“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” wrote Maya Angelou
Have you ever found yourself as a teenager in the classroom where you wanted to ask your teacher a question or wanted to talk with but you held back because you were embarrassed? You thought of what your classmates reaction would be or what they would say and instead kept quiet. Would they bully you, call you the teacher’s pet, make fun of you for the rest of the school year?
I lived in a village in a closed community, so closed that if something happened in the classroom your parents would find out about it somehow before you even reached home.
When I was a senior in high school I had a teacher who used to randomly pick students and ask them questions about the lesson, about what was previously covered in class and if the students did not know the answer he would make fun of them in front of the whole class. So once I became aware of this fact I went to class prepared to make sure that I won’t find myself in that situation. But then I was nicknamed the teacher’s pet. I felt uncomfortable and awkward. I became mentally tormented: here I was trying my best to avoid being picked on my teacher and instead ended up bullied by my friends and classmates.
A year later in grade twelve when I changed schools I started to breathe normally since I thought my days of torture were over. Instead I ended up with a teacher who would humiliate the students for not understanding the material and make fun of them in front of the whole class before even answering their questions. Clearly you could not ask this teacher your question without feeling that you had failed to act, behave or think in accordance with his standards. You should have listened and understood in the first place. Otherwise he made you feel ashamed, disgraced, and that asking a question was foolish behavior on your part. When you are a teenager, you are proud, you worry about your social status, you prefer not to know rather than be humiliated. You sacrifice your education instead.
I remember how painful it was for me. I was reluctant to ask for help through pride and fear of ridicule. For the short period that I was in his class I tried to do my best and learned to keep my mouth shut and waited for the year to end.
Two years later in university I was surprised to see the same teacher sitting at a desk in my class. I had registered for a one credit computer course and there he was. I didn’t believe my eyes at first. He spotted me and “Oh my God” I murmured and smiled back at him. When the class was over he stopped to talk with me.
“Ah the quiet girl!”
“Hi sir how are you?” I managed.
“So we’re classmates now. Listen if you need anything, just let me know.”
“Thank you sir,” I whispered, thinking of all those hours back in school when I had needed to ask him questions but could not.
“We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time; keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to inquiries say, “Oh, nothing!” Pride helps; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our hurts — not to hurt others.” George Eliot