class 1, in early Jan of 1977.
Sister Louisa, never left me feeling neglected even for a day, all through the year ahead, as she didn’t think I would emotionally manage on my own as I was painfully reserved and shy.
She and Sister Blaize – often took me out of study or sports hours, excusing me from the teachers minding us, and then holding my hand – took me along to supervise the gardening of the beautiful chapel garden, or to run varied chores with them. Sr Louisa would even take me to the Store/Linen room and she’d ask me to spread my handkerchief and often my skirt, then fill them up with imported biscuits, sweets and chocolates, which none of the children received.
These two Sisters perhaps had no idea, how these gestures would build my inner strength and confidence to stand strong to all the struggles I faced on changing my boarding school a year later to a branch of the same, where my silence and reserve were taken as stubbornness and utmost effort was made by a string of teachers to penalise me for what they misunderstood as defiance.
How many teachers truly have the mental maturity, flexibility or caring to drop their egos to understand, that each child is so distinct. And loud, talkative and gregarious children are not necessarily smarter, more intelligent, least of all better performers or leaders. Introverts who are shy and reserved, perhaps just need a little more attention to grow stronger wings.
“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” – John Steinbeck
“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child. – Carl Jung