Learning from mistakes

“Mistakes are painful but as the time goes by, they become a collection of experiences called lessons.”

As I read these lines , I am reminded of a classic instance of my immaturity, rather stupidity, dating back to the time when I had just joined a college as a lecturer on probation. At the age of twenty three, while I was still pursuing M Phil in Economics (dissertation was yet to be submitted), I started teaching. Overnight my status changed from that of a taught to a teacher but my conduct and behaviour remained essentially immature and brash for quite some time.

            I remember I was assigned three sections of PREP (Pre-university class) with strength of around 80 students in each section. Mine was an afternoon time-table that stretched up to the tenth period which got over at 3.30 PM.  I realized it was the least preferred schedule since no one wanted to stay in the college till the last period, not even the students as they kept approaching me with the request to adjust them in an earlier section. There was a sort of exodus of students from the tenth period which led to dwindling numbers in the last period and burgeoning, unmanageable strength in the earlier sections. My patience was getting exhausted as every day more and more students kept pouring in with the request for the section change. I decided to put my foot down and decline any such request.

It had been barely a week since I joined the college. The moment I finished the roll call, as usual the girls lined up for the section change. Exasperated, I shouted, “No more shifting.” In the meanwhile a girl approached me with a note from the principal to accommodate her in an earlier period. Without giving it a second thought, unmindful of what I was doing, I refused point blank. I yelled at the girl to go back to her seat.

How could I turn down a request from the head of the institution? But I did. When I look back I realize how stupid I was! Can’t still fathom how, I, a fresh probationer could show such an utter disregard to the principal. I was lucky that the principal, Mrs. Roy was a benevolent lady. She did not take any action against me otherwise the consequences could have been disastrous for me. It was her magnanimity that she chose to overlook my gross misconduct which could easily have been construed as an act of insubordination.

Was it a deliberate act of defiance? No. But then, what explanation do I have for such a brazen act? There is absolutely none but for my immaturity at that age. I believe it was the brashness of youth. I was naïve.

The reality is maturity comes with age and experience. I have learnt from my mistakes. Experience has taught me the life-skills to deal with the people and handle situations with maturity and wisdom.

        ( Published in Chandigarh Tribune on November 28, 2019) 

23 Replies to “Learning from mistakes”

  1. MCM was such a nursery for teachers and taught where everyone ‘s fault was overlooked for higher goals
    Compassion and love was the watch word of the MCM
    We all have our small little stories to tell of our learning experiences

    1. Can’t agree with you more on this, Mrs Chopra .MCM truly has been been a nursery for all of us where we learnt so much. In fact, we were groomed here with lot of empathy and love.No wonder, we all have our small little stories that we fondly recall of our MCM days.

  2. Thank you so much Alka. Not that the story is beautiful , these are encouraging friends like you who make it look beautiful.
    We were lucky to have wonderful principals like Mrs Roy and Mrs Mahajan to guide us and also amazing mentors in our senior colleagues to groom us. i fondly remember my days in MCM- silly mistakes, learning and grooming.

  3. Mam, but honestly now being a teacher i have realised it is much of the responsibility to deal with bunch of youngsters who are directionless and to keep them motivated and guided is a big challenge. Keeping yourself uptight while not loosing grips is really a challenge. Thankyou so much mam for teaching me in my masters that teachers are strict for a reason. I big time owe you for this.

      1. Humbling ….thank you so much for all the adulation , not that I really deserve..wish I know to whom I am responding .. who my dear student is

  4. I still remember you as calm , soft spoken lady , beautiful : inside-out .. who lives down/ up ( what do I call ) the lane .. who would never let me go without having a cup of tea or some exotic drink … Mistakes … I don’t even want to talk about mine .. ha ha .. I hope Neena (Sharma) is around to help fix my grammatical mistakes though.. lots of love and regards Rama ji .

    1. Oh Neelam ! No words to thank your your kind words.. flattering in fact.
      We all make mistakes, when we look back we realize how stupid we could be …but that’s life learning from mistakes!
      lots of love

    2. Ha,ha, Neelam, soooo sweeet of you to remember me after such a long time. And I endorse your observation about Mrs Kashyap’s generosity. She has always been a great support. Good going Mrs Kashyap… Keep writing about the good old days😘

      1. Thanks Neena, can’t really forget the way my friends like you from the English department have helped me learn the nuances of the language. love ..

  5. So sweet Aditi. This is called role reversal!There was the time when I used to encourage you and now you motivate me . Love u.

  6. Ma’am , I was in the same year and class that you are referring to here.I still remember you a lot for impartiality.It is not a mistake .For you all of us are equal .

    1. Garima, in my class of PREP in 1980 !Hope not in the tenth period.Feels great !Bless you, love you Garima.
      Yes, I was impartial but immature as well .

  7. Beautiful mam .. beautiful explanation of college day. I too have underdone this situation that I was give 10 th lecture in my timetable for pub adm nd I went to mam to get changed my section..miss the days spent in MCM

    1. Thanks Nandini.
      Some things never change . Way back in 1980 when I joined the college,no one wanted to stay back till the tenth period and almost four decades down the line it is the same.

  8. Rama your experience reminds me of mine when I refused to accept the Principal’s dictat to give up the company of some colleagues
    ( my friends) whom she deemed to be aggressive Consequently, I had to pay the price.
    Truly, these have been lessons of life…

    1. Vidula , salute to you for following your principles even at the cost of annoying the principal . Even I didn’t compromise on my principles but this incident was , i feel, was my stupidity, a case of defiance.

  9. We all committed mistakes in our initial years, but I am glad we happened to work with good and large hearted people like Mrs.Roy and Dr. Ram Singh in my case at B.U.C College , Batala.

    1. We were indeed lucky to have worked under stalwarts. True Mrs Rahi, both the principals were magnanimous in ignoring our mistakes in initial years but at the same time they were hard task masters under whom we learnt a lot. Salute to our dedicated principals!

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