Kireet Joshi

The Good Teacher and The Good Pupil

Premchand, the famous Hindi writer, always brings home his message by his penetrating accounts of situations and his authentic delineation of characters. In the story that follows, Premchand gives a simple example of our book-oriented and examination-oriented educational system by portraying the interaction of two brothers. The story is told with an abundance of wit, yet contains a serious denunciation of the way in which children in our schools are stifled, how they are denied the real joy of learning and of combining work and play.

The elder brother is a victim of the examination system, and considering the fact that he completes one year s work in the space of two or even three years, we might be tempted to think him a dunce. But can we improve upon his criticism of teaching and learning? Consider his comments on essay writing.

... You are told to write an essay on "punctuality", not less than four pages in length. All you do is, open your notebook, pick up your pen and curse them. Who doesn't know that punctuality is a very good thing? It brings discipline into a man s life. Other people begin to have a regard for him and his business prospers. But how can one write four pages on a little thing like that? What, anyway, is the use of writing four pages on something that can be said in a single sentence? I would call this folly. Overstressing a thing without sufficient reason is not economy but misuse of time....

We cannot help agreeing with him. Indeed, every word the elder brother pronounces on our educational system is poignantly true. The irony of the situation