The Ends and The Means

The reason I write this article is two people close to me liked the movie Whiplash. After having watched it, I was terrified that they approved of the teaching methods used in it. Something seemed very, very wrong, just in the fact that two people who I think are amazing 'recommended' this movie to me. This article is for all the teachers, and students across various fields and ages alike.
Sandhya Nagaraj
Published on: 23rd June 2015
"Does the ends justify the means?", asked Rajeswari ma'am, my mentor from BASE in Second P.U.

I stared at her blankly, wondering what she could possibly mean, considering we were talking about studies and weekly activity planning, and we weren't even talking about cheating.

Years later, I know her question can be applied universally- I think we all can ask ourselves, if a class is controllable by fear, if a student can be put under pressure just so that he cracks the JEE (the examination that gets students into the IITs in India), if a world famous monument like the Taj Mahal be built and later the labourer's hands can be cut off, if we can use fear or jealousy or greed as the means to unprecedented success, is it justified?
A foundation built on fear may take remarkably lesser time to build than one which is built with love, harmony and peace of mind; it may be able to enrapture us today, and it may even make us question the path taken by the slower, steadier people around, but take it from me, you, that the castle with a foundation of fear cannot stand strong for twenty years. Forget twenty, it cannot stand strong if the winds were to be too strong tomorrow. It can be the castle of the hour, but I think I speak for both you and me when I say our aim is to have the castle of the millennium.

Years later, I understand consciously the subconscious behind the 'means' I always chose, to achieve the 'ends' I wanted to, and I can safely say that the times I've given my best is when I've had mentors and teachers who paid attention to the means just as much as the ends. I have seen mentors and teachers bring gems out of people with patience, using the right technique rather than being brash, unkind and sarcastic to drive students to achieve greatness.

And YET, people seem to think that crossing lines while 'being strict' is acceptable, since it gives very visible results, and in very less time. I urge all of you to think of twenty years from now and not just the coming two years. Good pressure is required to get the best out of us, but there is a limit to it, and bad mouthing, swearing, aggressive behaviour towards anyone learning any new subject at any age is just NOT the way to go about it.

I appeal to all of you who teach, and to all of you are in the power to influence those around you in any possible way, to remember- even at times when meeting the ends seems to be the only thing that matters- to use the right means.
"Rashness is unnecessary where firmness is sufficient" is something everyone ought to remember, and not just in the classrooms of the world. Here's to a new generation of teachers, and to a new class of students to come (again, not just in classrooms!). Peace!
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