Mone Sir

For a great teacher in a wonderful school who inspired to take up things systematically and succeed in life……………

On this teachers day, I would like to continue my series of paying tribute to some of those people  who made a great impact on my life. Not that I have achieved anything great in my own life, but nevertheless whatever was possible in the constraints of life, was partly attributable to many people whom I was fortunate to meet or know. Some of them were public idols whom I never met, but here is a Teacher & Gentleman both rolled into one. I should have written about him many years ago, if not a few decades. I fear I could be digressing a bit while writing about him, but it could be relevant with an insight on education in the modern context.

Mone Sir was my class teacher in 7th B, and that was way back in 1975-76, at IES English School at Dadar. ( I apologise for not remembering his first name or initials, but we used to call all our teachers that way ). I was always a B/C  grader for almost all my school years till then. We had divisions till E or F, and all were graded according to the marks we got in the exams. So you can guess that I was not so bad !  Yet I had developed an inferiority complex by virtue of not being in the elite company of those in the A division for many years!. I too underestimated the D,E, and F types though that was a myth that was broken altogether in the subsequent 20 years ! ( Example:  While remembering someone…’’Oh, that guy who was in the E division?’’- he is heading a MNC now,  what ? )

Mone Sir was a fantastic Math teacher. It’s quite sometime now, and I do not remember what was the other subject he taught in the school was, but it possibly may have been Science. I need to ask my school buddies about it, they have elephantine memories about the school. But what he was famous and popular for, was that he headed the school NCC besides being a wonderful academic teacher. The NCC cadets flew airplane prototypes on Sundays and on certain days like the Independence day and Republic day parades on the school ground- and ‘’that was it’’ for the boys and girls of the school. On Sundays, early morning at school, Mone sir was in his NCC Air Wing uniform and he looked extremely impressive. He was fair and tall and soft spoken. He never raise his voice except for the parade March Past commands. I just cannot forget him even today. 

Math however was not a very comfortable subject for me, and neither was science. But that year changed my life about these 2 subjects and possibly other subjects too. I clearly remember Mone Sir going out of the way altogether to ensure we have understood the concepts well, and he used to have a round of questions for the students before going further to solve the problems. Anyone caught not understanding the fundamentals, did NOT have a “Class” as you may think, but  another round of nicely worded explanation. It was a repeat  teaching exercise , actually for all those possibly not so bright as the others and laggards like me. Later, I knew that after some weeks he had identified in the class all who had some issues, and all those got some special attention from him. Actually, all those including me, I know improved drastically and I stood first in the class, that year and I moved to the A division for the next 3 years.

I think all was a remarkable achievement not only because Mone Sir kept stressing  on getting the fundamentals right but because he did not want the weaker students to lose their interest in studies and their confidence in life. That was paramount.  It’s quite some time that has passed but there was an old world charm in his teaching and an approach that all in the class must learn and not just the toppers getting better and better. Perhaps being a NCC commandant made a difference to his teaching style as well. Many years later I read somewhere that the best of teachers create interest in the subject in the minds of their students, the rest automatically follows. In hindsight, I think people like Mone sir must have influenced a lot of things in my own life and in those of other students.

But that’s not it – what he demonstrated practically to thousands of young minds was that academics is just one aspect of life, and there is another form of learning and life – (through his NCC endeavours)- and I feel that  perhaps the extra curricular and disciplinarian approach was more important in life. My school, besides producing top rated doctors and engineers, some of  who are famous,  produced very good cricketers too- including Sanjay Manjrekar. They all helped the school win/ top in the Giles Shield and the Harris Shield and there were a few guys who went into the Indian Air Force as pilots.  1975 incidentally was  the year when India won the Hockey World cup – at Kuala Lampur, and I  remember it was Mone sir who  asked me about the hockey match updates in the class till the final and appreciated whole heartedly my interest- as perhaps he realised that no one else was so keen about the game. Cricket was the King then.

Is that wholesome approach to life or discipline missing nowadays? Have we forgotten to train students directly or indirectly on leadership and on governance matters? Is our young generation not grounded nowadays? Are the 200+ TV channels taking a toll on the minds and lives of the kids ? Are our current school students spending too much time on academics? Are they being brainwashed by unnecessary extra load of the same lessons again and again at such a junior level- in tutions, in school tests, in some form of unnecessary competitive exams and now again by some apps driven by hype and actors? Actually an unbranded life was so simple and fun then. Conversations and interaction was all the way fun.

Instead of interacting with friends a lot, playing every evening in the open, are our kids unnecessarily spending too much time in academics and on the mobile ? . Looking back at the distant past, these are some major issues in today’s education I think that has affected life, not just education. I remember our Principal Sinha Maám  telling us to read good books and novels and not sticking just to the text books. The fact that the mobile and TV did not exist was the biggest boon. The amount of reading we did was enough education. These could be separate topics for discussion altogether and I don’t want to digress too much.  I think the schooling, the great teachers like Mone Sir and the overall environment including that of a middle class neighbourhood school was an automatic exercise in grounding oneself. That grounding is a must even today.  It produces good people in time to come.

My eldest brother and his friends who went to the same school, will remember another fantastic teacher – Pradhan Sir- a nationally award winning teacher. I remember that I had once reached school when it was a holiday for the primary section and accidentally  had the privilege of sitting in my brother’s class of Std. X or so, ( till I got picked up by my mother )- specially when Pradhan sir was teaching  Algebra or whatever. That class was a bouncer for my age, but I listened so well to the lecture that I remember  Pradhan Sir complimenting me for being so attentive!. I guess those days were different and teachers out of the world too and respect to teachers was an integral part of education.  We had many excellent teachers then and there would be now as well.  How good my school was and how good were my teachers?.…it took me many years to realise after I left the school.

Do you remember any teacher that made a great impact on you or in your life- directly or indirectly? Pay you respects for 2 minutes today. Some of them may have been really instrumental in shaping your life, perhaps you don’t realise it.

Written by Dinesh Bandivdekar /  / 91-9619545460

Sept 5, 2020 Teachers Day

Dinesh Bandiwadekar runs  and

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