It Once Meant Something Wonderful!

Note: This article was published in LinkedIn. If you would like to publish it or need articles of this sort, please get in touch with me.

That’s going a bit too far, don’t you think? (Mary Poppins, the original one.)

1959

The world I see from then – from pictures and films – it was all black and white. Some cool professor in formals walks into the class. And he asks the students a magical question that left them puzzled.

Students stared at each other. There was a rustle all around. It sounds quite atrocious, someone said.

After class hours, one of the students approached the professor and asked him, “Can you tell me what that word means?” He said, with a smile on his face, “Why don’t you find it out yourself?”

As personal book collections were rare back then, they had to hit the library! Dictionary! Nothing helped!

1989

Things were pretty Technicolor by then. Colours were a bit dull and that student was a professor himself, in his mid 50, formals, dressed tip-top as his professor was, walks into the class and asks them the same question.

Most of them did not know it. Just like good old days, they went out in search of the magical word.

Some privileged children ran to their personal library, some to the nearest library, some went back to the professor, who said, with a smile on his face, “Why don’t you find it out yourself?”

2009

The world’s full of colours now! bright and shiny, high definition! One of those students, now a professor, walks into his class. Formals are still mandatory and since he’s done with his portions for the day, asked his students that same question.

iPhones were a luxury, and 3G was being introduced in India. It took a while after class for the results to load, but they did find the word at last.

2019

It was my first class in BSc Physics. A lousily pressed formal shirt and pants. I walk right in and wrote,

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”

I asked them, “Do you know this word?”

A kid in the front row shouted,

“Google says it means something wonderful!”

It sure does.

But us teachers are still left with questions we asked ages ago and the formals, while the fashion has taken huge turns around the globe.

It’s time for a wake-up call. It’s time to shake things around a bit.

It’s time to rethink teaching.

It’s time we recognize our real enemies, not invest all energy in mock war with students.

It’s time we make things great again.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Albert Einstein

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