You must have that one favourite teacher. It could be the professor who advised you to apply to a college as a backup, in case your dream to become the next Beyonce did not work out. The guy who got you really interested in Physics or helped you pass Literature. Or the lady who asked the other kids to back off when they were taunting you because of the way you talk. Perhaps even a teacher who seemed like a jerk (along the lines of Dr. House), but made you really think. An awesome teacher is a rarity and their reach is not to be underestimated.
Even if children grow up to be assholes, once in a while they feel inclined to do a good deed or help out the little guy,’ coz some teacher was randomly kind or nudged them in the right direction.
Teaching is by and large a thankless job, the salary is not exactly huge and kids can be cruel! For teachers in college, this issue is compounded by the fact that they have to deal with juvenile teenagers. I remember quite a few teachers who left our class in frustration, ‘coz we were a rowdy bunch.
Do you remember your teens? The angst, anger, uncertainty and hormones. Couple that with gender confusion and feelings for the same sex. Sort of like what a chick feels when it comes out of the shell and walks around, I imagine. Yeah! It’s all downhill from here. Everywhere you look, it’s just ice and more ice. You want to crawl up in the foetal position, but then you get a kind word or some constructive advice from an adult. You roll it around in your mind and let it warm you. You stand up and realize that everyone around you is in a similar boat.
People are built to survive. In an ideal world, every gay child would have a supportive teacher. As things stand, queer children learn to survive and thrive, even without any help. Maybe what the world needs is more openly gay teachers. Not just to help queer children cope or to serve as the token example of how gay equals normal, although these would be worthy causes. To also inspire everyone. Imagine the world of difference that would come about, if there were more ‘good’ teachers in schools. And what if they happened to be queer? To see someone who is cool with who they are and who is respected by the rest of the school and parents for their work? Tolerance and respect for queer identity would certainly follow.
It’s not wishful thinking or unrealistic optimism. India is headed that way soon.
So to all the teachers out there, thanks for soldiering on. Happy Teachers’ day.