The moral of the story
A teacher of moral science shares his experience about how a classroom lecture on MK Gandhi's life helped a child get rid of the darkness within and account for his misdeed.
Pawan Kumar Mishra 18 Feb 2023 11:17 AM GMT
I am a teacher of Moral Science at the Composite Vidyalay at Amora village in Shahjahanpur district. And, I will never forget this incident that happened in school.
I had just reached school and was walking towards my classroom in the higher secondary section, when I caught sight of a teacher from the primary section bearing down on me. She looked agitated and when she came closer I saw how upset she was.
“Please find out who the thief is in your class,” she accosted me. I was stunned. When I asked her what she was talking about, she launched into an angry tirade. “I brought a bag of snacks to keep in school so that it would last me for a while in school, but the five kg bag of snacks was stolen, and right from my table,” she said angrily.
I heard her out silently then asked her how she was so sure it was one of my students who was guilty. She insisted that she knew it was one of my students and our conversation got a bit heated, and a crowd of students began to gather around us.
I asked her why she was so sure it was not one of her own students who had done the deed. To which she replied that they were too young and that she was confident that they would never steal. She turned on her heel to head back to her class, stopped mid way and spoke again. “I complained to you so that you can correct your students and teach them that what they have done is wrong,” she said and disappeared into her class.
Her words niggled in my head. I was a moral science teacher and I had to teach my students right from wrong. But first I had to find out who, if at all anyone, had stolen the bag of snacks.
I asked the students to own up, told them stories with morals, and urged them to tell the truth. But no one came forward.
I told my students sadly that the fault was mine. I taught them moral science and yet one of them had resorted to thievery. My teaching was obviously having no impact on them.
The following day, I told my class that my heart was not in teaching them but since I had to, I would tell them a story from the life of Mahatma Gandhi. The class ended. The bell rang and the children rushed out with their bags.
I came out of the classroom after a while and locked the doors. When I turned around, I found a student standing there looking at me tearfully.
“I stole the snacks,” he told me, and I was stunned. For a moment I did not know how to respond to that class six student. I hunkered down next to him and gave him a hug at which point he began to cry.
I had tears in my eyes too as I comforted him. We stayed that way for a while and then I told him that what he had done was very courageous. “Everyone makes mistakes, but to acknowledge that they have done it is a rare thing. That is very brave of you,” I told him.
I went to meet the primary school teacher whose snacks were taken by this boy. I told her the whole story of what had transpired. She told me, “Don’t say anything else. A lesson was well learnt here,” she smiled.
Ever since, I teach moral science to my students with renewed enthusiasm.
The author is a moral science teacher, Composite Vidyalay, Amora Village, Kant Block, Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh