It was a breezy afternoon, Shubadra was in her office. The sky was slowly getting darker, anticipation of showers brought smile to her lips. Office work was less taxing that evening, she had called for an informal coffee meeting in her office. Her colleagues were walking in their coffees and pastries from the canteen. Nicolas had picked up her favorites from canteen – Cinnamon Cappuccino with cream and white chocolate donut sprinkled with chocolate chips. A group of seven sat around her table, started their routine chatter. Topics zoomed from various topics right from the office gossips to international problems, remuneration setbacks and personal lives were shared in these meet-ups.
In her table, was found a white bowl filled with 10 pebbles. None of them knew why it was there. How much ever files were kept over her table, the bowl never left her eyesight and always remained there. She washed them clean and had them well preserved. Puzzled, Nicolas asked her why it was there. She narrated a small incident
**Back in years, I learnt an important lesson. I had huge problem with mathematics back in my elementary schooling. I remember staring at the blackboard endlessly, while the teacher scribbled numbers on the board. They used to work out complicated addition problems. The complications were that they were already adding three digit numbers when I could not even understand why or how the numbers are being added. My IQ did not fancy the concept of subtraction either. The root cause was lack of understanding the basic behind addition and subtraction, when it was taught using single digit numbers.
Initially the teacher tried to sit down with me, started to teach me using fingers. I used to go through the routine of finger exercise for an hour daily. It used to hurt my fingers but it didn’t bring in the added advantage of knowledge. I soon got bored of math and the teacher could not spare anymore time just to tutor me finger exercise. I became a sluggish student in math class and soon it began to take over me in other classes too. From a bright child, I became the lethargic one.
Time went by, one day my math teacher could not come to school. So a substitution teacher came in, she was wearing a white chiffon saree, looked very young, she had a very long, black hair which was braided beautifully and she looked very simple. She gave us handouts that were to be completed by us in that hour. It contained a few problems. As expected I didn’t know how to solve them, soon I slept off. As the bell rang, she came around collecting the sheets and found mine blank. She looked at me, and then the paper, she smiled and sat next to me.
“Did you fall asleep?” she asked. I nodded my head.
“Can you complete these now?”
I shook my head whimpering a silent no.
“You didn’t not understand them?” I again nodded a yes. I was scared.
She looked at me with care and asked, “What is your name?”
I whispered, “Shubadra”
She smiled, “Shubadra, do you like playing in the garden?” with a swift nod from me she asked me to come out with her to the garden. She asked me to collect all the pebbles found there. I ran from pillar to post and ultimately found 10 of them.
She asked me to pile them on the bench. She got down on her knees, matching my height.
“Shubadra, look at these, count and tell me how many are there?”
“Ten” I quipped
“Good!” she kept two stones side-by-side and asked, “count how many are there”
“Two” I said pointing out to her. She added three more to the pile and asked, “And now?”
I counted them and said five.
This process went on for a while, I soon understood what was addition and realized how simple it was. She told me the pebbles were our fingers since we cannot move around with them always. She taught me addition, subtraction. The beautiful angel was Monica – the Substitution Teacher, she removed my fears with a simple gesture and taught me many a lessons that day.
The most complicated things became easy when I understood. That day changed my attitude in class. I was never a topper and I never aspired to be on, but I wasn’t a lazy one either. That incident changed my perspective of lot of things. I preserved these pebbles ever since then.Each time I look at it, it motivate me because till that day even though I was educated I never learnt.Education without learning is like food without salt – meaningless and useless. **
Shubadra, looked at everyone who were staring back at her in awe, they proposed a toast to Monica – the Substitution Teacher – the angel who picked up a kid at the right time – Education was indeed useless without Learning!