I’m not a dyslexic. Never was. I don’t think I had learning disorder of any kind. The fact that I used to flunk miserably in Math and all the related subjects was because I didn’t have an aptitude for them. But the dictionary of my parents’ generation didn’t have that word, I guess. So, my pathetic scores were always linked to my laziness, introversion, lack of interest, day-dreaming…and a lot of xyz which can’t logically be related to low grades in Math. I was labeled a failure because, you see, without Math, you can’t crack IIT-JEE or any of the umpteen number of Engineering Entrance tests, and in 2008 India, one is a failure if he/she doesn’t become a doctor or engineer. It was with this ‘failure’ written all over my face that I went to watch Taare Zameen Par. And I wondered why I didn’t get a teacher like Nikumbh Sir, who would understand that I am creative and destined for great things though I suck at algebra and calculus. But it never happened. I graduated from school with a tolerably good score (to everyone’s surprise).
Now, after seven years, I happened to watch it again. And surprisingly, being a teacher myself, I didn’t idolize the friendly Nikumbh. My sympathy went to his infamous colleagues who were bound by rules and their ordeals because of the dyslexic child which the film didn’t show. Before judging them of being insensitive and strict, one must consider the fact that they are not trained to teach special children and they work for a living, for goodness’ sake! They have a family to feed at the end of the day and they can secure their job only by making the students vomit in the answer sheet, the so-called ‘knowledge’ that has been imparted. The management is always at their neck, asking them to show ‘results’. Nikumbh, on the other hand, is a temporary teacher whose real passion is to be with children with special needs. He has had his share of experience teaching children with disorders and he has a teaching strategy for every problematic child. And he won’t really mind if he is fired. It’s not fair to compare the other teachers with him and conclude that they were all ‘bad’ teachers.
All teachers can be like him only when the concept of ‘syllabus’, ‘deadline’ and ‘results’ become insignificant and importance is given to learning and overall development of the children. Till then, teachers, no matter how passionate they are about teaching, will always be drab and strict because good intentions don’t feed you. Results, as defined by the management, do.