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The Back Benchers

In a typical setting of a school, the backbenchers are looked down upon as mischievous folks, not sincere in their studies or life, yet life has its own mysteries.


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I have always been a sincere student throughout my student life & used to sit on the front bench. (My shorter height had also a role to play in it). And then there were the backbenchers, the troublemakers. These were supposedly the fearsome lot whom we all sincere students always tried to avoid. And not only avoid, we rather used to be afraid of them & desist them in equal measures. I used to look down upon them as being unworthy. They were the bad guys, the villains. They would be undisciplined most of the time, would hardly ever complete their work, would not give much importance to other’s feelings, make fun of everybody including teachers, would bring vulgar text & books in the classroom & whatnot.

But somewhere inside my heart I also felt fascination for their apparent confidence and fearlessness. Though they would hardly ever complete their homework or classwork yet they hardly ever seemed perturbed. They would not fear any punishment, rather would make a joke out of it. No amount of punishment would make them mend their ways. If I would have been in their place, I thought, I would die of shame. Today, we all have grown up. I see many of my backbencher friends (yes, now we are very good friends) doing very well in their lives. True that they were not very disciplined during their student life, they were insincere in studies but these apparent shortcomings couldn’t come in their way. True, they didn’t pay much attention to academics but they did focus on developing practical skills, started participating either in their family businesses, or started something of their own quite early in life. It’s not that all of the backbenchers have become successful. There is a lot still struggling but so are some of my frontbencher friends, the apparently sincere & studious lot.

My messages for:

I. The parents of the (supposedly) backbencher students:

Don’t feel bad or sorry or inferior just because you find your ward not so sincere in studies. What does that insincerity suggest? Stubbornness, aggression, yes, maybe. Desisting studies, yes, maybe. But, what it may also indicate a lot of un-channelized energy. Any activity, positive or negative, requires energy. Creating trouble requires still much more of it. You need to go to the root cause & address it. It’s very much possible that these supposedly insincere students actually have very high energy. This energy ought to be channelized constructively for optimum utilization & benefits. This cannot be achieved by force, coercion, intimidation, or punishment. Rather, these prove counterproductive.

Appreciation, giving them real responsibilities, praising them for their qualities rather than comparing & showing them down would certainly go a long way. These children need more physical activity to keep a check on the unwarranted expression of their high energy. So also, these children need more physical touch – pats & hugs & embraces. Also, you need to pay attention to what they are eating. This is very very very very important.

II. The parents of the (supposedly) frontbencher students:

Be equanimous in your feelings, attitude & behavior. Feel happy for your child being sincere & studious, but don’t look down upon other children. Let you & your children appreciate the following points:
1. Studies are very important but certainly, there are other equally important things to learn in life. Pay attention to those aspects too.
2. Be ready to learn from everyone. Make friends with everyone; don’t look down upon other children just based on their marks or academics.
3. Each of you has something unique. When you appreciate others, you tremendously improve upon yourself.

III. All parents:

1. A parent should inspire his/her children to develop clarity of concepts, not just percentage & rank. If one’s concepts are clear it’s very difficult not to get good marks; whereas, it’s very much possible to get high marks even without having a clear understanding of concepts. So, give only due importance to marks.

2. Don’t compare your children with others. It’s a totally futile exercise, causes the only resentment in the mind of your child towards you as well as the one compared to. The comparison doesn’t inspire. What do you think? What’s your aim: to inspire & motivate your child or to derogate him/her & vent out your frustration.

3. Look for your child’s qualities. If they are not apparent, dig dipper. Every child born on this earth has something unique about him/her. The duty of the parents, so also their moral obligation, is to provide an optimum environment for their children to facilitate the expression & nurturing of this uniqueness.

An exercise for everyone :

Look around and make a list of 20 successful people according to whatever you think success means. Then ask about their grades and percentages in schools. Make notes of your observations & draw your inference. You may share your experiences in the comment box here. Let’s discuss this.

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  1. Fantastic Title. My story in short, Being a back bencher, when the time comes I realized my responsibilities and i moved on with challenges. My importance was less in the society, So i was not afraid of failures and I am successful in my life. Now I am sharing my experiences to younger generation.

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