Theory:

This lesson is based on a speech made by Subroto Bagchi, founder and CEO of Mindtree, as part of the convocation address at the International Academy for Creative Teaching, Bangalore, on January \(6\), \(2005\).

     He is addressing the teachers graduating from the Academy and he requests the teachers to go beyond the syllabus and teach students the values and skills they need to live a useful and meaningful life.
 
Listen to your teacher delivering the speech.

     It is a great occasion for the \(2005\) batch of graduating teachers. It is also a great day for the faculty and administration to have given the world another set of people whose impact is going to be proportionately large.

     I am honoured to be here with all of you to share your joy, your hopes. As teachers, on behalf of all the lives you will touch, I have a few things to ask of you. It is going to be a long and somewhat unusual list – so I seek your indulgence. Here goes my list:
 
First, I pray to you that you teach me the value of inclusion.

     The people who write my textbooks and the ones who prescribe the syllabi will not tell you, how important inclusion is for me to do well in life. Without the sense of inclusion, I will not know that boundaries are meant to be pushed – not to be lived in.
 
     Take for example the fact that I clean my house but empty my garbage on the road. That is because, the road is not “included” in what I feel is my own.

     I feed my own child but do not ask if the maid has eaten today. Her hunger is not included in my hunger.

     I take my child to the movie but do not ask him to call the neighbour’s child. That child is outside my zone of parenting. So Teacher, teach me inclusion.
 
I pray to you to teach me to communicate.

     As I get caught in the rat race of the common entrance tests and cut throat
competition, everyone will tell me that my survival depends on my power to impress. The more I want to impress, the less I will communicate. Teach me to speak and be able to write so that I am able to convey what I feel.
 
Teach me to interact with:

* the plainness of a child and the exposure of a flower.
* those who cannot speak or hear.
* people less gifted, less privileged than I am.
* Those who have come before me and those who will accompany.
* things alive and lifeless.
 
I pray to you to make me learn. More than that, Teacher, teach me how I can learn to learn.

     As you prepare me for the wide world in which I need to fend for myself and for others, one-time learning will not be good enough. I will have to have the ability to learn newer and more difficult things. Some of it I will need to learn very quickly. In all this, what will become critical is the process of learning itself, more than just what I am able to learn. Help me to learn newer ways to learn. And that will make learning a joy for me.
 
As I learn to learn from unusual sources, I pray that you teach me to appreciate the interconnected nature of things.
 
     Teach me, not just about the way the waves rise but what causes them to fall. Teach me to appreciate that the trees I fell, the small creatures I kill with indiscriminate use of fertilizers and pesticides on the ground, the urban decay I cause with my consumerism– all add to awesome imbalances in the natural state of things that cause death and destruction and can one day, engulf
me and mine.

     Each time I see a scavenging bird on my city’s skyline teacher, tell me why the singing birds are going away. And tell me how I can see them perched on my window sill again.
 
I pray to you to teach me not just the ability to answer, but also the power to question.

     Everyone is telling me to do as I am told. Before I know it, I am enslaved. It is because we do not ask questions. Only if we ask questions, can we get answers. If we get the answers, we can explore how to establish a better order of things. If we ask questions, we will also learn to be accountable. We will be more willing to accept that when we ask the questions, we can be questioned too. In that exchange, truth will emerge.
 
As I learn to learn from unusual sources, I pray that you teach me to appreciate the interconnected nature of things.
 
     Teach me, not just about the way the waves rise but what causes them to fall. Teach me to appreciate that the trees I fell, the small creatures I kill with indiscriminate use of fertilizers and pesticides on the ground, the urban decay I cause with my consumerism– all add to awesome imbalances in the natural state of things that cause death and destruction and can one day, engulf
me and mine.

     Each time I see a scavenging bird on my city’s skyline teacher, tell me why the singing birds are going away. And tell me how I can see them perched on my window sill again.
 
I pray to you to teach me not just the ability to answer, but also the power to question.

     Everyone is telling me to do as I am told. Before I know it, I am enslaved. It is because we do not ask questions. Only if we ask questions, can we get answers. If we get the answers, we can explore how to establish a better order of things. If we ask questions, we will also learn to be accountable. We will be more willing to accept that when we ask the questions, we can be questioned too. In that exchange, truth will emerge.
 
As I learn the power of humility, teach me about how all things that sustain life on earth, come free.

     Teacher, I will live in an increasingly commercial world. I will be judged on how much “value” I can create by buying and selling things. My personal success will be determined by my ability to consume. I will not be able to always question the ways of the world, but do tell me how all things that truly support life, come without payment.
 
     The cow does not get paid for the milk she gives us.
 
     The earth does not ask for money for the crops we get.
 
     The sea does not come to get royalties on the catch of the day.
 
     The sun, the air, the river and the clouds do not get paid for their services.
 
I pray to you to teach me the power of silenceteach me also to raise my voice to protect the truth.

     In a world where every moment is going to be full of noise, teach me to be quiet. Teach me to appreciate the sound of silence. For, in silence I can contemplate the power within.

     Teach me to make my point without having to raise my voice.

     And teach me to raise my voice, teacher, when my silence can hurt another life.
 
Finally, I pray to you to teach me to develop a world view of things.
 
     Teach me to appreciate that poverty, disease and hunger have no nationality. For hundreds of years, I have lived in a world with narrow domestic walls. In that world patriotism was founded on religious bigotry, racial intolerance and man’s remarkably short view of time. It was bounded by barbed wires and smoking guns. In the future that I want to create, I want you to teach me the power of loving my fellow human beings.

     Teach me to appreciate diversity and dialogue.

     Teach me tolerance and teach me to remove the word “foreign” and “foreigner” from my vocabulary.

     This is my world, teacher. In this world, I do not want to be a foreigner to anyone and I do not want to treat anyone like a foreigner.

     With these thoughts, allow me to conclude my convocation address. May this day remain with you forever and may your path be illuminated with the power of a thousand Suns. Thank You and Good Luck.
Reference:
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-1 English Standard-7. A Prayer To The Teacher by Subroto Bagchi(Speaker) (pp. 54-59). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.