‘ I was born brilliant, education ruined me.’, read the black board. The class was ‘Computer Algorithms and Signal Processing’ (CASP) in T.E. Computer Engg. We were eagerly awaiting prof. Shahane to come. This was a usual practice in this lecture. He is a philosopher, a great thinker and a mathematician in his own rights. And hence the applied maths subject of CASP. We did this all the time, writing witty quotes on the blackboard, just to evoke a witty and profound reaction from him. It was the best time in the class, and we were also happy to kill some of it, owing to the fact that he taught too conceptually. Some of the concepts were like SU-30 multi role fighters flying over our heads at a height of 3 km at Mach 3 speeds. We just heard the sound, but never saw a thing.
Anyway, so in he walked, climbed on the stage and calmly read the quote on the board, before erasing it. Faint giggles were heard in the background and we were all sitting tight in anticipation of what he was about to say.
“Education cannot ruin anybody.”, he began. ” The education system ‘may’ ruin somebody. But Education in itself cannot ruin anybody. If you think otherwise, then you are insulting the first institution that you ever learnt in… your mother. “
There was pin drop silence in the classroom. All the giggles had ended abruptly and our bodies were slack. We just didn’t have an answer to what he said, simply because we never thought about this stupid quote in the way we were thinking now. As the meaning of what he said sunk in, we were all once again left in awe of our beloved professor.
After school, in which I was blessed with some of the most amazing teachers ever to teach kids, I came across only 3 people who could really shape me. The first two of them were my tuition teachers in 12th class. Nimdevkar ma’am (who is happily retired now) and Gadgil sir ( same with him). Both taught me invaluable lessons in life, apart from gallantly trying to prepare me for the board exams. Gadgil sir taught me to be precise in my approach, to keep it neat, clean, simple and efficient, not to waste space and time beating around the bush. Nimdevkar ma’am told my how to take life head-on. Her own life was an example of this, and her modest examples just taught us that cribbing and crying never did anyone any good. You have to face things, running away from them don’t make a man. the third teacher to influence me was Shahane sir. He gave my thoughts a certain depth I could never have had without him. I don’t know if I think straight or not, but he taught me that you have to think more often, if you are to interpret the complexities of life.
I was never a good student. I rebelled against anyone who wished to impose his/her authority on me without wishing to understand my point of view. Just making my point in such circumstances amounted to back talking, which earned me a name in the black books of teachers. So be it, I always thought. May be the fault was mine, and I never sought to correct it, therefore compounding it. But these three people still remain the most special teachers I had the privilege to learn from. I pray that I was able to do some justice to their lessons taught.
Our first viva ( verbal Q&A exam) in engg. was for CASP. We were extremely nervous, both because it was the first viva and because it was CASP. So in the last lecture of the semester, we asked Shahane sir in class about ways to prepare for the exams.
” Don’t rely on others. I always see students flocking any and everyone coming out of the examiner’s cabin, asking him what question were asked. He says something, you hear something and then you begin referring to your files to find the answer. You don’t even bother to check if the question that he relayed to you was correct, or he just blabbered something in a state of shaken nerves. Worse is when you don’t know the answer and you ask him what he said in reply to the question. That is the biggest mistake you can make. You end up with a highly inaccurate answer. You have prepared for this exam, so have faith in yourself and the established literature that you’ve referred to.”
“You have your own weapons, you fight your own wars.”