A Letter To My Students

    A Letter To My Students

    One day, during my college days, a teacher told me that judging by my answer scripts, I don't study. He also said that if I studied I could do very well. He said this when I was with my friends and I remember feeling very proud and happy; proud of the fact that I don't study and happy because now my friends had proof that I don't study.

    Being a home-body and also a bookworm I was always mistaken for a 'serious student'. The thick glasses that I wore also didn't help matters and as such I used to feel angry because, first of all it wasn't true and secondly, being studious is the last thing any true-blooded Naga wish to be accused of. I loved reading and I would read any printed material but I did not have the discipline required to study. In other words, I was lazy. Moreover, I had a problem. It was only while doing my M.A that I realized I had gone through college with very few text-books or help-books. Very stupid of me, but it never occured to me that books were available to supplement the textbooks and class lectures. It also never occured to me to consult the seniors. Yes, I was especially slow. 

    The point of this lengthy introduction is this; I am not the only person to be told that they could do very well if they studied. Neither am I the only person who took pride in the fact that they do not study or that they are not reaching their true potential. In fact, I believe this is typical Naga mentality. We take pride in claiming that we never touch our books till the day before exams and with many of us it is the unfortunate truth. It is only a few days before the exam that we run about looking for 'notes' and 'suggestions'. The outcome is, of course, the mind-boggling answers that we produce in the exam halls, the teachers looking at us like we were earthworms and the generations of semi-literate graduates. 

    We take pride in claiming that we never touch our books till the day before exams and with many of us it is the unfortunate truth.

    I grew up in ancient-ignorant times, when exposure and resources were limited. But today what kind of help is not available? We have the internet chock-full of information and ideas; we have help books of all sorts overflowing the markets; we have materials in printed, audio and video forms. And the teachers of today are approachable and involved souls unlike the formidable, exclusive gurus of yesteryears.

    I was lucky in a way. Being an extreme introvert with no friends and nowhere to go, I attended classes regularly. And to pass the time in class, I would test my handwriting speed by writing down every word of the lectures. These notes saved me from joining the line of BAABF (B.A-Appeared-But-Failed) Naga-unemployed.

    Dealing with the usual large number of students and classes, a teacher cannot do much in the class-room. So it is up to the students to make up from other means and sources. During our time we did not have many avenues for that but today it is difficult to find excuses for students not being the best that they could be. Studying is never a waste of time and energy. Getting good marks and good results is important. Think about the consequences of doing otherwise; half-baked learning, poor results, delayed degrees and poor job-prospects. This ultimately means being a burden to the family and society and also getting kicked around like an old plastic bottle. Not even the neighbourhood chicken will respect you.

    Unless you are especially gifted in the caliber of a Virat Kohli or a Taylor Swift, getting a good job is important. It means being financially independent and that means not only being able to support yourself and your family but also not being treated as a parasite. More importantly, it means being able to make your own decisions in life, having the freedom to live on your won terms and not having to call every donkey 'Sir'.

    And that, I would say, is a 'cool' more worthwhile that looking like a coloured porcupine or a gender-less Korean pin-up.


    Alemtula, Dept. of English, Dimapur Government College

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