“Aye, Shoo! Why are you talking?”

As a student in school, I was the Class Asshole.

The perennial backbencher, I would sleep, talk, or day dream. If it was Maths class, I was an ostrich, trying to bury my head between the others in class. If it was English, I was a meerkat, peering out of my hole, making some noise, grabbing attention. For the other subjects, I generally switched between ostrich, meerkat, and hippopotamus.

In our school, talking was a crime. I swear. Students would get report cards sent home with the remark – “He talks a lot” or “His marks will improve if he reduces his talking”. Once, my friend got a remark saying he was getting spoilt because he was talking to me.

The whole thing pissed me off. I mean, what is the big deal about talking?

But then, that was our school. Where talking was among many other grave crimes – entering another room, whistling, singing a film song, and reading a book.

Of all these, it was this big deal about talking that pissed me off the most. I mean, children are children. They will talk. And when the teachers would ask me ‘What do you have to talk so much about?’, I would feel like screaming, ‘I’m not a goddamn 40 year old, things still surprise me.’

There are a million things that a kid would want to talk about. How do you explain to him that Pythagoras’ 2500 year old theorem is more important than the hot girl in class? How are Harappan excavations ever going to be more important than his favourite cricketer – his personal hero?

So I kept on talking, and got thrashed like a carpet seller thrashes his carpets to clean them. I have had sticks broken on me, been pinched, slapped, boxed, and once, even been given a langdi by the hostel warden.

The sad part is, most people from my school still think greatly about the way we were brought up.

The sadder part is, I never really stopped talking.

The saddest part is, the teachers never got it, and went on thrashing.

**********************************

Now, life has this way of screwing you over in such a beautiful way that you can’t help smiling.

After all these years, after all these jobs, I teach school children in Kurnool. Classes 5 to 8.

And I have to deal with the exact, same issues that I faced when I was a student.

I never shout, or raise my hand. So I am the cool teacher.

I smile, I crack jokes, I encourage the silent students to speak, and spend half an hour before every class, thinking of the most interesting way to teach that particular concept. Through stories, quizzes, videos, or games. Also, every now and then, I give them two minutes to discuss, so that they can blurt out that thing that’s on top of their minds, and on the tips of their tongues.

And in spite of all this, I find that some of the kids aren’t interested. Some of them are talking to the person next to them, others are looking out of the window. Some are staring at me blankly, like the kid from Sixth Sense who sees dead people.

It drives me nuts. I am tempted to scream.

But it just needs a second to take me back to my own school days, and think about what I would have done. And I am calm as the Buddha all over again.

It has been five months now, and I can safely say that the students trust me a little now. They know I am never going to hit or shout at them, and this means they trust me a little bit. Over these months, there are two important things I have learnt.

1. Training and Sensitisation: In most schools, teachers are selected on the basis of their academic qualifications. But like Kapil Dev was miserable as the Indian coach, a great student is never going to guarantee a great teacher.

Even after securing the job, the teacher is never trained. Which means that in the first few years, there is some josh to be a good teacher. But without any sensitisation, after a point, the kids seem like ten year old tadpoles who can be made to toe the line by raising your voice. The ones that don’t, can be tamed by delivering a nice, tight slap. After a point, they stop seeming like children – with individual needs and concerns, and they seem more like a herd of sheep.

2. Assholes make better teachers: Most of the teachers in schools are the studious sort. The ones who never broke a rule, never spoke out of turn, and turned in shiny report cards at the end of every test.

How will these people ever know what it means to have something to say in class while the teacher is talking? How will they ever realise that for the kid, there are more things going on in the mind than angles and triangles? These teachers have lived such a life of discipline that they will never be able to empathise with the ones who are not reflections of their own ten year old selves. And that’s why, assholes make better teachers.

***********************************

So now, when a kid talks in class, I don’t say, “Aye, shoo! Why are you talking?”

I know why the kid is talking.

I try to beat the thought in his head, by putting in a more interesting one. And if I fail, it’s ok. I understand.

Because, as a student in school, I was the Class Asshole.

44 thoughts on ““Aye, Shoo! Why are you talking?”

  1. thechatterbox

    Tempted to share my an incident from the 2nd grade.

    Having finished the assigned task before the rest of the class, I obviously believed making merry (by talking, playing name-place-animal-thing, etc) was acceptable. The asshole of a teacher however thought otherwise, and put scotch tape on my mouth after two or three warnings. One can only imagine the embarrassment. I stared on as a helpless, flabbergasted little girl. The teacher wanted ‘pin-drop silence’ and I sort of had a compulsion which she had no respect for. Went back home that day embarrassed as fuck because when the scotch tape was taken off the damned thing left red and extremely apparent rashes above my lips- kid skin is way too delicate to deal with shit like scotch tape.
    My dadi figured out what the scene probably was.
    The elder brother called me a ‘red-faced monkey’ (lal muh wali bandariya) 😛 I was obviously sad as hell. Not only had I been scolded unfairly, I’d also been humiliated by the foolish teacher. Plus here I was, the subject of a joke for generations to come- one that my kids would probably throw at me for the rest of my life. I was intended to be a triumphant lesson for the rest of the class. Was I, though?

    Did I cease to talk? Hell, no. I was a tough as fuck nut to crack.

    The asshole of a teacher, though. She was the wife of an army man. She did hate me for the rest of my term because my parents complained against her to the principal who then prohibited ‘corporal punishment’ at school. Hehe.

    The army man got transferred to another city next year. The school got rid of an asshole teacher. The Classhole clan in general reigned supreme.

    So glad teachers are more indulgent these days, though.

    Here’s to chatterboxes and classholes.

    Reply
    1. Hriday Ranjan

      Wow!

      Yeah. The tape on the mouth bit was terrible. Not only the physical pain, but the emotional anguish of walking around with that thing.

      I don’t think the punishments made of any of the ‘chatterboxes’ quiet. Those were quiet, continued to be quiet. Those who talked, talked. I guess that’s how it is today too. Some things, like they say, never change.

      Reply
  2. alpharuna

    I came across your blog when a friend in my friend list on facebook shared the article on Aamir Khan. I’ve spent the last two days going through your blog.

    You’re witty, intuitive, and funny. That’s what appeals most of us. What makes us stay is your honesty.

    I’m guessing I’ll be trite with this, but keep up the good work! You’re an ideal someone like me would want to achieve.

    Reply
  3. gnkrb4u

    I was always tagged as a talkative boy since school, something that was seen as a dark shade on my otherwise good boy image, we had strange punishments for talking to sit on girl’s side or by the wall in a corner in dining hall, got to accept that keeping mounam was quite hard, how can one spend a whole day even without a word when we live in a community…I thought of getting away from my talkative image and here in my Aussie lab I tried to be a silent boy but that seemed strange and not my true self and now its good to be talkative among my friendly colleagues, who otherwise would think u r being aloof…

    Reply
    1. heartranjan Post author

      Hi, there. Thanks! 🙂

      About ‘entering another room’, well, long story. I studied in Puttaparthi, Sai Baba’s ashram. The rules were set based on his teachings, principles, or beliefs. Some of them were pretty absurd.

      Like the one time, when he casually said to the warden – ‘Boys are not studying, they keep going from one room to the other’. Our warden immediately set a rule which said that boys weren’t allowed to enter others’ rooms. Which meant that if you had to speak to someone, you had to stand at the door and call out. Or look around, set two people as ‘guards’ on both ends of the corridors, and only then enter the room.

      Yes, it was absurd.

      On 12 July 2014 12:49, Heartranjan's Blog wrote:

      >

      Reply
      1. anishathefoodie

        I so understand what you are talking about, I was a lousy student and until pretty recently was a teacher in a school. What goes around comes around brother, but happy to say even if the administration didn’t like me, I was a big hit among the students and parents. What more do I need.

        Reply
  4. Chitra

    So beautiful! 🙂 Loved it. Hope things continue to surprise you, and you never cease to have something to talk about.. Or blog about! 😀

    Reply
  5. rawsh

    ok, thanks to Uday Chopra and *uck Face a lot of newbies have begun obsessively reading every single one of your blog posts lately. i am proud to be one of them. you already know how funny you are, so i won’t state the obvious. (btw, i use your quotes as my BB status everyday – i know that counts as cheating, but i give you credit, i swear!).

    anyhoo, this particular piece made me sooo happy! our generation sure had some sad confused upbringing, which explains why a lot of our peers need to “sound intellectual even if you don’t know shit” 😛 hah!

    but i sincerely hope that more and more people, who actually remember what it was like being a kid, take up teaching. that and only that makes sense.

    <3 – so much!

    Reply
      1. rawsh

        😀 quite a few actually! started with the “duck face” one, then “galat feni” then “womb raider” … the current one is about the “Bhatt of all jokes”.

        and no, i’m not a psycho. 😛 just enjoy puns too damned abnormally much.

        Reply
  6. Dhanesh

    Respect, sir. One of my most troubling thoughts is about the way we were brought up (I share the same “upbringing”). Thinking back, there is no way in hell that that’s the way God wanted His children treated. I’m pretty sure I would have been a better kid had I been treated better. Maybe even a better human being today. Oh well.

    Reply
  7. Gunjan

    Hi, really nice blog! Can identify a lot with this post in the sense that I was very talkative and studied in convents where you had to stay quite. Luckily I didn’t have teachers who reprimanded me with sticks or anything but yes the stress on being quite was there. I was never made the class monitor as I was so talkative but always made to sit next to one so that I get influenced..its another thing that the class monitor became talkative sitting next to me 😀
    Teachers play an important role in our lives. Unfortunately, I had a bitch for class teacher once who was also my neighbour and who decided to make my life hell after I had a fight with her daughter. Somehow, my talkative nature changed and I could not, still can’t talk half as much as I did due to that one year when I had this lady for my class teacher. I think I really loved teachers before her, somewhere she shattered that entire image.
    Anyways, applaud your efforts as a teacher, we need more teachers like u in India! 🙂

    Reply
  8. NitinGupta aka LP

    Hriday, I have been following and reading your posts from a while, could find no place to tell you much, How much I like your blog, and constantly share it as well, love the way you look at things and reply to people, at times, i just laugh with my stomach literally paining, I really wish I could write half as good as your’s!!! 🙂

    Cheers Man, Keep Writing, we love your thoughts over things! 🙂

    Reply
  9. Purushotham reddy

    Hi heartranjan .. U said it right .. I hav become a big fan of ur awesome blog .. Remember me . I am KPR ur classmate from 1 to 7th class

    Reply
  10. Mohua Roy

    You have hit the nail right at he head. All the recruiters look for fancy academic results in a teacher,but the one who really leaves an impact is the one who can be a child himself and understand their psyche. Heartranjan that was great.

    Reply
  11. BhanuKiran Challa

    Mr. heartranjan … you have just echoed my feelings word to word … it was nice read …

    out of curiosity, are u really teaching in Kurnool (a town in Andhra Pradesh) ?? I am originally from Kurnool 😀 … It would be nice meeting you in person this diwali … what say ?

    Reply
  12. Abigai`

    I’ve become an ardent fan of your witty blog. I’m pleasantly surprised to find that you are a teacher. Despite horrific tales time and again of bad teachers, you seem to be one who clearly gives children the chance to be themselves.
    Cheers!

    Reply
  13. Vasundhara Vedula

    My teachers would change my bench partner to make me stop talking. And yes, tell my parents about my incessant chatter during parent-teacher meets. I’m pleased to note another child somewhere else was facing the same trauma as me.

    However, there were some classes, in which for some teachers, I’d shut up. Because I wanted to hear what they had to say. Even as early as 5th (I must’ve been 10/11 years old). I believe, to this day, that a good teacher, or public speaker, has to possess the ability to capture the audience’s attention and engage their dialogue with him/her. Good to know you spend that extra half hour devising ways to do this.

    Reply
  14. saiteja

    Man! This is the most sensible one i ever found on educational system. This is exactly the thing a teacher should understand.
    Why would a child of 10 or 15 would be intrested to read a hundred page book history with all text and only text which he has no intention of finding a use not even as a bedtime story? Why should physics be limited to books when we find everything in our daily practice? Why is that mandatory for a ‘math problem’ be 2 page with different colored pens to score full?
    Kids love to learn, if we ask them to study, we have to make sure to give him what he loves!

    Reply
  15. SWEHA

    hriday…this is one of your best blogs………I totally agree with you! …..even though i have been what you would call the straight A student……. i was a chatterbox…consequently i was punished many a times for “MAKING NOISE”… .all the best with your teaching career….. actually I am envious of your students……….. they get to have you as their teacher!! lucky them!!

    Reply

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