Those who can’t teach, can’t

Ah, this had all the makings of a personal feel-gooder.

Teacher finds out that some women working in his building are illiterate.

Teacher asks if they would like to learn.

To a woman, they say ‘Yes’.

Teacher’s mind plays movie of the cream-of-the-cream-of the-nation sleeping through his classes on one half of the screen.

And these women saying ‘Yes, we will’ on the other.

Teacher rushes out note to campus students, asking for volunteers.

A dozen are moved to action.

Meeting is arranged in cafeteria and roles and responsibilities discussed.

First class scheduled within a week.

Stationery items purchased, classroom arranged.

Students show up, and the Tamizh alphabet is taught.

Basic math lessons are delivered.

Women become literate, and pass high-school equivalency in 3 years.

All involved in noble activity pat one another’s back.


Nnnnnnnnnot quite.  You seeeeee, the ladies kind of decided to not show up, in spite of several personal reminders, the last one just a couple of hours before class.  Teacher and four volunteers spent 45 minutes twiddling thumbs.

Makes the teacher wonder if he is just too hopeless a romantic.

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4 Comments on “Those who can’t teach, can’t”

  1. shivku Says:


    what exactly did you plan to teach? 90% of your plan either eats into their “leisure” or its a its a major revenue loss.

    may the free market forces guide you…

    • deshvaasi Says:

      They just cannot read at all, so we were aiming for basic literacy. As for eating into their leisure, the time to meet was suggested by them, and was right after they finished work.

      Agree that something is wrong here, need to find out what. A friend suggested that they might have been intimidated by the thought of being in a classroom and being taught. Still, would have been nice to have one or two of them show up at least.

      Might very well be that the need for literacy is only in my head, not theirs. Clearly, they can still go to the ration shop, watch TV or get paid, all without knowing to read or write a single word. Much as we feel that their life will be better if they were able to read and write, perhaps they don’t feel that way.

      Now, I have the pleasant problem of having 15 volunteers ready to teach, but no students.

  2. Shady Says:

    That one was a very good initiative. Salute for the effort and time involved.

    It’s not a surprise that it started off badly. I think you already know the reason for some people not showing up – humans have a tendency to 1. over-commit in spite of impending schedules 2. It’s easy to give the name as a volunteer and then they realize the reality.

    This situation is more of a marathon than a sprint. It takes months, maybe years before something concrete is set up. Good luck!

    • deshvaasi Says:

      Thanks, Shady. 1 maybe true here, but not 2. The student volunteers all showed up, the housekeeping staff, who are the students here, didn’t show up.

      Right about this being a marathon. Need to keep at it.

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