Top 10 – What teaching taught me.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Ward.

Teaching today has become a powerless, subaltern vocation; a refuge of the refuse. And multiple recent events point towards their frustrations being regularly vented out on unsuspecting students.


Andre: Why should I give you my respect to you? Because you’re a teacher? I don’t know you. How do I know you’re not a liar standing up there. How do I know you’re not a bad person standing up there? I’m not just gonna give you my respect because you’re called a teacher.

Freedom Writers (2007)

Short of public nudity, being in a class can create an equally embarrassing situation completely exposing you for who you are. And many instructors relying on false rhetoric to get through the day don’t last a full semester.


“But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking… don’t they?” 

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Ideally, teaching should be the transfer of an acquired skill, knowledge and material with a certain facilitation for relevant language and communication skills, from one to many. It is a process of systematic disembowelment of societal biases that taint our potential.

John Keating - Dead Poet's Society 03


John Keating: No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.

Dead Poet’s Society (1989)

And it springs from a desire to introduce change at the embryonic level by being a part of it and as a reward, finding self enlightenment. It sounds serious but if done correctly, it’s a lot of fun.


I am a teacher! I am a teacher, first, last, always!”  The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)

Introspection, dovetailed with my involvement in the education sector has generated several observations. I’m not an authority on this but here I share some reflections peppered with random inspirational quotes from films about teaching.

In our country as the state of affairs stand, we are really not doing all we should for education.

1) Do you really know all that you claim you do? If not, then stop pretending and start preparing. Transcend your subject with a singularity of purpose, understand how its cellular nature divides, multiplies and expands at the same time. If you are already omniscient, please quit


Daniel: No the problem is, I’m getting my ass kicked every other day, that’s the problem.

Miyagi: Hai, because boys have bad attitude. Karate for defense only.

Daniel: That’s not what these guys are taught.
Miyagi: Hai – can see. No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher. Teacher say, student do.

The Karate Kid (1984)


2) Your intellect probably exceeds those sitting opposite you. Don’t flaunt what you know or worse, hold it back. Knowledge is most productive when spread evenly like manure. Understand the distinction between information, knowledge and wisdom. Live a life with your subject before you start imparting it.



Melvin B. Tolson: I am here to help you to find, take back, and keep your righteous mind.

The Great Debaters (2007)


3) Does not matter from where your students are coming, concern yourself with where you are sending them. Prepare them for the journeys they will embark on to worlds that lie beyond the classroom walls. While doing so, also ensure your personal compass points in the right direction.Mr.-Hollands-Opus-01



“A teacher has two jobs; fill young minds with knowledge, yes, but more important, give those minds a compass so that knowledge doesn’t go to waste.”
Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995) 


4) Humans are fallible. You cannot always be right, they are not always wrong. Don’t be a terrier to defend your territory. Terriers are dogs and if you can read this, are not. Be gracious and accept your limitations. Students can sense it. Don’t chip away at whatever respect you have built.



He taught me without teaching. That’s the best way.”

Apache War Smoke (1952) 


5) Are you expecting deification? You were not born with a halo. Don’t play God and attempt to create them in your image. Do not pander to or seek glory. Indeed it is noble to teach but if you are in class to win a popularity contest, enter a beauty pageant or join politics.Emperors-Club-01


A great teacher has little external history to record. His life goes over into other lives….and they will continue to be a kindling force and a revealing power in our lives. 

The Emperor’s Club (2002)


6) Each one has one. Most of your wards are smarter than you assume but immature and unaware of the gift they carry within. Have the vision to recognize, stimulate, nurture and celebrate this gift for it is unique to each. It’s a moral sin to cheat them out of a future they expect by putting their trust into you.John Keating -dead-poets-society-01


John Keating: Why do I stand up here? Anybody?

Dalton: To feel taller! 

John Keating: No! Thank you for playing Mr. Dalton. I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.

Dead Poet’s Society (1989)


7) Park your frustrations outside the classroom. The students are paying to learn, not indulge you in a collective therapy session. Before you venture out to convert their outlook, shift your own.Nanny-McPhee-01

“I have five lessons to teach. What lessons they learn is entirely up to them.”

Nanny McPhee (2005)


8) Maintain your distance and your dignity while keeping the bond alive. Imagine if Dronacharya and the Pandavas were friends, they would be lugging beers in the ashram instead of learning the art of war.Fame-TV-Series-Debbie-Allen


Debbie: You want fame? Well fame costs. And right here is where you start paying. With sweat.

Fame TV Series


9) Judging belongs in a courtroom, not a classroom. And unless you have the authorization under a celestial signature, despite all your degrees you will always remain under qualified to do so.Coach-Carter-01


I came to coach basketball players and you became students. I came to teach boys, and you became men.

Coach Carter (2005)


10) Free your mind. If any known or yet to be discovered human prejudice invades your senses, you have become a carrier. Please confess that you are infected and don’t transmit this virus further. You need urgent help. Get quarantined and cured before entering the class. Avoid the plague of indoctrination and give them wings.matrix-morpheus-and-neo-free-your-mind



Morpheus to Neo (various):

What are you waiting for? You’re faster than this. Don’t think you are, know you are.

Sooner or later you’re going to realize just as I did that There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.


You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind.

I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.

The Matrix (1999)


Never ask “who cares”? If there are no others, be the first one to do so and mean it. Teachers and students complete one another but before you ignite Luke Skywalker’s engine and launch his learning curve, first earn his respect by becoming the Jedi Master Yoda. And then proceed to make him one.



Yoda to Luke (various):

“No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”

“The force is with you, young Skywalker, but you are not a Jedi yet.”

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)


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