Ideal Teacher…

16 Nov

I was watching Prudential Health’s latest advertisement. If you havent watched it, they show videos of different animals during their sleep. A Koala sleeping followed by a monkey followed by a tiger and then a polar bear and so on. It just reminded me of my Chemistry Master from school. He was a very wise man. Not that he or I slept during the class…:)… When he taught about Ideal gases (remember PV = nRT), he used to say that, in reality, nothing is ideal. He added that under certain conditions, you can envision ideality. For example, no humans in society are ideal. But, imagine them when they are sleeping. Look at it from an observer point of view. We dont harm others, we dont lie, we are not jealous and so on. My extra fitting…:)…Similarly, imagine a person in prison who doesnt have any other human contact. Under this condition, he is ideal as well, provided ideality is measured by impact of one’s “harmful” actions on others. If we think back, this would mean that we could be considered ideal unless we interact…sounds strange..isnt it? Is that why a lot of saints choose places where there are no mankind ? Trying to experience idealism ? Next question would be, should we be ideal ?

Anyway, my chemistry master was quite a character and I still remember some of the classroom incidents vividly. I used to have a class mate who often slept in class. One fine day, as our master started talking about catalysts, he saw our class mate sleeping. He told my class mate, “Get up Senthil…Please dont sleep. Not that I have trouble seeing you sleeping. But, sleeping has a catalytic effect on others. I am worried about others sleeping because of you. Now, someone tell me what catalysts are meant for….” [As we might remember, a catalyst speedens the reaction without undergoing any chemical change by itself..I thought to myself, what a great analogy]. On a different incident, I told him that I had trouble understanding a particular principle. He tried explaining me and when I felt like I “kind of” understood it, he told me this, “If you dont understand something. Read it again and again till you remember it by heart. By then, you would have understood it”. Once he met with an accident and everybody in the class decided that we were going to get a new chemistry master since his right hand was fractured badly. In just 2 days, he came back and guess what, he started writing fluently in his left hand. I heard from my friends who went for private tuition with him that he practiced his left hand for the past couple of days before he came to class.

My favourite pick among his sayings goes like this… There are many times when students ask him something that doesnt make sense or outright silly. He used to respond as follows…”Why is ‘Kaka’ (crow) called Kaka…The answer from a typical student would be, because it Kaws with the sound of ‘Kaka’. His reply would be… If that is the case, does ‘Kuruvi’ sound ‘Kuruvi Kuruvi’…”. To give some of his background information, his credentials were impeccable. He was a gold medalist in both in B.Sc and M.Sc (Chemistry). He worked at IIT Madras as a research associate and quit his job because he didnt make enough money. He scored 99% in physics, chemistry and mathematics in his high school and didnt join Engineering because one of his class master told him that the demand for engineers didnt exist at that time. He is someone whom I still adore for his creative thinking…


Posted by on November 16, 2005 in From AM-KICKING blog


5 responses to “Ideal Teacher…

  1. sdpal

    November 16, 2005 at 6:21 pm

    Would/should we be ideal ?
    Its difficult to be ideal, when the person(s) you interact with doesnt have any clue about this. If the other person is not fair or greedy.. its difficult to be ideal One can try being an ideal person, if it makes them happy or gives them satisfaction. Otherwise, no point in being like that.
    Your chemistry professor can be quoted as an ideal teacher. I had a similar teacher for English.

  2. Survivor

    November 17, 2005 at 1:14 am

    I guess it all depends on what you call ideal. You are measuring based on one’s harmful impact on others.I am assuming, the less harm,the more ideal.And anything concerning society is a very relative term and that brings my point as to the definition of ideality.

  3. BrainWaves

    November 17, 2005 at 6:55 pm

    It is interesting to note, a teacher can be good or medicore depends on the students.

    I remember the teacher and only thing I can recollect about him was his explanation of how and why electrons take the orbits (quantum level) which they take. (2-4-8 etc). (Pauli’s Exclusion Principle?)

    He gave an analogy of people occupying bus seat in an empty bus.
    Everyone will try to take the window seat and when it is not available they will take the next best seat. Good one indeed!

    But thinking back he must have been a interesting teacher for sure 🙂

    I was an average student then whereas the author is bright one in the class.

  4. Mindframes

    November 17, 2005 at 10:01 pm

    I had and still have the highest regards for IIT. At that time, he was the only person whom I personally met who had worked at IIT at some point of time. May be thats why I liked him more…

    Actually, he used to have these one-liner definitions which was quite good…

    Aufbau’s Principle:
    Electrons enter into the atomic orbitals in the order of increasing energy… (bus-seat analogy)

    Pauli’s Exclusion Principle:
    No 2 electrons in the same orbital can have the same set of 4 quantum numbers.

  5. BrainWaves

    November 18, 2005 at 8:05 am

    I never heard of Aufbau in my life. But certainly remember that Bus seat analogy.

    May be he is not that good teacher after all 🙂


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