A Prayer to the Teacher
This lesson is based on a speech
made by Subroto Bagchi, founder and CEO of Mindtree, as part of the convocation
address at the International Academy for Creative Teaching, Bangalore, on
January 6, 2005.
He is addressing the teachers graduating from the Academy and he
requests the teachers to go beyond the syllabus and teach students the values
and skills they need to live a useful and meaningful life.
Listen to your teacher delivering the speech.
It is a great occasion for the 2005 batch of
graduating teachers. It is also a great day for the faculty and administration
to have given the world another set of people whose impact is going to be
I am honoured to be here with all of you to
share your joy, your hopes. As teachers, on behalf of all the lives you will
touch, I have a few things to ask of you. It is going to be a long and somewhat
unusual list – so I seek your indulgence. Here goes my list:
First, I pray to you that you teach me the value of inclusion.
who write my textbooks and the ones who prescribe the syllabi will not tell you, how important inclusion
is for me to do well in life. Without the sense of inclusion, I will not know
that boundaries are meant to be pushed – not to be lived in.
1. Syllabi: plural of syllabus
2. Inclusion: all people being
valued, irrespective of differences
Take for example the fact that I clean my house
but empty my garbage on the road. That is because, the road is not “included” in
what I feel is my own.
I feed my own child but do not ask if the maid
has eaten today. Her hunger is not included in my hunger.
I take my child to the movie but do not ask him
to call the neighbour’s child. That child is outside my zone of parenting. So
Teacher, teach me inclusion.
I pray to you to teach me to
As I get
caught in the rat race of the common entrance tests and cut throat competition, everyone will tell me
that my survival depends on my power to impress. The more I want to impress,
the less I will communicate. Teach me to speak and be able to write so that I
am able to convey what I feel.
I pray to you to make me learn. More than that, Teacher, teach
me how I can learn to learn.
As you prepare me for the wide world in which I need to fend for myself and for others, one-time learning will not be good enough. I will have to have the ability to learn newer and more difficult things. Some of it I will need to learn very quickly. In all this, what will become critical is the process of learning itself, more than just what I am able to learn. Help me to learn newer ways to learn. And that will make learning a joy for me.
1. cut throat: competitive
2. less privileged: disadvantaged
3. animate: living
4. fend: look after
5. critical: extremely important
As I learn to learn from unusual sources, I pray that you
teach me to appreciate the interconnected nature of things.
not just about the way the waves rise but what causes them to fall. Teach me to
appreciate that the trees I fell, the small creatures I kill with indiscriminate use of fertilizers and
pesticides on the ground, the urban decay I cause with my consumerism– all add to awesome imbalances in
the natural state of things that cause death and destruction
and can one day, engulf me and mine.
I see a scavenging bird on my city’s
skyline teacher, tell me why the singing birds are going away. And tell me how
I can see them perched on my window
1. Indiscriminate: without careful judgement
2. consumerism : the protection or promotion of the interests of
3. destruction: the action of damaging or destroying something
4. engulf: eat or swallow the whole
5. scavenger bird: anything that feeds on dead animals (example
6. perch: to rest on / to stay on
I pray to you to teach me not just the ability to answer, but
also the power to question.
Everyone is telling me to do as I am told.
Before I know it, I am enslaved. It
is because we do not ask questions. Only if we ask questions, can we get
answers. If we get the answers, we can explore how to establish a better order
of things. If we ask questions, we will also learn to be accountable. We will
be more willing to accept that when we ask the questions, we can be questioned
too. In that exchange, truth will emerge.
As I learn the power of humility, teach me about how all things
that sustain life on earth, come free.
I will live in an increasingly commercial
world. I will be judged on how much “value” I can create by buying and selling
things. My personal success will be determined by my ability to consume. I will
not be able to always question the ways of the world, but do tell me how all
things that truly support life, come without payment.
The cow does not
get paid for the milk she gives us.
The earth does not
ask for money for the crops we get.
The sea does not
come to get royalties on the catch of the day.
The sun, the air,
the river and the clouds do not get paid for their services.
I pray to you to teach me the power of silence – teach me
also to raise my voice to protect the truth.
In a world where every moment is going to be
full of noise, teach me to be quiet. Teach me to appreciate the sound of
silence. For, in silence I can contemplate
the power within.
Teach me to make my point without having to
raise my voice.
me to raise my voice, teacher, when my silence can hurt another life.
1. Enslaved: make someone a slave
2. Commercial: money minded
3. Contemplate: think deeply about something
Finally, I pray to you to teach me to develop a world
view of things.
Teach me to appreciate that poverty, disease and
hunger have no nationality. For hundreds of years, I have lived in a world with
narrow domestic walls. In that world patriotism was founded on religious bigotry, racial intolerance and man’s
remarkably short view of time. It was bounded by barbed wires and smoking guns.
In the future that I want to create, I want you to teach me the power of loving
my fellow human beings.
Teach me to appreciate diversity and dialogue.
Teach me tolerance and teach me to remove the
word “foreign” and “foreigner” from my vocabulary.
This is my world, teacher. In this world, I do
not want to be a foreigner to anyone and I do not want to treat anyone like a
these thoughts, allow me to conclude my convocation address. May this day
remain with you forever and may your path be illuminated
with the power of a thousand Suns. Thank You and Good Luck.
1. Bigotry: intolerance towards others with a different opinion
2. Illuminated: light up
Ten core life skills prescribed
by WHO are
3. Critical thinking
4. Creative thinking
5. Decision making
6. Problem Solving
7. Effective communication
8. Interpersonal relationship
9. Coping with stress
10. Coping with emotion